Owning The Game With Spirit and Soul:Pamela Gwanzura, CEO of ZARF unpacks how to take ownership of your life.

Pamela Gwanzura is the CEO of the Zimbabwe Advertising Research Foundation (ZARF), an organization that specializes in conducting nationwide market research which equips decision makers in Marketing, particularly for brands that are always in the market. She’s a mother, wife to a pastor, motivational speaker and a conversational comedian! Pam and I aren’t strangers; we met a few years back when she was Group Marketing Manager for ZiFM and even then, she was an incredible force of nature. If you are keen and hungry to grow, and you need to be mentored by a woman of substance who will bring the best out of you, then Pam’s the girl for you.

This girl does not dream small or what some would say ‘within reason.’ She dreams BIG and does not back off once she sets her mind to it.

“I love people and find it easy to connect with them. I have a way of creating rapport with everyone. Part of my God-given calling is empowering young people with tools on how they can manoeuvre and be successful in life.”

What words best describe who you are?

Hardworking, tenacious, relentless. I don’t give up easily; actually, I don’t give up at all, even when the situation dictates that I should. As long as I have breathe in my body, I get up and keep going. I’m fun-loving. I love to have a good time, it’s important to me to laugh a lot and celebrate life. I’m a health fanatic, very militant about keeping up with my health. What I can control – I should control, such as my hands. I use my hands to pick up food and put it in my mouth, so I make an effort to pick the right kinds of food. Because my tomorrow depends on today, I believe in taking ownership of my health and being deliberate about keeping fit. I walk at least 5 times during the week and am currently on a 14 day cardio workout challenge, today is day 10! I’m a conversational comedian – I love telling jokes on a whim based on the situation I’m in. My friends always ask where I get my jokes from or where I’ve heard them from but in most cases, my jokes are new releases! Last, but certainly not least, I’m a dancer; I love dancing.

Are there specific places you like going to, to dance?

One of my favourite places to dance is a Zumba class where you have good music and a really good instructor with an incredible routine. Local Zumba instructors have personalised routines with local art and once in a while they will bring in kasungura or kaborrowdale dance and I absolutely love that! I also take advantage of weddings and parties, and make sure I leave a piece of me on the dance floor.

How do people describe you?

Oh, in many different ways! I’m a lot of things to different people. What I hear consistently is that I’m someone who you can never have a dull moment with – and this is true! “If you’re feeling down, and you hang out with Pam, you’ll leave with an uplifted and positive spirit because her vibe is infectious.” From a professional view point, my colleagues would say I’m focused and will not let anything stop me from accomplishing the objectives I would have set. I get things done.

How do you introduce yourself to people?

Depends with the audience I’m introducing myself to. I’m a mother of 3 boys, a Marketing and Communications specialist, CEO of the Zimbabwe Advertising Research Foundation, a child of God.

If in a spiritual setting or whenever the opportunity presents itself, I let people know that my husband is a pastor.

You have 3 boys?

Yes, I have 3 boys – Dale who is 22 (yes Emma, my first born is 22 years old so I’ll take your shocked expression as a compliment), Jason who is 18 and our lovely last born who decided he wouldn’t be left out of the family, Ezra who is 5.

Tell us a little bit more about ZARF – what is it all about?

ZARF specialises in conducting nationwide market research which equips decision makers in Marketing, particularly for brands that are always in the market.

The data we collect and produce equips them to make decisions through understanding market profiling, segmentation and identifying a target audience. Our research also helps with analysis of market trends particularly for Retailers who want to benchmark their current position in comparison to the previous year. A lot of variables have changed in the market due to COVID-19 and understanding this shift is key in spending advertising dollars strategically – this is where we come in, to help make those decisions.

What was life like growing up?

Growing up was very interesting.

I’m the last born out of a family of six – 4 boys and 2 girls. I’m not your typical last born though, my character traits resemble those of a 1st born! I think the reason is that my mum died when I was 10 years old and I had to quickly grow up. Ndanga ndisina munhu wekuyemera. I was fortunate, my sister, who’s the first born, immediately adopted me. When I look back, I treasure what my mum instilled in me. She taught me that you carry your family name wherever you are. Usanyadzise mhuri. This kept me from doing things that were disgraceful, distasteful and would have brought shame to the family name and I appreciate her for that. My mum had a big heart and accommodated people who were in need – every now and then we would have strangers eating and sleeping over at our house. Whenever she cooked, she always left an extra portion for one more person because ‘you never know who could come to your house in need of food.’

So ingrained was this value in me that when I was in Botswana, I did the same but that was crazy, who was going to visit me there, especially in need of food? But I couldn’t help myself, ndaitosiya an extra portion, just in case.

Did your childhood help form who you are today? What’s most memorable about it?

The seeds that were sown in me by my sister and mum germinated, I held onto those lessons, made sure I lived up to those values. I was always recognised and acknowledged for working hard.

I could never be the teacher’s pet, could never carry the teacher’s basket or bag – I wanted to earn my merit not get it out of favouritism. Through the years, I’ve always been picked up from the crowd because of my recognisable sheer hard work.

Growing up I was the family entertainer. As soon as people started singing and clapping hands especially kumusha, I would dance. I loved watching my shadow move in rhythm to me on the wall, I would get lost in dance. As you can see, zvakabva kure zvekutamba. I didn’t care if people laughed at me, as long as I was doing what I liked and enjoyed.

