Global marketing leader, Andrea Quaye shares her amazing career from her first job as marketing assistant for a washing powder brand to Marketing Director of SAB and her current role as African Marketing Vice-President for global beer giant AB Inbev. Her humility and vulnerability gives us an unbelievable insight into her journey to the top, and what makes a great global leader. As the first female marketing director of SAB, she talks through the huge transition from heading up a brand to being on the board of an international organisation.
- Her 8 leadership lessons from each job move
- The power of learning
- How she turned around a declining billion dollar beer brand
- The transition to the board …and the conversations in her mind as she went from manager to director. She also shares the two major steps she took to get through the transition mentally.
- How she keeps her mind clear – and the importance of centering herself
- The challenge she’s risen to – increasing sensitivity at the top table to gender equality
- Why she enjoys being in a large corporate
- Her advice to young women starting a corporate career
- Her support system
- Raising her two girls
- The great gift of multi-cultural, multi-language experiences
- Giving back – championing #NoExcuses
- Her top 3 marketing tips for small companies and those for corporates
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Speaker 1: 00:00:00 Welcome to Working Women’s Wealth, where we discuss what it takes to build real wealth in a way normal humans can understand. Here’s your host, Lisa Linfield
Lisa Linfield: 00:00:09 Hello everybody, and thank you for joining us again at Working Women’s Wealth. Today we are very fortunate to have Andrea Quaye join us. She is a phenomenal human being who is the African Vice President of Marking for AB InBev. She holds a huge job, and has so much to teach us. Thank you for joining us.
Andrea Quaye: 00:00:45 Lisa, thank you so much for having me on your show. Thank you for that amazing introduction. I almost didn’t recognize myself.
Lisa Linfield: 00:00:52 You’ve had this amazing career. You were a brand manager at SAB for five years. You turned around the Carling Black Label brand, and then you went on to build the Castle Lite brand. Then you got promoted to be marketing director of SAB. Then, when AB InBev bought SAB, you got to move to be this amazing position of African Marketing Vice President. It’s an American company, so I have to say vice president and not marketing director. How did you transition through each of those different steps, and what was it that you learnt? Because it’s easy for any of us to look upwards at the people there and go, “Oh, I could do your job tomorrow.” Then when you get there go, “Hum, not quite how I thought it would be.” What were your major steps as you rose from middle to senior management, all the way up into international executive?
Andrea Quaye: 00:01:48 Oh, good, thank you, Lisa. I’ll start my story from my first job. My first job was at Unilever. I started as a marking assistant in a portfolio of washing powders. I remember I was the marketing assistant on Surf. It was the most humbling experience that I had. Coming from university where I did pretty well, I got into a work environment where everyone knew what they were talking about, and I was like a deer in headlights. I learnt two things from my first two years at Unilever. The first one was really about speaking up, even if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
I spent about six months without saying “beep” because I was so out of my depth. I had so many questions, but I was so scared of actually raising these questions up in case I got told to leave, almost like an imposter. One of my bosses at that time, who is now a friend of mine, saw me at a party, and saw my exuberant personality, dancing on tables, having lots of fun. She said to me, “Who is this person at work? Who is this mouse that I see at work, and I see this other person here?”
Really, that, for me, was a huge turning point because she kind of showed the mirror to me, and held me accountable to be who I really am. That, for me, was my first lesson. When you come out of university, and you’ve got all of this theory in your head, and you go into the work place you’ve still got to be yourself. I think that makes for quite a fulfilling career because having two different personalities is very difficult to keep up.
My second lesson was around just the amount of resilience I have and the drive that I have. It’s one of my greatest strengths, it’s also one of my greatest weaknesses. I had studied at a French university, so I was used to writing essays in French. French as a language is quite verbose, and there’s a certain way of writing things and repeating things and kind of carrying on. I had to write a brief. That is the first skill an assistant has to learn. You’ve got to write one page to tell your agency what it is that you want, and what good looks like. I wrote 20 pages. Anyway, I went back and forwards 21 times. I counted, and I let that stick in my mind, 21 times to actually get it right. Each time I never gave up. That, for me, was one of my greatest lessons in terms of resilience. When you start off in your career it’s really important that you learn the skill. At the beginning of your career it’s all about building up your skill base and learning the hard content.
I then left. I spent some time overseas. I spent a year in Argentina. Actually, Saks, my husband, and I were engaged to be married, and I thought this is my only gap to and work elsewhere and do something that I really want to do. I suppose what I learnt there was that I was able to compete at an international level. Little things like this early-on in your career build confidence, and it plays out in the future. I went to Argentina. I worked in an environment that only spoke Spanish. I did a bit of Spanish at school, so my Spanish was okay. By the end of the year I was speaking fluently in Spanish. I was presenting in Spanish, and I did really well. That really built my confidence to say, “I can do well, not only in Africa, not only in South Africa.”
I then moved to Johannesburg where my dream was to work for South African Breweries. The South African Breweries has an amazing reputation in terms of its people, in terms of how it develops its people. You look at a lot of the people in leadership, they’ve all been through SAB. I knocked on their door, and I said, “I’d really like to come work for you, whatever it is.” I continued in marketing, obviously, and I had the opportunity to work for a great leader, a gentleman named Dave Carruthers. I worked in the Africa division. In the Africa division in joining SAB what I learnt was the fact that strategy without execution and without precision means nothing.
Coming from Unilever back in the day, and I think they’ve changed a bit, it was very conceptual, very strategic, very theoretic, while at SAB it was all about, ” How many beers are you going to sell? What impact are you going to have on the consumer?” I really, really learnt that. Actually, if you look my career, the one kind of string that kind of carries through everything is the fact that I like to learn. That’s what drives me. I am not into titles. I’m not into money. Excuse me, Lisa. All of those things are a consequence of my purpose. My purpose is to learn as much as I can, to grow as much as I can, and to have the biggest impact that I could ever have. Those are the things that really keep me grounded, and you will see later on as I carry on. That’s what I learnt in that stint.
I then got the opportunity to work on Carling Black Label. It was, if I tell you, the highlight of my career. It was a declining brand. It was losing one million hectare liters. That’s a lot of liquid a year. There was a general belief that this brand could never turn around because big brands, sometimes they just die, and you’ve kind of got to let them die. I didn’t believe that. I had a huge connection with Carling as a brand. Its values spoke to me, Carling’s values are being strong, brave and true. I thought, “I can buy into those values.”
