Gail Curtis began her career in strategic account leadership in the trenches of SA’s top three agencies during the 80s – Hunt Lascaris, Ogilvy & Mather and the Interpublic Group/Lintas – and was first appointed as a board director at the age of only 26 as testament to her exceptional business acumen and negotiation skills.
Indicative of her drive and determination, while at Hunt Lascaris, Gail took the initial seeds of a unique concept, found backing for it and launched the successful FMC Division, pioneering the concept of returning creativity to retail clients.
In 1993 Gail decided there had to be a better way to do business and founded the Old Shanghai Firecracker Factory to promote a unique agency with a dynamic service model. This agency was acquired by Saatchi & Saatchi in 2005 and continues to operate as an independent agency with a unique, innovative structure and blue chip client list.
Gail was the first woman to be awarded the Financial Mail Long term Achievement Award for her innovation of the agency business model in 2002.
Gail was appointed to Saatchi & Saatchi as CEO and regional head of the group’s Africa Network in October 2005, and is leading the Reinvention of the Group in SA and Africa. She was appointed to the international (Europe, Middle East and Africa) board in March 2006. In 2007 Gail was named a finalist for Finweek Personality of the Year.
Unanimously voted onto the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) board in 2006, Gail was named the most powerful woman in the SA advertising industry by Finweek and is a recognized industry leader and keynote speaker at local conferences. She is also profiled in The Who’s Who of South Africa and the Mail & Guardian Book of SA Woman.
Gail has 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.
Gail is a member of the International Businesswomen’s Forum and seizes every opportunity to demonstrate to other women that they need to have confidence in their ability to succeed, be passionate about what they do and never be afraid to have big ideas. In August 2008 Gail was honoured by the International Woman’s Forum of South Africa for growing the South African operations of Saatchi & Saatchi to a level where it is one of only eight Lighthouse Agencies in the world, effectively putting it on par with similar operations in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Copenhagen and Dubai and won CEO’s Magazine’s “South African leading woman in Business and Government in the Telecommunications, Media ,TV, Radio and Press Sector.