The Superb Sylvester Chauke

The brand builder taking over SA

"Stand against bland," he says, in a quote found next to a photo of him wearing a Louis Vuitton monogram scarf as a necktie. Apt, no? As an "enemy of the ordinary", Sylvester Chauke rose to industry notability as the national marketing manager for Nando's South Africa, making him the man responsible for their hilariously irreverent advertising. Now leading his own all-star team, he manages brand reputations and communication with South Africa's fickle youth market as the head of DNA Brand Architects.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?

Catching up on television with my poodles, laughing up a storm with loved ones over good food, great conversations and drinks.

What’s the next thing you’d like to tick off your bucket list?

Travel to Antarctica to round up my 'ALL continents' goal. My other ultimate  dream is to see planet earth from space.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Definite a night owl. I come alive at night, it's scary.

What are the top 10 things on your wish list?

Oh nice, if you are paying, please could I have:

  • A MaXhosa throw
  • William Kentridge "TypeWriter" artwork
  • A Dokter and Misses drinks cabinet
  • A Rolex – Oyster Perpetual (black face)
  • A Tom Ford Buckley backpack
  • Nelson Makamo art
  • B&O BeoPlay H6 headphones
  • Maria McCloy high tops
  • An iPhone 6 Plus (to fit in with the cool kids in my office)
  • Alexander McQueen bracelets (to be neckpieces for my poodles)

What’s one question you would ask the president?

How do you do it?

How did you start doing what you do?

I knew I wanted to do what I do early on. During university, I started to immerse myself in the advertising and branding industry. It began with an internship and, as they say, the rest is history.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs wanting to start a business?

The fact that you are thinking about starting a business means that you have the innate energy to pursue it. Do remember, however, that it needs to be a business that you would still love to work in even when things are really tough, because it gets tough, and if the reasoning behind it is weak, your business will be the same.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

"You will never fail. Don't chase money, chase the dream!"

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Nothing at all. I really like the guy!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

  • Seeing both my sisters through university
  • Being able to be a dreamer for my family
  • Leading a team of fine thinkers daily
  • I've made some really good choices and decisions in life (so far).

What is your most treasured possession?

My poodles – Nyiko and Xiluva – they are magic. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face in doing what you do?

Seeing something when no one else does and being motivated regardless of what happens around you.

What is your idea of complete happiness?  

Feeling like I am completing my purpose – doing exactly what I should be doing.