In The Loop With Sylvia Schutte

Women are making headway in the entrepreneurial landscape, but we still have a long way to go to eliminate the gender gap in terms of entrepreneurial involvement, says Sylvia Schutte.


Schutte is the managing director of Stratitude, a full-service marketing agency in Johannesburg. She started the company in 2009 and today has 15 employees and two special needs interns. Our host, Zizipho chats to Sylvia Schutte tonight at 5:30pm

Stratitude is the exclusive South African member agency of Advertising & Marketing Independent Network (AMIN) Worldwide, an alliance of over 50 independent marketing agencies from around the world.

“The idea for Stratitude came from recognising the frustration that clients feel at having to brief multiple agencies,” says Schutte. “I saw a gap in the market for an integrated agency that could develop a communications strategy for a client and then offer all the marketing services in-house, from digital and direct marketing, to PR and social media.

Factors that hinder success

Women face many barriers in business, including a lack of support structures, limited access to funding, and the challenge of juggling personal and work responsibilities. Fortunately for Schutte, finance wasn’t an issue, as her business partners invested in her and the company.

“The financing backing for Stratitude enabled me to concentrate my efforts on building the business. With this support I could focus on clients’ needs and strategically partnering with them to deliver the best possible results. But running a business can be lonely, so I network to share ideas and to see how I can do things in a more decisive and efficient way,” explains Schutte.


Relieving stress

When it comes to work-life integration, Schutte takes a pragmatic approach. In the same way she won’t think twice about working from home when necessary, she will also take time out during the day to watch her children play sport or take them to the doctor. While keeping office hours, when on deadline she can be behind her laptop at 5am or 11pm.

“I truly love what I do but just like any business, there are moments of stress and to relieve this tension I run and swim. Swimming is my meditation and thinking time, and a good run in the morning helps me see the world more clearly. When it comes to relaxation, I make time to go to the beach or berg; I love the mountains and get recharged at the sea. As a family we also ensure that we take mini-breaks over weekends and commit to spending time with friends,” says Schutte.

Positive attitude

Women entrepreneurs are increasing in South Africa and, according to Schutte, they offer a unique optimism and focus in the business environment.

“While women look at the big picture and plan ahead, they also place emphasis on staff members and growing each individual. At Stratitude we have internal mentorship, training and coaching programmes to ensure that our skills are always up to date and to nurture our passion, as this comes out in the work we produce,” says Schutte.

To help solve South Africa’s unemployment crisis, Schutte wants to see more women-owned and led businesses. She believes women should be creating jobs, rather than looking for jobs, and in this way start to impact the country’s business landscape and economy for the better.


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