That boldness in me, cultivated from such an early age, is always ready for any opportunity, in and out of season.

I read a lot, equip myself and when people call on me to do something, I tap into my library mind and accept the assignment. I’m always ready.

What’s your passion?

My passion is to be a game changer wherever I am. Ndikasvika pachitambwa nhodo in silence, I’ll take that game to another level by bringing a whole new vibe to it. I’ll turn what was a silent game of two to one with a hyped up crowd and spectators! This is the kind of difference and impact I want to make when I step into anything. When I step into a situation where someone is grieving, I must leave them in a lighter mood, with hope for living on. If a person is sad and they interact with me, I must leave them in a better state whether that’s through my words or actions. If it’s a case of youngsters struggling with mental health or confused about life, I must leave them with a renewed hope and hunger for life.

When I was working in Botswana, there was lady who served tea at a company I worked in. She couldn’t speak English, but was keen to learn. I couldn’t speak Se’tswana, but was keen to speak it.

So, I made a deal with her. I taught her two sentences of English every morning while she taught me two sentences of Se’tswana. After 6 months, we were both fluent in the respective languages we were learning! It’s that kind of influence, no matter how small or silly that’s life influencing and life changing.

I’ve got to make a difference with whatever God throws my way.

Tell me more about your time in Botswana…

I was in Botswana for 7 years.

I worked for an advertising agency for about 3 years then became Commercial Director for a radio station in Gaberone. It was while I was working there that I started consultancy jobs with organisations such as UNHCR and got a lot of exposure in media and working with refugees. Leaving Botswana was difficult, I left at a time that I had established myself in the market and was at the peak of my career and consultancy. It wasn’t an easy decision to make but I needed my boys to grow up with their father and learn from him as at that time we were living in two different countries, which wasn’t ideal. I also felt compelled by God to move back home and so I did – right at the peak of my career! It was such a big risk coming back to Zimbabwe. Having gone away for years, I was nervous and wasn’t sure if I was going to re-establish myself. I just said I’m going to be like Abraham and see how it goes. I trusted God in that decision, I had nothing to back me up but that was the best decision for my family.

How did you get to where you are now? Is this what you had envisioned your life to be?

What contributed highly to getting to where I am now has been hard work – that’s the key. The last time we interacted I was Group Marketing Manager at ZiFM, this was the post I got soon after coming back from Botswana – God is faithful. While I was there, I started re-establishing the network I had before and it was through that network that I started identifying opportunities and exposing myself to tangible events, where you interact meaningfully with people in your field. Aim to connect, attend strategic events, establish more ties with the right kind of people if you want to build your network. Don’t go to events for the food only! When opportunities come you’ll be ready. Because of this mindset, some opportunities would then find me and I would be ready to step into them.

I landed my current job through my close association with Marketers Association of Zimbabwe. MAZ houses all marketers within Zimbabwe and come up with all kinds of initiatives targeted at developing marketers. I contributed articles in their magazines which helped me to be visible within the market and I was in full view of key decision makers. I saw the ad for the job, interviewed for it and out of 560 applicants I got the job! I was the right fit because of the experience I carry having worked for media owners, agencies and having a strategic mindset. I’ve always envisioned myself in a senior leadership position. I always told myself because of the exposure that I’ve had, I knew I would be a leader in a corporate organisation.

Your life sounds pretty full on; how do you unwind?

I love to read a good book by Karen Kingsbury, she’s a Christian author and writes incredible books. She’s so gifted in how she expresses herself. I enjoy Francine Rivers too. When I read, it has to be a hard copy. I feel like I’m cheating if I’m reading a soft copy. Besides the cheating, I feel like I’ll be damaging my eyes with all that light from the screens. I’ll only read other writers if they are referrals from my friends. I love to go out with girlfriends and have a good laugh, I really unwind this way. I love listening to good motivational sermons, they inspire me and energise me.I enjoy taking my kids out and relaxing over a good cup of coffee.

On reflection, what keeps you up at night?

The thought that “If I was to die today, have I done enough? Have I lived out my purpose? Have I deposited what I meant to on this earth?” I ask myself if I’m living my life with all the zest and might I can, because if I die today, I must’ve done my best. The thought of death helps me refocus my agenda, real urgent things and urgent matters.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? What do you still want to achieve?

I still have lots I want to achieve.

I want more consultancy opportunities for my business, Tangible Communications. I’ve managed to establish partnerships within the Southern African region and have various partners that I represent. I want to grow the network so it’s beyond the 5 countries within Africa, to more than 10 countries using this business model.

I want to grow my mentorship side, and establish a mentorship academy. I’m mentoring close to 20 people now but I want to put a structure to it and give more opportunities to more young people. I want it to be more structured.

A big dream of mine is establishing a marketing and communications hub, something that’s not individualistic, I want it to be a coming together of marketing and communications specialists. A strong force which together can establish incredible things while servicing various clients.

Your parting words?

I want every woman to know that you’re valuable, you’re precious and you’re fearfully and wonderfully made by God. You’ve got success in your DNA because you were created that way. As women, particularly married women, we’re so abused emotionally that we lose sight of who we are. In the end, a lot of women walk around with a distorted identity of who they are; they don’t have a clue who they are outside their husband’s name. On your own, you’re gifted by so much that you don’t need to be in the shadow of anyone else, especially your husband. Let’s come together as women and instil life in each other.”


By: Emmagness Ruzvidzo


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