Sparks Electrical News

LEDVANCE wants to define the role of light in the digital age and in people’s connected daily lives and, as such, its promise is reflected in the company name – the objective is to advance light. James Clifford, Marketing & Communications Manager at LEDVANCE South Africa, is bringing his experience from years in the media to help assist the company grow in this new digital age. Sparks Electrical News spoke to him about the challenges currently facing the industry and to find out what inspires and motivates him on a daily basis.

Personality of the month James Clifford LedvanceSparks: Where were you educated?

JC: I attended Parktown Boys High School before furthering my studies at tertiary level – completing a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management – through IMM (The Institute of Marketing Management).

Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry?

JC: I come from a media background, and entered the electrical industry two years ago.

Sparks: When and where did you start your career?

JC: I began my career at a large media company in 2010 – working my way up from being a promoter/brand ambassador, to eventually managing below-the-line campaigns for large corporate clients.

Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?

JC: The largest change I have seen over the past few years within the marketing space would have to be the change from traditional, to digitalisation of content. Although Africa is slightly behind the rest of the world in terms of these developments, we are seeing a rapid increase in social media marketing, online campaigns that make it easier to reach your exact target audience, and of course, online e-commerce platforms, which make shopping online simpler for the customer as well as the supplier.

Sparks: What major projects have you worked on and what is your greatest accomplishment?

JC: The largest project I have worked on to date, which also serves as my greatest accomplishment, is launching the LEDVANCE brand locally as the new trusted partner for OSRAM general lighting products. As an independent company, LEDVANCE bundles the former OSRAM lamps business with new LED product lines under one roof. Combining traditional and LED bulbs, modern LED luminaires and connected lighting solutions, the LEDVANCE portfolio is aimed at professional users and private customers alike.

Sparks: Who has been your inspiration or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?

JC: I seem to draw inspiration from within myself, in terms of goals to achieve, targets to set and my own personal growth. In my school days I spent some time ‘job shadowing’ the marketing manager of a large international brand – and I knew this was exactly the career I wanted to pursue. I would say Sir Richard Branson has inspired me as well. After reading many of his books, I am intrigued by his attitude towards business and life in general. “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”

Sparks: What, to your mind, is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at this time?

JC: I definitely believe that inferior or sub-standard products entering the market are affecting the industry negatively. Consumers who are misinformed about certain lighting products are influenced to purchase products based on incorrect information and are not aware of some of the terrible quality standards out there. Operating within an extremely price sensitive market makes this rather common. That is why we take pride in the quality, and heritage, of our brand.

Sparks: What do you enjoy most about your job?

JC: I enjoy being able to work with people – happy people, inspiring people, challenging people. I enjoy being challenged each day. I have not had a single uneventful day since the day I started my career.

Sparks: How do you motivate your staff?

JC: Currently my department locally is a one-man-band, however, I believe fully in setting examples and leading from the front. People make mistakes, and as long as we learn from them and move forward, there is nothing lost.

Sparks: If you could ‘do it all again’, would you change anything?

JC: I would change absolutely nothing.

Sparks: Would you advise a person leaving school to enter the electrical industry?

JC: Certainly. It is not a glamorous industry by any stretch of the imagination, it is extremely competitive and trends change so frequently. However, it is very rewarding and very closely knit.

Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?

JC: My piece of advice would be: do your research on products when specifying for a project; there are many brands and products that ‘claim’ certain standards and deliverables, but the truth is far from this. Remember that within this industry, you have consumers' lives and wellbeing in your hands. Ensure that all safety standards are met.

Sparks: What is your favourite quote?

JC: Growing up, my mom would always say to me, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again!”

Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list’.

JC: To travel through Africa with my closest friends on adventure bikes, to watch a Formula 1 Grand Prix live and to learn to speak Zulu fluently.



Contact Sparks Electrical News

Title: Editor
Name: Gregg Cocking
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Carin Hannay
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108