“Hall of Fame” for excellence in branding in 2015. In 2010 he founded the Brand Africa initiative to re-imagine Africa’s image and competitiveness, and “Brand Africa 100 | Africa’s Best Brands,”

Building on a distinguished meteoric marketing career that started at Colgate Palmolive in New York, USA and concluded in 2002 after a lauded tenure as chief marketing officer for NIKE for Africa where he won over 75 industry awards globally, in 2002 he established Brand Leadership, an award-winning branding, strategic communications and intellectual property management firm which was inducted into the New York based REBRAND “Hall of Fame” for excellence in branding in 2015. In 2010 he founded the Brand Africa initiative to re-imagine Africa’s image and competitiveness, and “Brand Africa 100 | Africa’s Best Brands,” the widely cited survey and ranking of brands in Africa that covers 85% of the continent, to champion a brand-led African transformation agenda. In 2020 he founded the Africa Brand Leadership Academy [ABLA] to build the capacity and talent for Africa-focused brand leadership.

He has been to every country in Africa and has purposefully committed his life’s work to challenge, inspire and empower Africans to create and consume sustainable brands that will transform the continent’s image, reputation and competitiveness.

A trailblazing doyen of the industry, since being awarded a Marquette University American Marketing Association for marketing excellence upon graduation in 1992 at the start of his career, he has gone on to be recognized with an Institute of Marketing Management (IMM) Roll of Honour in 2001; named one of the ‘100 Most Influential Africans’ by New African Magazine in 2013 and 2015; one of the 100 Most Influential Creative People of African Descent in support of the United Nations ‘International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development’ in 2021 by MIPAD (Most Influential People of African Descent), and ‘100 Most Reputable Africans’ in 2023 by Reputation Poll International. He has been recognized with a Financial Mail AdFocus Lifetime Achievement award in 2021 and the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa Lifetime Achievement award in 2022 for his contributions to branding, communications and the industry. He was recognized as one of the African Titans by the UAE Africa Networking Group in 2022. His work has earned over 75 awards in marketing communications and branding globally, including Loeries, D&AD, Cannes Lions, Institute of Marketing Management, FinWeek AdReview and the REBRAND Hall of Fame.

He has served in most of the significant industry bodies and adjudicated most of the reputable industry awards in Africa and beyond, including as the first African to judge the prestigious Red Dot ( design awards in Germany (2014 – 2020); as the first indigenous African chairman of the Loeries, the premier advertising awards in Africa and the Middle East (1998 – 2002) and AdFocus, the landmark South African marketing and communications awards (2003 – 2004), through which he championed the creative industry’s Africa-focused transformation agenda; as the inaugural vice-chairman of the Brand Council of Southern Africa (2012 – 2015); as a non-executive director at the Marketing Federation of Southern Africa (2002 – 2005), and as a judge for the Switzerland-based St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Awards (2015 – 2017) which recognizes society’s brightest young minds, among others. He has spoken at consequential Africa-focused forums across Africa and globally; co-hosted the inaugural ‘CNBC Africa | Marketing, Media and Money’ show that navigates the billion dollar advertising industry in Africa; written prolifically on leadership, branding and intellectual property, and has been featured widely in African and global media, including CNN, BBC, Sky, FT, CNBC Africa, African Business and New African.

A Fellow of the Institute of Directors, he is a non-executive director on the PSI (Population Services International) board and a Trustee of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. He has held extensive diverse public and private sector directorships, including a 15 years tenure at Mercantile Bank, 10 years at WWF South Africa, 10 years at South African Tourism, including one term as deputy Chairman of the board, 7 years at the Nasdaq listed Cartrack Group, and served on the boards of Brand South Africa, Foodcorp Group and Nike South Africa, and as a member of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) council, among others. A Chartered Marketer (SA), Ikalafeng holds BSc and MBA degrees specializing in marketing from Marquette University in the USA and a Master of Laws (LLM) in Intellectual Property from the University of Turin in Italy in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland, and completed executive education at Wits Business School and Harvard Business School.

Born in Kimberley, South Africa, and based in Johannesburg, South Africa, he has been to over 110 countries worldwide, every country in Africa and every continent in the world from Cape to Cairo and the Arctic to the Antarctic; summitted Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mount Elbrus in Russia, the highest mountains in Africa and Europe, respectively, and Mount Sinai in Egypt where God is purported to have given Moses the Ten Commandments; sky-dived in Swakopmund Namibia, where the stark beauty of one of the world’s oldest deserts meets the Atlantic ocean; trekked the 116 km Moshoeshoe walk that retraces the path the great Basotho King Moshoeshoe the 1st walked as he led his people to safety on top of Thaba Bosiu’s natural fortress in the 19th century; travelled to the 509 ft (155 m) below sea level deep Lake Assal in Dijbouti and the 1,414 feet (431 meters) below sea level deep Dead Sea, in Israel, which are respectively the lowest points in Africa and the world; rode the 52 Hour Train ride on the historic single track 1,860 km long TAZARA train between Tanzania and Zambia, also known as the ‘Uhuru Railway’ established in 1976, linking the port of Dar es Salaam in east Tanzania with the town of Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia’s Central Province (2019); jumped the tallest bunjee in the world at Bloukrans Bridge, and took a plunge into the coldest waters on planet in Antarctica.
Ikalafeng is a member of the American Marketing Association, the Marketing Association of South Africa and Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa, and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

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