A lot of people questioned, “Can a woman do this? Can a woman market a very masculine brand?” I was what you call a general manager, but I was basically managing a brand. These are billion-dollar brands. They’re like if they were on the JSC they’d be in the top 10, so these are big, big brands. My greatest lesson was if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will. Believing in yourself is not a quiet believing in yourself. It’s not something that happens only internally. It’s something that happens internally, and that you’ve got to verbalize, and you’ve got to express. You’ve got to put yourself out there and say, “This is what I believe in, and this is why I know it’s going to be a success.” It took quite a bit of courage because what if I failed? I think that was the first time in my career that I was thinking about the possibility of failing because I had put myself out there. I had said that I was going to turn this brand around. I had said a whole lot of stuff. That, for me, was my greatest lesson.
Throughout this stage of my career it was all about me. It was about how I manage myself, and how I produced work, and how I got work done. Then I moved onto Castle Lite because I turned, along with an amazing team of people and amazing agencies, we managed to turn around Carling Black Label into a healthy, thriving, growing brand. That was an amazing, amazing achievement. We put in activities in the market that won numerous awards at CAN at one show, all of these amazing international shows. My greatest lesson was really around believing in yourself, and letting people know that you believed in yourself and that you backed yourself. Once you do that people will follow you.
When I moved on to Castle Lite I had an opportunity to reflect on my leadership style. I think it was the first time that I thought about my leadership style. As I said, I am highly-driven, and sometimes when you’re highly-driven you drive everybody around you, while, actually, you’ve got to get people who will drive themselves. On Castle Lite when I joined that brand, it was a similar job because it was a brand in beer. The content itself, for me, was not something that I struggled with, or I had much to learn from. What I wanted to learn, and the impact that I wanted to have was on people. I wanted to do it in such a way that I developed and I grew people. My ambition was to get all of my team promoted. That took developing another side of me, which was really about coaching, asking questions, supporting people instead of just being the general.
At that stage that was my greatest lesson. My greatest ambition was that people would be seen for the work that they did, and I wanted to make sure that I hired people that were better than me, that I could develop, that I could put out in the world that could go ahead and do great things. The fact that the work we did was amazing, we got amazing results. It’s a highly-profitable brand. It is top brand in South Africa in the beverage category. That, for me, was secondary. What I wanted was to build that skill, and I wanted my team to be really successful. Then I got appointed as marketing director, the first marketing director, a woman, a black woman marketing director in the history of SAB. A 120 years heritage, and they’d never had a woman.
Lisa Linfield: 00:10:43 That’s amazing.
Andrea Quaye: 00:10:43 Yeah. That was the biggest jump in my career. I think all along I hadn’t cruised. It was hard, and I learnt a lot, but moving to the board room was my toughest, toughest jump, and for many things. The first one was the internal battles that I had. Did I deserve this? Did I only get this because I’m a woman and because I’m black? What are people thinking? I’m an extrovert, so I take in a lot of stuff that’s happening on the outside. I’m at my best when I’m centered and when I know what I want. When I got to that stage I was just consumed by stuff happening on the external. I remember sitting in board meetings and not being able to speak because I felt I didn’t know enough. I felt everyone else was so experienced. It was a group of very, dare I say, aggressive men. It was a tough six months. It was the toughest six months.
Lisa Linfield: 00:11:43 Did the mouse come back?
Andrea Quaye: 00:11:44 The mouse came back. I was the mouse, I was.
Lisa Linfield: 00:11:48 There you go.
Andrea Quaye: 00:11:50 You’re listening really well, wow. I actually hadn’t realized that, but the mouse came back. I got a coach, and I remember saying, “I want a male coach because I want to figure these guys out.” Actually, there was nothing to figure out. I just had to believe in myself again. It took me, I think, a year to change my LinkedIn position to Marketing Director South African Breweries. I remember telling myself, “Go do it. No, I can’t. What if, what if?” Just so many, I’d say, useless conversations happening in my mind just putting myself down. That was a tough six months.
Lisa Linfield: 00:12:23 I think it’s also compounded. I remember my first leadership position. It’s compounded by the fact that you go from a single discipline of marketing, to suddenly having to give your opinion on IT, on finance, on logistics and distribution, on every other thing. You sit there and go, “I know my marketing very well.”
Andrea Quaye: 00:12:41 Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 00:12:41 “But I have a lot of content to learn in the midst of all of these self-doubts and kind of things.”
Andrea Quaye: 00:12:48 Totally. No, you are so right. Even within marketing I knew the brands that I worked on so well. I tend to want to know facts and the detail to have confidence, but I had to learn to trust my guts. I think in the corporate world, the rational, the cortex, the data is what people really value. You think that you’ve got to do that, but once you get to the board level you’ve had so much experience, you’ve seen so many things that you’ve actually got to trust your gut. You’ve got to ask the right questions, and you need to follow what you believe. If you are doubting yourself you can’t even hear your gut.
I think I had a watershed moment. It was two things. One of them was, obviously, getting this coach that helped me work through my doubts and helped me with techniques. For example, neuroscience, I’m a big believer in neuroscience. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between what you tell it and reality. If you tell yourself that you’re not good that’s what it will believe. Before I went into any meeting I would look in the mirror, literally, and I would tell myself that I am competent, that I am doing this. I am a very good marketing director, and I’m 80%, I used to write 80%. I just picked that number. I’m an 80% marketing director, and I’ve got a bit to learn, but I’m really good at what I do. I’d walk into the room, and I’d write 80 on a piece of paper, and I had to hold myself accountable to that number. That was a watershed moment.
The other watershed moment was we had a team facilitated session, kind of team-building session, at which I burst into tears. Now, for me, I don’t like crying. Secondly, being barely the only woman in the room and crying, but I burst into tears. The facilitator kept saying, “Give her the space to express her emotions.” I still had to talk. That was really tough. The amount of empathy that I got from my colleagues, from my male colleagues who came to me and said, “The way you’re crying is how I feel. I just don’t have the courage. I just don’t have your courage.” All of a sudden I just felt liberated. I felt liberated to be myself. Liberated to be vulnerable and say, “I actually don’t know about this. Teach me.” Liberated to just speak my mind. Those two are real kind of watershed moments for me.
