Saatchi & Saatchi's Gail Curtis Gives BUSA a Creativity Injection

Johannesburg - BUSA (Business Unity South Africa) is set to get an injection of creativity with the appointment of Saatchi & Saatchi Group SA CEO, Gail Curtis, to BUSA's Board of Trustees. She is the first representative the organisation has appointed from the creative sector.

BUSA represents 'one voice of business' in South Africa, encompassing organisations from many sectors, chambers of commerce and industry, professional bodies, and women and black business interest groups, and is utilised by the Presidency as a means to engage with 'captains of industry'.

Commenting on her appointment, BUSA's Executive: Chambers and Membership, Costa Pierides says, "We are delighted that Gail has accepted BUSA's CEO's invitation to join our exclusive club of business personalities, and look forward to her participation and involvement in the months and years ahead."

Pierides says that Gail stands out amongst her peers in the advertising industry as a person who pushes the envelope, and is not scared to address issues of a sensitive nature. "Our Board of Trustees is made up of people who have been selected exactly for this reason and she approaches challenges from a fresh or different angle."

He points out that as a general rule, BUSA targets people who have high levels of moral and ethical values who will be "ambassadors" of the business community in South Africa.

"Gail Curtis had a unique set of credentials," he adds. "We needed someone with an artistic flair that would bring a creative side of business to the equation, and she certainly has this capacity, and some. We also saw her as coming from a leading company in her field with a known pedigree worldwide. We expect that she will equally enjoy the presence and stature of her contemporaries on the Board and that this will add value to the Saatchi and Saatchi brand."

"The organisation has a dynamic team of specialist people whose purpose it is to ensure that the unity voice of business is heard in all sectors of our society," he explains. "To this end, the Board of Trustees, of which Gail Curtis is a part, is at the pinnacle of the organisation and this is where government recognises the group we have, as the 'captains of industry'. We intend to continue to push the envelope as the organisation continues to grow."

Commenting on her appointment, Curtis says that she is delighted to be part of a team that provides direct input on BUSA's strategic planning, with a consequential effect on the South African business environment.

"The inclusion for the first time, of a representative from the creative sector on the Board of Trustees is a big step in the right direction," she adds. "No matter what business sector you are in, business leaders need to start thinking differently, and change the way they have done things in the past."

She goes on to say that the world is more complex and therefore successful innovative solutions are needed. "Creativity, ideas and innovative thinking are demanded at this time," she adds.  "Saatchi & Saatchi is a global ideas company that believes in the importance of creativity and innovation for personal, social and economic development."

Following Saatchi & Saatchi's acquisition of The Old Shanghai Firecracker Factory in 2005, which Curtis founded, she was appointed to Saatchi & Saatchi as CEO and regional head of the group's Africa Network in October 2005 and in 2006 was appointed to the international (Europe, Middle East and Africa) CEO board.

Curtis has played a major role in the reinvention of Saatchi & Saatchi in SA and Africa, growing the company into the 6th largest Marketing and Communications Group in South Africa. Under her leadership, a brand new, energetic attitude and creative focus has become the driving force of the company and over the last five years she has led the company back to the award tables and profitability.

Under her leadership, profits have increased by 54% over the last five years, with an average growth of 11% year on year. In 2010 the Group billings exceeded R300 million.

Curtis also sits on the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) board and is the IWFSA's (International Women's Forum of South Africa) Vice President.

Voted amongst the top ten 'SA Advertising most powerful and influential people' in AdReview in 2009, Curtis has also demonstrated great commitment to mentoring and training in SA: She is the founder and trustee of the Youth Education and Training Initiative (YETI) which funds the Imagination Labs in KwaMashu and Alexandra, enabling skills transfer through learnerships within agencies.

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