• Tashta Bhana is the PR manager for Audi South Africa.
• Bhana joined the Volkswagen Group in 2010 as graduate trainee.
• She has also been recongised by the industry for her achievements.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
"Staying true to yourself should direct everything else in your life," says Tashta Bhana when we asked her how she would describe the path she came along.
Bhana joined Audi a few years ago but has been a part of the Volkswagen Group since 2010. Like many other successful women, she began her career at the bottom - as a graduate trainee in the VW Group's communications division - but soon showed what she was capable of.
And not long after, a gradual climb within the company took flight.
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Tashta Bhana (Supplied by Tashta Bhana)
When she made the move to Audi, she realised her love for the brand wasn't just by association; there is a real passion that unearthed a new motivation. As part of her tenure at the Four Rings, Bhana has experienced many things, including witnessing how a vehicle is built, and being a part of a new vehicle launch.
Bhana says: "Being part of one of the biggest automotive groups in the world has incredible exposure to benchmark projects and experiences. During my career, I have been lucky to witness the intricacies of Audi vehicle production at our headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany.
"That will surely leave a lasting impression on anyone who loves cars and enjoys the science, art and engineering behind how a premium car is built."
2020 Audi A6 40 TDI (Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond)
Bhana is no stranger to working hard and earning her stripes. In 2019, she won the Marketing and Communications Award at the Gumtree Women in Autos Awards. The recognition, she says, is a definite feather in the cap, but she's a team player. She thrives on team achievements and will not hesitate to acknowledge the efforts of the collective.
The conversation quickly shifts to the SABRE (Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement) Awards; an event that celebrates and recognises the best PR (public relations) and social media work across the African continent. This year, Audi won two awards for projects and campaigns that took place last year.
She reflects with pride: "Being the PR manager for Audi entails quite an interesting and diverse mix of activities. I guess that's the best thing about my job. It's quite dynamic and includes a little bit of everything within the marketing and communications mix."
Bhana gleefully says her job is more than just building a local brand story and narrative that's unique to South Africa. It also entails that business objectives are supported and met, and that, through media and its various forms, the Audi brand and its products are kept top of mind.
Life after Covid-19
Bhana has been a part of numerous launches over the years, but her first one in 2017, when Audi launched a new range of RS models, was definitely her favourite.
She recalls how two international Audi Motorsport drivers were a part of the event; which made it so much more special and a personal highlight. While their own identity characterised pre-2020 events, the future from here on out will be markedly different.
But, says Bhana, one has to find the opportunities and new ways of operating in the new normal: "I am looking forward to the new and innovative ways in which we are preparing to launch upcoming Audi vehicles in South Africa. The current times have also accelerated the planning around key digital projects as part of the Audi brand and business, so I am excited to play a role in Audi's digitalisation strategy in the near future."
Bhana is ready for the next leg of her journey in the "new normal", but plans on sticking to the traits that have brought her this far: staying true to herself. This approach, through an intention of authenticity and sincerity, has given her success in both a personal and professional capacity.
"In the process, the personal reward of accomplishment and fulfillment will also be realised and celebrated."