Then I got appointed as vice president for AB InBev. That was a difficult time because we were bought over, and none of us knew what was going to happen to us. In my mind I wasn’t sure if I didn’t get the vice president job if I’d be happy to stay because I still wanted to learn, and I still wanted to grow. I remember, I almost didn’t make the interview for the role because I hadn’t been put on the list. My boss at that time fought for me to be put on the list, “Just interview her.” He said he thought I’d be the best person for the role, but, “You make up your mind. Interview her.” I remember speaking to the global HR person at that time. He said, “Nah, don’t worry. Just go on holiday. No need to interview.” It was quite a weird and different moment. Sometimes because people didn’t know, but other times because, I don’t know, stuff was at play.
Luckily, my boss got me onto the list, and I went on holiday. I got a call to say, “Listen, Ricardo wants to interview you,” Ricardo’s my current boss who’s the president of the whole zone, “On this day, at this time.” In the middle of my holiday. I was in Italy with my family and some friends. I remember saying, “Yeah, sure. I’m on holiday, but, damn, I’m going to interview for this thing.” My old boss at that time just said, “Just be yourself. Don’t try and pretend to be anyone. Just be yourself.” I think I was myself, and I kind of got into this role.
Yeah, and I suppose what my lessons are in this role is that at a global level the standards change. What you thought was good is no longer good enough because there are people all over the world doing amazing things. It is liberating. It is daunting, but all of a sudden you’re a small fish in a really, really big pond. With that comes huge opportunities.
Lisa Linfield: 00:17:15 Self-doubt, or not as much?
Andrea Quaye: 00:17:17 There are moments when I have self-doubt. I’ve gotten back to running. Running is my safe place. It’s where I think. It’s where I talk to myself and pep myself up. I find that when I don’t exercise and I’m in a space where I’m very uncomfortable learning. Learning is so uncomfortable.
Lisa Linfield: 00:17:35 Definitely.
Andrea Quaye: 00:17:35 It’s so uncomfortable. I have to run, and so I find myself talking to myself. There is self-doubt, but it’s not paralyzing, and I’m not a mouse.
Lisa Linfield: 00:17:47 The transition from just being in marketing to the board, which was a huge transition, was it as big from being on the board to a global position?
Andrea Quaye: 00:17:59 Not as much. I think because I learnt to master my self-doubt, for now, the board situation is quite similar. I’ve got a few friends that have been on boards and everything, and talking to them. The first thing you do is you’ve got to understand the power play. You’ve got to look in there. You’ve got to see what role the boss plays, what role your different colleagues play, if they are friendships or partnerships, you’ve got to understand that. Then you’ve just got to speak your truth, and be the best that you can. Those are two lessons. I feel that I’ve taken that into being on the more Pan-African and global board. The big difference for me, and I’m not saying it would be the same for everybody, is the standard and what’s good. I’m back into kind of functional space, and trying to raise the bar, raise the standards.
Lisa Linfield: 00:18:48 For much of your career, particularly in leadership, you, like many women, have been one of the only women in the room. You also happen to be, again, a woman in a male brand and a male environment. Beer is predominately men. Have you experienced challenge from that? Have you experienced that being a woman, and being the only woman in the conversation has been a difficult journey for you?
Andrea Quaye: 00:19:15 Luckily, marketing is generally an environment that’s 50-50. Within marketing, and as I moved up the marketing kind of rank, I’ve never felt that, even in a beer company. There are lots of women, the head of insights is a woman, innovations, really powerful women. I suppose my stint on Carling made me realize that, actually, there are values in a very masculine brand that a woman can hold. We used to deal with a lot of the sales guys, lots of men, and I remember, I don’t know. When I make it a problem is when I’m not centered, is when I’m doubting myself. When I doubt myself it’s a problem. The men are a problem, but when I’m not doubting myself I can just deal with it. One of the things that I work quite hard on is making sure that I’ve got an internal locus of control. When things happen I have to decide how I react to them, instead of saying, “Oh, but it’s so and so, and it’s so and so.” As soon as you start blaming other people, or you start looking externally, it’s when you kind of relinquish your power. I experienced it, as I explained to you, when I moved onto the board at SAB and this whole thing about men. It hasn’t been something that has held me back, but what I also realize is that most women don’t respond the way I do, and that has been a great lesson.
Lisa Linfield: 00:20:36 What do you mean by that?
Andrea Quaye: 00:20:38 I can deal with it. I make sense out of it, and I just move forward because I know what I want. I find a lot of women in corporate South Africa, or where I work, battle with the man-female thing. I suppose that’s one of the things that I’m learning. I’m learning to put myself in other people’s shoes, because not everybody is like me. That’s been quite an interesting journey for me because I’m like, “Oh, come on, just focus on what you’ve got to do, and ignore everyone else,” which is what I do. Not everyone’s wired that way. Sometimes people, they have more empathy, so they feel more.
I’ve experienced sexism. I remember going with my colleagues to Cape Town, and we went to the Southern Sun. We were all standing there, the whole board and everything, and the general manager of the hotel came and spoke to everyone except me, like I was invisible. In my position I’m very visible because I have a position now, but when you don’t have a position you become very invisible, and men don’t talk to you because they don’t think you’re worth anything.
Lisa Linfield: 00:21:38 Or, they’ll assume you’re the secretary.
Andrea Quaye: 00:21:40 Totally.
Lisa Linfield: 00:21:41 I remember going on a board meeting at this most beautiful lodge in Wales. This amazing environment, and I remember that the functions coordinator came to me and said, “What time would you like tea, and then what time would you like lunch, and then what time …” I turned around and I said, “I have no idea.” Her assumption was that I was the bring-along-secretary who was going to organize everything, meanwhile I had a seat at the table.
Andrea Quaye: 00:22:05 Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 00:22:06 “You’re a woman, and you’re assuming that I don’t have my own seat at the table. You don’t go and ask any of the men what time they’d like tea, but you come and ask the only woman in the whole thing like I’m the tea lady.” It’s like, “No, friend.”
Andrea Quaye: 00:22:18 People, I think, with less positional power, women with less positional power feel that impact a lot more. I suppose the culture in South Africa is one of respecting elders. There are many things at play. There’s positional power. There’s kind of hierarchy and how you respond to somebody, you don’t really challenge them. All of these things, we have to learn, especially women in powerful positions have got to learn how to, one, empathize and understand what it is, and not just say, “Come on, just do it. Come, let me show you, let me give you this book to read,” but really step in their shoes.
