On October 29, INMA and Google News Initiative (GNI) awarded 50 news media professionals around the world with its debut Elevate Scholarship. This series features these impressive media professionals who are shaping our industry.
Although he began at South Africa’s Pretoria News as an intern, it took less than six months for Thivhusiwi (Vhusi) Phadagi to land a staff position. Now, seven years later, he continues to impress colleagues at the Independent Media-owned publication with his graphic design skills and natural leadership abilities.
“Vhusi is the go-to person for print layouts of features, supplements, wall charts, and digital ads, as he is always ready for any task, big or small — even if that means working throughout the evening or weekends,” said Antoinette Gilbert, head of direct retail advertising.
“He has demonstrated a willingness to always go the extra mile.”
Although he comes from a region of South Africa that is known for its developmental challenges, his commitment and dedication to improving himself and beating the odds has paid off for the 32-year-old.
Because he can switch easily from one set of demands to another, he is respected as an effective team player and an indispensable part of the staff. He has been involved in many high-profile projects, including playing a key role in the annual Design an Ad (DAA) competition, which is aimed at encouraging students to pursue advertising careers. Phadagi has been a coordinator, judge, and digital space innovator in that initiative.
“Vhusi has been single-handedly responsible for designing a Web site for DAA, which he manages on a day-to-day basis,” Gilbert said. “He also oversees our social media platform for this project and adeptly steers it into a truly multimedia entity.”
In addition to his work on DAA, Phadagi also managed the creation of the annual Reader’s Choice supplement and the National Matric Results supplements.
In the future, he wants to use his graphic design background as a springboard for creating “impactful computer-based or Web-related communication technology strategies that require creative participation,” he said. He also is interested in creating an interactive user interface and other innovative digital strategies that will help make the news more accessible for readers. At the same time, he wants his innovations to create new revenue streams for his company.
He is committed to lifelong learning. In addition to earning an advance diploma in print production desktop publishing, he has earned a certificate for back-end assistance in financial accounting and a Web design certificate. And, when he isn’t furthering his career or education, the father of two can be found mountain biking or long-distance running.
“Vhusi possesses real talent and has the potential to go far,” Gilbert said. “It has been a real pleasure to witness his success in a very pressurized environment.”