Quick chat with Charlene

By admin
27 September 2015

Charlene Rolls has been deputy editor of YOU since October 2013. She's previously worked at Fairlady, NewsNow and the Weeklies division's publishing team.

Let's start with your most embarrassing moment...

My husband and I were on our way to work earlier this month. It was storming in Cape Town, seriously raining quite hard. Traffic was bad, we were on a hill in a busy part of the City Bowl waiting for the traffic light to change when our car shuddered a bit then shut down.

We had no idea what was going on - the car had been serviced a few months ago - so we called a tow truck. Bad traffic because of the rain meant they'd be there only about an hour later so we went to a nearby restaurant to wait. The owner then started quizzing us about what happened and asked if we were sure there was enough petrol in the car.

Yes, we said. The light is on orange but it usually goes red when it's definitely time to refill...

He then suggested we check it out at the workshop RIGHT NEXT DOOR (yes, seriously, we did not know it was there!). The guys there said they'd start with petrol, then check the battery then tow if neither of those were the problem.

You can see where I'm going with this, right? We scrounged around for cash (we hardly ever carry any!) and eventually got R40 petrol from a nearby petrol station and lo and behold, it started. Because we were on a hill the car did not recognise we had any petrol.

What do you love most about working at YOU? I love that no two days are the same because we work with news. Yes, a lot of my day-to-day work is similar but you just never know what the next day will bring and that's exciting. Of course, it can also be quite intimidating but knowing I work with such professionals helps. When you work on a mighty brand like this you need to know you can rely on the people around you to play their part and that's the case here.

I love to cook when I have the time

You mentioned you reeeeeeaaaaallly like food...

I do! I'm a big fan of Mexican and Indian. I love to cook when I have time and for many years I've been baking cookies and making sweets as Christmas gifts for friends and family. My favourite though is when my husband braais (it doesn't happen often because of the crazy wind in Vredehoek where we live).

Any travel plans this year?

I was very fortunate to have been to some amazing places in recent years. My favourite was Barcelona - it's the only other city I'd want to live if I left Cape Town. We've been to Rio de Janeiro, Paris and Rome too but this year we're staying home (the exchange rate is NUTS!) and checking out lovely little places in Cape Town we've wanted to go to.

Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

What do you think of the future of the media industry?

For many years it's been lots of doomsday vibes but I'm excited about the opportunities that digital presents. Years ago I read a book called The Powers That Be by David Halberstam. It was about the rise of new media industries (print, radio and TV) and I was so sad at the time that I was not part of a revolution, a period of intense change in the media landscape. But now here I am right in the thick of things as we try to make sense of this rapidly changing digital landscape.

It's scary but also exciting! Nobody has yet cracked the formula to make as much money in digital as in print - and maybe we never will - but trying to find out what could work, how we could do it and what it could mean for our audiences is incredibly thrilling.

When NewsNow closed down after being around for just a year it was absolutely devastating. But John Relihan, who was CEO of magazines at the time, told me that I'd have to get used to things changing so quickly or I had to get out of the media industry.

I had to learn how to take a sharp left turn, he told me, and that advice has stuck with me ever since. If things happen in our industry we need to all be able to take a sharp left turn -- those are the people and the brands who are going to evolve to still be around decades from now.

Favourite app/website?

I'm a big fan of Google's suite of products (Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Keep, Google Calendar and Google Maps). I'd be utterly lost without those apps.

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