Then, two, have the right conversations, because that’s also one of the things that I’m doing. I feel that it is my responsibility to bring the gender issue to the table. When you’re talking about people’s performance, and I very particular about how men describe women, it’s very important. It’s subtle, and the whole lean in book as well. That’s one of the things. I feel it is my responsibility to bring it, although, there are more women on our board now, we’re still a minority. The men don’t necessarily welcome it because they feel like we are complaining or we are whining. I’ve just learned that it’s my job, and I have to do it.
Lisa Linfield: 00:23:33 I think all women in senior leadership positions do have to do it, because it also gets drowned out in other issues such as race, diversity, and things like that, that people forget that also one of the major challenges globally, not South Africa, globally, is this challenge of so few women in leadership. Whether or not you’re originally saw yourself as a person championing women’s issues, by nature of your role as a woman in senior leadership you have to take on that role-
Andrea Quaye: 00:23:33 No, you do.
Lisa Linfield: 00:24:05 … because you have to be the voice of the people who do suffer a lot of that. Do you find that as you do business in different countries, especially in Africa, that different countries are further ahead or further behind in terms of women at the board table?
Andrea Quaye: 00:24:22 It’s quite a funny thing because that’s one of the things that we’re working on for our category. The beer category is very masculine. The interesting thing is that South Africa, and the whole of Africa, is a lot more developed in terms of having women at the table than some of the other developed countries.
Lisa Linfield: 00:24:41 Wow.
Andrea Quaye: 00:24:42 Yeah. Like our sales force, more and more women are coming in. I think South Africa with this drive for diversity also means that those are the things happening. I think we have a lot more conversations about it. I remember when I was appointed VP of Africa and I went for a global meeting, the number of women that came up to me from all over the world, from Latin America, from the States to say, “Thank you.” There was another women, another marketing lady who was a VP. There are two female VPs.
Lisa Linfield: 00:25:10 Out of?
Andrea Quaye: 00:25:11 I don’t know if it’s 200 or whatever. Funnily enough, I think we’re quite ahead. It’s weird.
Lisa Linfield: 00:25:17 That’s great.
Andrea Quaye: 00:25:17 It is.
Lisa Linfield: 00:25:18 I guess something that you mentioned just made me think is because of our history we are much more in tune with brazen inequality, probably than anywhere else, where it is an issue that is always on every corporate board’s agenda, is inequality, and in a country as a whole, let alone just in corporates. You’ve chosen a career as a corporate person. The train these days is everyone must start their own business, and be an entrepreneur, and with your skillset you could start a marketing agency tomorrow. Why have you chosen a corporate career?
Andrea Quaye: 00:25:53 I think I fell in to a corporate career to kind of start off with, and because I’m driven by learning I love being, not just any corporate, I love ABI and SAB because I’m surrounded by people that I feel are much more intelligent than me, or have much more experience than me, so I’m always learning. I suppose that’s why I enjoy corporate. I haven’t tried entrepreneurship, so I don’t know what it’s like, but through my lens I think it might be a bit lonely. I don’t know if I would interact with the level of people that I interact.
For me, that interaction and that opportunity to learn is so important that it keeps me going. I think there are different types of corporates, the smaller corporates and big corporates. I’ve grown fundamentally within SAB and ABI. I remember a friend of mine saying, “Oh, but you’re playing it safe.” I’m not playing it safe. Each time I am being thrown into the deep end and learning new things. I suppose as long as I’m learning I will be happy.
Lisa Linfield: 00:26:55 If I was a youngster starting out in a corporate, and I look at Andrea and I go, “Goodness, one day I’d like to be in that position,” what career advice would you give me?
Andrea Quaye: 00:27:09 Lots. I suppose the first thing is that hard work pays. Generally, most people have similar IQs, but it’s the people that go the extra mile that make the difference. The second thing is your relationships and your connections. A lot of people feel uncomfortable with this, and I used to feel uncomfortable with it as well. That was always my development area. I needed to be more visible to senior leadership, and I was like, “Gosh, how am I going to talk to all of these people? I don’t know them. I’ve got nothing in common with them.” My learning, and I’ve learned how to do this now, is you’ve got to do it in a way that is natural to you, and in a way that is authentic because the worst thing is like sucking up. I don’t have drinks at the pub every day like someone people do. I’m a mother, I’m a wife. I have to go home. I work, and then I go home.
I interact with different people, and I look to learn from different people. The conversations that I have are always about that, are always about, “I heard you’re doing this thing, or I hear you’re from this country. Tell me a little bit more about that.” Engaging with people, and I find a lot of young people, especially women, they stand in their corners and they keep quiet. You have to go introduce yourself, get to know somebody new. Make it a point. If you’re going to a function make it worth your while.
Lisa Linfield: 00:28:30 Absolutely.
Andrea Quaye: 00:28:31 Learn something new. The other thing is, and I find that this helps a lot, don’t be driven by money. Someone people think that you’ve got to job hop. Money’s important. I left a job once because my male colleague was paid twice as much as I did.
Lisa Linfield: 00:28:46 Oh, my goodness.
Andrea Quaye: 00:28:46 Yes. So, I did leave, which was silly. I should have confronted it, but I also learned my lesson there. Money is important. Being paid fairly is important, but don’t make decisions based on money. Don’t make decisions based on title or on status. Make decisions based on your long-term goal and your long-term career.
The reality is that a normal person’s work career is about 40 years. People get really impatient and want, “Oh, but so and so has been promoted, and so and so has been promoted.” You’ve got to have your own journey. I started work at 26. Most of my colleagues were 23, and, yeah, some of them were promoted ahead of me, but everyone’s got their own journey. Figure out what yours is, and find joy, find purpose in what you do, and the rest will come.
Lisa Linfield: 00:29:34 It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Andrea Quaye: 00:29:35 Totally. It is a marathon. If you do go for title and you do go for money sometimes you’re not doing things that are building your skillset for the future. Then, find a way of being introspective. A lot of people journal, a lot of the introvert types journal, and that’s good. I don’t journal. I find it very difficult to journal, but what I do is I talk to people, and I talk to coaches. I talk to my mentors, and that, for me, is a way of reflecting. I talk to my husband, actually. He’s one of my mentors. It’s a way of reflecting on what you’re doing, and does it really sit well with you, so I think that’s really an important thing.
