LINDA BROWN: Head of Communications & Advocacy Services, Africa At BASF Holdings South Africa (Pty) Ltd

#AutomotiveAllies: Linda Brown, nominated by Nomfundo Hlela, is the Head of Communication and Advocacy Services for Africa at BASF Holdings South Africa (Pty) Ltd.

With 30 years’ experience in the Corporate Communications field, Linda has gained insights into the nuances of various industries and the complexities that drive them.  Linda started her career as a young intern with the Urban Foundation in Port Elizabeth in the year that the ANC was unbanned.  Being part of the societal change of the country as she entered her professional life had a profound impact on shaping who Linda is as a person, as well as her career.

Linda is currently the Head of Communications and Advocacy Services for Africa at BASF and cites one of the many joys of being in Corporate Communications as its ability to be applied to any industry. Linda’s work experiences have ranged from medical and utilities through to research and academia. One of the many highlights in her career is being appointed as Director of Communications at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

Linda joined global chemicals giant BASF in 2011 as Communications Manager for the Port Elizabeth Mobile Emissions Catalysts site. This was a newly created position which allowed Linda the space to shape her complex role of effective communication at the production site.  Being part of a global multi-national exposed Linda to an international perspective as well as developing specialist expertise in all aspects of communications specific to the chemicals sector.  In 2017 Linda was promoted to her current position where she is responsible for all aspects of Corporate Communications for the Africa region.  This covers all BASF businesses, with a specific focus on stakeholder relationships, crisis communication, media relations and training, sustainability communication, reputation management and advocacy. Leading a team based across Africa, they have successfully implemented integrated strategies to ensure that the company is seen as a leader in their industry.

Linda’s advice to her younger self and others:

#ThingsIWishIKnew: I would most certainly tell my younger self to ignore any comments about the sector being a ‘male dominated industry’.  As women in the industry, we are not here to compete with our male counterparts – we are here to do a job to the best of our ability and in the best interests of the business.  We all bring different experiences, skills, competencies and personal qualities, irrespective of our race or gender, that add even more value as a collective.

Seek out someone who you admire and ask them to mentor you and help you to navigate the complexities of the corporate world.  Find your fellow co-workers who are positive, enthusiastic and proud and who operate on the values of integrity, reliability and transparency – become a member of that tribe.

#TheFutureisFemale: Wake up every morning with a sense of purpose, a sense of pride in the organization you are working for and for the contribution you are making.  If you can’t do that, you are in the wrong place.  Always focus on having a relentless pursuit of excellence and the courage to do the right thing.  Never compromise your integrity and the values that you stand for and learn to listen to your gut. Be curious and actively find ways to discover more about your organization.  But most importantly, always remember that companies are made up of a heart-count and not a headcount.  Every day you are dealing with people and these people are beautiful, interesting and complex characters – each with their own needs, expectations, beliefs and frames of reference.   Celebrate their uniqueness and your own will shine through.  Believe that you can accomplish anything, that there are no barriers, and most of all, believe in yourself.