Meet Kwanda Dlamini, a Product Specialist who forms part of the Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars Product Team. Dlamini is responsible for overseeing passenger product cars at Mercedes-Benz, by presenting exciting new products to the South African market.
“I am responsible for engaging and further strengthening the positioning of the new smart car, the Compact Car-range (A-Class, B-Class, CLA and GLA) as well as the large SUVs (GLE-variants, GLS, and G-Class) and the AMG GT sports car,” says Dlamini.
This is clearly not a job for the faint-hearted. Hanging with the boys, Dlamini (26) embraces any challenge tossed her way.
Landing this job was the perfect fusion of two passions. “I’ve always loved cars, fast cars especially, and I was a marketing honours student, so naturally it was the best of both worlds for me,” says Dlamini.
She began at Mercedes-Benz in December 2015, following a stint at Ford South Africa as a brand analyst.
Dlamini says the Mercedes-Benz brand is constantly reinventing itself to stay relevant, and this excites her. “We work quite far ahead,” says Dlamini. “We also have to be trend-focused, so right now, with the focus on eco-mobility, we’re expanding on a line of e-cars and hybrids, bringing the right product to market.”
Taking SA’s current economic situation into consideration, careful attention has to be given to the marketing of new products. Dlamini says her team works hand-in-hand with the marketing department for accurate market research, launches and sales. Because Mercedes-Benz SA launches are run in conjunction with the global brand, it’s very important for the local team to adapt accordingly.
Dlamini admits that she’s become the go-to motoring person among her friends and family. “When I was at Ford, everyone drove a Ford, and now that I’m at Mercedes-Benz, everyone is driving one!”
As a young black woman, it’s tough to break into a male-dominated industry, and Dlamini says there is an assumption that a woman in marketing in the motoring industry must be on the sales team.
“It becomes very objective and I often get questioned – directly or indirectly about my role. The numbers are against us, but I do believe that if you have a passion for it, you will enjoy working in the industry. The time has come for the fairer sex to take a stronger stance.”
So, does a product specialist for Mercedes-Benz ever talk about anything other than cars? Rarely! Dlamini admits that it’s close to impossible for her not to answer when some asks about the company’s products. If she’s in company and people know her job title, the questions flow – some arbitrary and some technical. And as a product specialist, she knows a few fast facts by heart – as well as the price of every vehicle – and is ready to sell you a car on the spot, or convert you to a Merc fan.
Dlamini loves that her job constantly challenges her: “Planning ahead can be difficult because of the many factors involved. It’s always exciting, but still challenging.”
She is confident that she will continue to grow along with the Mercedes-Benz brand. “We’re on the move, always working on the next exciting product!”