Lisa Linfield: 00:30:13 Besides your husband, are your mentors mostly women, or are they men, or are they both?
Andrea Quaye: 00:30:17 Funnily enough, they’re mostly men because of the environment that I worked in. I’ve got a wonderful mentor that’s in the States. He used to be really a high-powered Coke executive, so he helps me a lot. I’ve also got friends that I talk to. Friends that know me, especially when I’m feeling insecure. I find it difficult to talk to a man about that, so I’ll call a friend. I’ve got a friend called Mosidi who started her own business. I’ll talk to her, especially when I’m feeling very insecure, and she will call me out and challenge me and, “This is not you. This is not the Andrea I know,” and that helps a lot.
Lisa Linfield: 00:30:53 I think it’s important to have those people, not the ones that go, “Oh, friend, I know it’s so hard. It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.” You need the ones that actually say, “Hey, you’re not being true to you. You’re allowing those doubts to take over your brain.”
Andrea Quaye: 00:31:10 Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 00:31:10 “Off you go.”
Andrea Quaye: 00:31:10 Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 00:31:11 I’ve heard many reasons as to why they’re not so many women on the board room from the glass ceiling, the male factor, all that. One of the big reasons, I think also, it’s the challenge of when you have kids, and now suddenly you’ve got this job that’s demanding, and people who you’re leading, and now you’ve got kids that you really want to spend some time with. You’re a mum of two of the most amazing little girls I know. Well mannered, bright, fun, spunky girls. How have you managed this work-life balance thing?
Andrea Quaye: 00:31:44 My belief around work-life balance is that it’s out of balance when you’re not happy with what you’re doing. My career is really important to me. I have to get joy out of that. As long as I’m getting joy out of my work, that’s something that’s really important. That puts me in balance. The first thing is, obviously, the right partner. That is probably the greatest career decision any woman can make. Marry somebody that is a partner, that is a cheerleader, that doesn’t feel threatened by your success, that supports you, and that you can support back, because I think also it could go the other way. Marry somebody that you consider your equal and that will grow with you. It’s not always easy. I think I kind of stumbled on my husband, but I knew that he was a confident man. Marrying somebody that is confident in who he is and what he brings to the party is something really important.
The other thing I’ve found about work-life balance, and actually one of my own bosses, Ian, taught me this one, is you’ve got to figure out what the important things are. Is it that you want to be with your kids for supper twice a week, or three times a week, or is it that you want be at the swimming galas? Decide on what the important things are that you want to be at, and the make that call. Most managers at this point in time, they fully understand that. “My daughter’s got a recital. I’d really like to go. I hope you don’t mind. I’ll work in the extra hours.” Those are the conversations you need to be having with your manager or with your team. Having the work-life balance for me means that I excel at work, and I am there when it matters the most.
Picking my kids up from school and driving them to different places, for me, is not what I want to do. I find it is quite stressful. I don’t think you have the greatest moments. The other thing is I try and get home about 6:00, so then I’ve got an hour and a half with the girls before they sleep, so I don’t cook. I taught my nanny how to cook. She goes to great cooking lessons, so that when I get home I throw my computer in my room. I put my cellphone aside, and then I have time to connect. That, for me, is really important, and then weekends. I suppose work-life balance means that you have to trade-off certain things. I’ve traded-off a little bit of my social life. I have a terrible social life.
Lisa Linfield: 00:34:08 Me too.
Andrea Quaye: 00:34:10 I’m happy to trade that off so that I can be with my kids. For 24 hours on a Saturday, on a Sunday, that is my primary role. I’ve made very deliberate choices because I think the whole thing about work-life balance is you get consumed by a sense of unhappiness, and you’ve got to break things down. You’ve got to break them down and say, “If I can do this, I think this would be good enough balance. If I can do that, this is good enough.” Then when being at work you’ve got to be present. I don’t gossip by the tea station. When I’m at work, I am working flat-out. I make the most out of my day, I don’t waste time. I don’t sit at work wishing I was at home.
Lisa Linfield: 00:34:48 One of the realizations that I had, or have had to leave, was this whole thing that as the mum I would be at all of my girls’ things, and I’m not because John and I share them. I think one of the things is to change your mindset that you personally have to be there at every single recital and gala and things like that. If one of you, if you’re both having to step up at different times, then your children don’t feel it as much that if there was the expectation that only one of you is there. Does Saks help out in these things?
Andrea Quaye: 00:35:17 You are absolutely right, definitely. Like for the school stuff, if it’s like reports and everything we will both go. That’s a non-negotiable, but we do take turns with the swimming galas and some of the other stuff. Analia went for district hockey, so Saks would do that, so we do take turns. Actually, as you’re saying, that takes a lot of pressure off you.
Lisa Linfield: 00:35:37 For those of you that don’t know Andrea, her husband is the CEO of a large insurance company. You’re both making it work despite both of you being in enormously senior leadership positions. I guess it comes down to what you said, partnership. It’s a mutual, equal partnership where you both support each other’s careers. That enables both of you to flourish. It’s not that you’re having an amazing career, and he’s staying at home. You both have these amazing careers. You’re raising two girls. I think our world has changed a lot, and I think the value of women is definitely a growing factor. How are you raising them such that they would be the leaders of tomorrow?
Andrea Quaye: 00:36:20 I think the most important thing is that your kids are happy, and that they’re confident. I think building confidence is probably the greatest job that a parent needs to have. I suppose I grew up in an environment where I’ve got an older brother. There weren’t different expectations for me and for my brother. We were both expected to do well at school. We were both expected to help with the house work. I’ve grown up in that sort of environment. The way I bring up my kids is not different to the way I suppose my parents brought me.
It is about the confidence, and it is about helping your children find their strengths and what they’re really good at that will ensure that whatever they do they need to excel in, and not comparing, and giving them opportunities. Giving them different opportunities, because I think for the future our kids have to be able to be part engineers, part artists, part musicians. This idea of specializing in something is actually not a skill that will be required in the future, so, really, about giving them different experiences.
Travel is very important to us as a family. We love to travel. We love to travel to different places of the world so that their eyes are opened, so that they don’t see South Africa as being the be-all and end-all of what they have to do. We talk a lot to them. I talk a lot to them about things that impact them that are happening in the world, and really having conversations and understanding where they are coming from.
You’ve just got to be, I suppose, very open, open to your weaknesses. One of the things that I’m probably not very good at is expressing emotions. I can express love and happiness and all of that, but sadness is something that I find very difficult to express. It’s about acknowledging that in the kids. When they’re sad or when they’re crying, it’s about not just saying, “Don’t worry. It’ll be better.” It’s really about acknowledging the emotion, having kids that have strong EQ is as important as having kids with a strong IQ.
Lisa Linfield: 00:38:24 Hugely important. I’ve always thought that IQ gets you to middle management, but middle management and above requires EQ in your relationships. You lead by example in that you were born in Ghana. You grew up in Brazil. You did high school in Swaziland, and you did your university in France, and came back to South Africa. You speak English and Portuguese and Spanish and French. Your husband speaks Zulu, so that’s also in your house. How does that multiculturalism impact your leadership role and impact the way you are?
Andrea Quaye: 00:39:00 I suppose having lived in so many different countries and different cultures means that I can adapt very easily, so in environments with huge amount of change, so like the change that we’ve had. I don’t find change uncomfortable. I quite like change. I often look for change. I think speaking different languages allows you to empathize with different cultures. I think that’s a very important thing, especially if you are working in a big, global corporate environment because the reality is that people’s culture permeates the way they behave. To read that, to read people and understand where they’re coming from, and not see things as an insult, but actually see it as just that’s their culture, that’s where they come from, is really helpful in navigating a global environment.
I’m very curious. I’m curious about people and their backgrounds and where they come from, so I suppose having had that experience I quickly connect with people by finding something that is common. For example, a lot of the leaders in my current company are Brazilians. I speak Portuguese, my mom is Brazilian. I lived in Brazil, so I can quickly shortcut to something that connects people. Then you can start talking about work. I suppose that’s what it’s done for me.
The other thing that it does is that I’ve always felt a little bit like an outsider. I’ve never felt like I am totally the same as anyone else, but I’m quite comfortable with that. Even working at an SAB/ABI where it’s a mainly male-dominated environment, and I’m a woman, I can still find my space in many different environments because I’m so clear about, “This is me,” and there not many people like me. I’m not going to look to be in a clique. I think as women going into male environments you’ve got to feel comfortable at times, just not back-slapping.
Lisa Linfield: 00:40:56 Absolutely. Also, the higher up the triangle you get the lonelier it is, the more you’ve got to be comfortable with, “It’s me.” It’s very easy when you’re in junior levels that all of you go out for drinks. Those first jobs are wonderful. They become your best friends, and you have all of these amazing experiences together. As you grow further up the chain it gets lonelier and lonelier, and you need to be able to be comfortable not fitting in because you now suddenly don’t fit in as well with the people who were your colleagues because now you’re their boss. You know?
Andrea Quaye: 00:41:25 Lisa, I’m so glad you’re saying this. I thought it was just me. My kids laugh at me because they say, “So, who are your friends at work?” I’m like, “I don’t have friends at work.” I enjoy working with people. I have connections with people, but I don’t have that group of friends, exactly as you’re talking about. When I was a junior at Unilever, my goodness gracious, it was amazing.
Lisa Linfield: 00:41:44 Absolutely.
Andrea Quaye: 00:41:44 Then it’s just you and yourself, and you’ve got to find your sources of support outside of work.
Lisa Linfield: 00:41:50 Absolutely.
Andrea Quaye: 00:41:51 Because, also, if work becomes everything and things don’t go well, then you fall to pieces. While, if you’ve got a group of friends outside of work, if you’ve got a family, if you’ve got all of these things, then you just become a wholer person, in a way.
Lisa Linfield: 00:42:04 I remember promoting one of the women that worked for me, and she said, “What do I need to know?” I said, “From now onwards the team that works for you are not your friends. Your job is to be the best boss that they can have, but it’s not to be their friend.” I always used to say that to my new employees, “My job is not to be your best friend. My job is to give you the greatest career you’ve ever had.” It doesn’t mean that over time we all collect colleagues or subordinates over time. There’s that one or two that become friends over time.
Andrea Quaye: 00:42:33 So true, yeah.
Lisa Linfield: 00:42:34 I loved my corporate colleagues. I miss them, and I loved having that brain power with people to bounce things off and all of that kind of stuff. But you will realize that as you leave companies that was a contextual relationship to work. It’s not necessarily a true and deep friendship. I know that I can call on any of my old colleagues in half a second. We could have a great lunch, or if they called on me from a work perspective anytime, but it’s situational. As you get further up those people get less and less and less.
Andrea Quaye: 00:43:05 That’s so true.
Lisa Linfield: 00:43:06 Because it is, the leadership is lonely. Thinking of your Unilever days and the great friends one had in those days, I was talking to a guy the other day who was finance director of a mine. I said to him, “Did you grow up and go, ‘Hey, when I grow up I think I’m going to be finance director of a mine?'” He said, “No way.” Mining wasn’t even on his radar, but one of his first audits in a large audit firm, a global audit firm was to go and audit a mine. Then he ended up in mining. You went to France, and you got this honors in economics. Then you went and did your master’s in international business. Did you go and say, “Well, hey, I’m going to target Unilever because of X, Y and Z?” Or, was it like most of us when it was like, “I just need a job at something that pays the rent,” my first job.
Andrea Quaye: 00:43:54 Lord, you know, I studied economics by chance as well because I’m numerous, but I’m also creative. I always look for something that affords me those two things. I remember when I came back to South Africa in ’97 a friend of mine was at Unilever, and she says, “Come. They’re doing interviews for this graduate intake.” I was like, “Oh, my gosh. That sounds amazing,” for marketing. I had to look up marketing to understand what it was.
Then I went, and I did this interview, and I just think it was meant to happen. I’ve always wanted to work for a good company. My father was a baby boomer, so, “Have a great education, and work for a great company.” I was like, “Okay, let me work for a great company.” That’s how I kind of stumbled upon it, and then I really, really enjoyed it. Marketing was not something that I thought I’d be doing. I thought I’d work in a bank. Now, as I think of it I don’t think I could work in a bank. Then, yeah, so it just kind of happened. I went with the flow, and I enjoyed it, and I just, you know?
Lisa Linfield: 00:44:54 Yeah. One of the great advantages of being in leadership is the opportunity to give back. Towards the end of last year ABI launched a campaign that you spearheaded, which is called #NoExcuses. It wasn’t just for the 16 days of activism, although, you launched it in the 16 days of activism. You, as a company, have committed to a five year program to fight abuse of women and children. I slightly look at it as quite an interesting move from ABI because, not so much, but there is definitely an accelerating factor in abuse of women and children related to alcohol. Why would an alcohol company go and spearhead a campaign that’s, basically, targeted towards men, and, potentially, could alienate some of their consumers?
Andrea Quaye: 00:45:48 Carling, as I said, very close to my heart. As a company we’re a good corporate citizen, and if our society is not healthy, as a company we don’t feel like we will survive in the long-term. There’s a connection between the abuse of alcohol and gender-based violence. The stats are horrific. I think it’s about 60%, so it’s abusing substances. It could be alcohol. It could be drugs, or it could be all of that, so there is definitely that tension. We just reached a point where we felt we had to be part of the conversation. We cannot turn a blind eye to that. We are implicated in this thing, and we don’t want to be implicated in it. We don’t want South Africans to be drinking irresponsibly.
We jumped into this conversation, and we jumped into this space because we feel that we can make a difference. Our brands are very strong. People listen to our brands when we talk or when we launch a new innovation. We want to change behavior. We would rather have people drinking moderately than a small group of people drinking a lot. That’s not sustainable. That’s not sustainable for the company. That’s not sustainable for the country.
More and more the young people, millennials, are looking for brands that have a point of view on stuff. I think for too long we haven’t had a point of view on things that matter, and this matters. It was something that we did a lot of research on. I remember being trained for interviews and everything because it’s potentially quite a hectic space to go in, but it’s been good. People appreciate it. We did some research, and like 87% of people that see it, see it as a positive thing, see it as a good thing that we are taking charge, and we’re doing something about it, because not everybody sees alcohol as the devil, but people abuse it. When we did the research we saw that 50% of South African men think it’s okay to abuse women.
Lisa Linfield: 00:47:44 Wow.
Andrea Quaye: 00:47:45 Yeah, sometimes, not always, but sometimes. That’s not okay.
Lisa Linfield: 00:47:49 No.
Andrea Quaye: 00:47:49 That’s not okay. As a brand, if you stand for masculinity you’ve got to shape the new masculinity, and we can do that. That’s what we want to do.
Lisa Linfield: 00:47:59 How are you going to do it? It’s a great strategy. It’s a lovely idea. It’s needed beyond all things. Three women die every single day in South Africa at the hands of their partner. It’s hugely important, but a brand campaign might be able to foster a conversation, but how are you actually going to change behavior?
Andrea Quaye: 00:48:20 Firstly, we don’t want to do this alone. We’re looking for partners, people to join us in it because this is a big problem. We put our biggest brand because it’s the biggest problem. There’s a campaign that raises awareness, and that’s an important thing to do. It’s an important thing to do throughout the year because we don’t want to just do it in the 16 days of activism. We are also using our distribution as a way of engaging people. We have a squad. They’re called the Smart Drinking Squad who will go into 10 thousand taverns to have conversations with men-
Lisa Linfield: 00:48:20 Wonderful.
Andrea Quaye: 00:48:51 … about gender-based violence, and to start changing perception. It is something that’s very difficult, but we are giving it our all. When we set out to do something at SAB, we do it. We’re using our distribution. We are raising awareness with the television and commercial and all of that stuff. The other thing we’re doing is we’re working with community radio stations to open up those conversations and to challenge people around gender-based violence. We’ve partnered with government, and we’ve partnered with an NGO called Takuwani Riime. We will be working on programs with them. We will be working on problems with them. We are very aware that this is something that can’t just happen on television. It’s got to happen on the ground.
Lisa Linfield: 00:49:29 When I was researching it, you mentioned about having local nodes, so creating a champion man in your area. What does that mean?
Andrea Quaye: 00:49:38 It’s called the SANAC, South African National AIDS Council. Part of their men’s sector, what they want to do is they want to create forums and men’s forums. In the say way that there are stokvels, they want to create men’s forums. Men’s forums already exist in the townships and some of the rural kind of areas where men get together, men that kind of live on a street. They talk about electricity, they talk about the things that impact their communities.
What we want to do is we want to help with our NGO create those men’s forums, and put gender-based violence as one of the topics that they discuss and that they engage in because there are a lot of men that don’t think gender-based violence is okay. We want to give them the courage to hold each other accountable, because what we are saying is that if you don’t do anything about it you are complicit.
Lisa Linfield: 00:50:28 Absolutely. Absolutely. Are there other causes that are close to your heart?
Andrea Quaye: 00:50:33 There’s that. We are also working on moderation, which is really important. South Africans, as a whole, some of them binge drink, and that’s not good. We launched a Castle Zero recently, which is a zero percent alcohol beer. It’s really delicious. It tastes like beer, I promise you. The idea is we want to teach people how to pace. If you have two beers, have a Castle Zero, because we have these long sessions where there’s a braai.
Lisa Linfield: 00:50:59 Yeah, absolutely.
Andrea Quaye: 00:51:00 You start at noon, and you finish at midnight. You cannot be consuming alcohol all that time. What we are trying to do is introduce that. We’re launching low-alcohol beers in order to change consumer behavior. I suppose those are the things that we’re doing as a company and that I’m involved in.
Lisa Linfield: 00:51:18 That’s huge. I remember when I went to Oxford University. I was about 28 years old, maybe I was 26. One of the things that really struck me there was a piece of research that Diageo had done, which is an international also alcohol, but more in terms of a lot of their launch is around alcopops. Some of the research that had come back was that in Britain at that time, which was 2003-2004, there was the highest growing sector of binge drinkers was women, young women at university.
I remember being an older student at university, and having all these young women around me, and seeing them passed out like they are in any university. I think it is such an important message, that binge drinking is not okay because it has such bad health impacts to you. It could have safety impacts to you. I absolutely think that the rise of binge drinking in women also is a major issue to target. That’s also a fantastic initiative they you’re doing. If were to do your career again what would you change?
Andrea Quaye: 00:52:32 I wouldn’t change a thing.
Lisa Linfield: 00:52:34 Oh, that’s fantastic.
Andrea Quaye: 00:52:35 I really, I wouldn’t change a thing. I regret nothing. I see everything as an opportunity to learn and to grow, so I really wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t change the six months of mousiness on the board. I wouldn’t. I really wouldn’t.
Lisa Linfield: 00:52:50 And your future?
Andrea Quaye: 00:52:52 And my future? Yeah, that’s a very, very good question. It’s a tough one. The funny thing is I’m ambitious, but I never thought I’d get this far. I didn’t.
Lisa Linfield: 00:53:00 Okay, [inaudible 00:53:01].
Andrea Quaye: 00:53:01 It is. I never thought I’d be marketing director of SAB South Africa. I never thought I’d get that far.
Lisa Linfield: 00:53:10 Let alone African.
Andrea Quaye: 00:53:12 I know. Yeah, so I just want to put out some amazing campaigns out there. I want to make a difference. I want this NoExcuse thing to have a real impact on South Africans and in South Africa. I want to grow the moderation category. There was a time where I thought I wanted to be an MD and run a company, and I just realized that I love the creative side of my job too much. I just want to do things that have big impact, and that change society. That’s my ambition.
Lisa Linfield: 00:53:40 You’re in such a great position to do it.
Andrea Quaye: 00:53:41 Totally.
Lisa Linfield: 00:53:43 Absolutely. It would be remiss of me because our listeners, many of them either have their own business or are in marketing, and would just kill to have a few minutes to download your brain and say, “As such a globally-successful marketer …” We could read books on it. The internet is full of gabillions of things on marketing. The definition of marketing is as broad as they possibly come, you know?
Andrea Quaye: 00:53:43 Totally. Yeah.
Lisa Linfield: 00:54:07 If were a small entrepreneur, firstly, what would be the basic things in order to build a good brand and market your business? Secondly, if you’re a corporate marketer what are the basics? Cut away all the junk and the huge amount of words that come with it. What is it all about?
Andrea Quaye: 00:54:26 For a small company and a small corporate, marketing should not be left to the marketing department. Marketing should be for everyone. Often, the reason companies are built is what you need to build your brand around, do don’t forget that. The founder’s story is often an important backstory that allows you to position your brand. If you started your Women’s Wealth because you saw too many women not saving enough or not being in charge of their money, you’ve got to take that into your brand and into your brand DNA. It’s got to be your purpose. A brand with purpose is so important. You’ve got to be clear on that. It’s great to document it because as people change and different people come, people add new things, so that, for me, would be the most important thing. Really, why is it that you exist? Being able to articulate that.
The second piece of advice that I’d give is you’ve got to be consumer-facing. It cannot be about just making a profit because you will get called-out. You’ve got to make sure that your brand is aligned to what your customers and what your consumer wants, and you’ve got to pick a lane, rather be polarizing. You’ve picked women. I could say to you, “But, what about men? Men need to understand about wealth.”
Lisa Linfield: 00:55:47 Absolutely.
Andrea Quaye: 00:55:47 Pick a lane because the bigger companies generally straddle many more sectors, so you’ve got to pick one that you feel is under-serviced, or you feel you’ve got a product that would be really different in. Then, the third piece of advice I’d give is be super-creative because to break through is so, so difficult. Don’t copy anyone else, or if you copy make it better, but you’ve got to be creative to really break through. The digital era has arrived. South Africans are not going mobile. South Africans are mobile. Your phone is never further than half a meter from you. Understand the digital space, and to break through in the digital space you’ve got to do stuff that makes you uncomfortable, that might polarize. As long as 70% for your target market likes it, you’re cool, but you’ve got to do something that really polarizes.
In terms of like a bigger corporate, I suppose the same applies. Be clear about what your brand stands for in terms of its purpose. Be clear about who your target market is, who you are targeting it against. Don’t get bogged up in process because that happens. We’ve got all of these frameworks, and these frameworks sometimes, they’re great as strategy pieces, but you’ve got to give the freedom to your teams and your agencies to make sure that whatever you put in market really breaks through.
I suppose the big thing around big corporates is you’ve got to have diverse teams. You’ve got to have teams that have different perspectives on life, come from different backgrounds. You can see some of the scandals that have happened in H&M. There was Outsurance here in South Africa. You’ve got to build teams that are very diverse because we know that diverse teams are exponential in terms of their ability to solve complex problems, and the ability to deliver excellence.
I suppose your partners are really important, your agencies. You’ve got to choose agencies that have similar purpose to you, that have affinities to your brand. We’re often accused of brainwashing people, but if I see one of my agency people drinking another beer brand, it’s a problem. It’s because you don’t buy into my brand or what? What’s the story? Find people that have the same purpose as you.
Lisa Linfield: 00:58:09 For both a small business and a big corporate, if you were limited to one channel what would that channel be?
Andrea Quaye: 00:58:18 It depends on your target market. My advice would be follow where the growth is. The growth is digital. Understand digital, understand social media. Understand how Google works. Understand how Facebook ads work. I would definitely say understand digital because by 2023 50% of South Africa’s population is going to be 25 years old and younger, and 25 years old and younger are digital natives. They never grew up watching TV. They don’t read papers. They read everything on their phone, so I would definitely say digital. That’s where the market is going.
Lisa Linfield: 00:58:57 Well, it’s been so amazing to have you here. Thank you so much for taking your time out to come and chat to us, and for having such a powerful career and perspective that so many of us could learn from. Appreciate it very much.
Andrea Quaye: 00:59:11 Oh, thank you, Lisa. It’s been an absolute pleasure, and I’ve learned something about myself. As you were reflecting come of the comments, “And the mouse?” I’m like, “Oh, yeah, that was the mouse.” So, thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I just wish you all the best. What you’re doing is amazing.
Lisa Linfield: 00:59:27 Thank you.
Andrea Quaye: 00:59:28 You’re really doing something amazing. It is going to change the world, and I look forward to cheering you on and supporting you along your journey.
Lisa Linfield: 00:59:35 Thanks Andrea. That was Andrea Quaye, and, goodness, I am humbled to have had the opportunity to sit with her for an hour and just chat through her thoughts on career, on being a working woman, on managing work-life balance, and learned so much in terms of what she’s learned and how she’s grown as her career progressed. I loved her humility and honesty, and I loved her amazing energy and positivity.
Thanks so much for listening to us today. If you want to read more on Andrea, the show notes on our website will have more information. I would love to ask you all to subscribe, rate, and leave a review for the show, as it will help us to drive more listeners to learn more. I’m Lisa Linfield, and this is Working Women’s Wealth.