Odette van der Haar

  • CEO, The Exponential Company and presents Business Beat, South Africa
  • Grand Jury

Odette van der Haar is a business woman and a highly respected leader in the advertising and communications sector of South Africa. Odette is currently the CEO of The Exponential Company and presents Business Beat – a weekly business show on eTV’s The Morning Show. Odette is currently the CEO of The Exponential Company and works extensively in electronic and digital content production, both in front of and behind the camera. She held previous Executive positions at multinational companies, Publicis where she was the Managing Director and J Walter Thompson (JWT) where she held the position of CEO. Prior to joining JWT, she was the CEO of the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) which is the recognised industry body of the advertising and communications profession in South Africa. Odette was at the helm of the ad industry in South Africa for over a decade. Prior to joining the ACA, she was the Portfolio Head at Sentech Ltd where she was responsible for the company’s Advertising, Events and Sponsorships departments. Her extensive business experience was gained locally and abroad as a result of having worked for leading companies such as African Technology Holdings Group of Companies, South African Post Office Limited, Siemens, BP Southern Africa, Mutual & Federal and Rentworks holding senior positions in marketing communications, business development and strategy. Odette holds a degree in marketing with a specialisation in digital marketing as well as a higher diploma in Business Management. She currently serves on the board the Media and Marketing Collection Agency (MAMCA) and the advisory board of Red & Yellow. Previously, Odette served on the boards of the ACA, JWT and its subsidiary company, Mirum, Centre for Communication Impact (CCI) - formerly Johns Hopkins Health and Education in SA which is a US Aid funded organisation to create awareness and address issues pertaining to HIV/Aids in South Africa, the Brand Council of South Africa, the AAA School of Advertising and the MAPPP SETA. Odette is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network African chapter - African Leadership Initiative, she is highly respected as a thought leader in entrepreneurship, general business and the marketing, advertising and communications sector. Her opinion is regularly sought and she is often profiled and quoted in the media. She has been featured on TV as a judge on the highly successful Next Brand Ambassador tv show on SABC 3 and Play Your Part. Odette has also been recognised as an influential woman in business by publications such as the Financial Mail’s Little Black Book (2008/2009 and 2010/2011), The Mail and Guardian’s Book of South African Women (2008) and The Annual (2009/2010) to name a few. She has also been recognised professionally for awards such as: Woman of the Year, The Most Influential Women in Business and Government and The Most Powerful Women in SA Digital Marketing. Vocationally, Odette was a custodian of the “Take a girl child to work” initiative. She is highly involved in various community projects and charities including the building of an HIV/Aids VCT site in Noordgesig adjacent to Soweto, in Johannesburg. Odette currently serves as an active member and contributor to the community in and around St Gabriel’s Anglican Church and she is passionate about teaching Bible study, providing career guidance to youth and doing outreach work during her time off work. Odette was also a zone leader for the Rhema Bible Church home cell network in Weltevreden Park and led a ladies Bible study group at St Gabriel’s. Odette is an advocate for transformation, entrepreneurship and empowering women across all walks of life. She is a wife, a mother to her two sons, a fostered daughter as well as her late sister’s five children. Her life’s motto is “no regrets, only life lessons” and lives her philosophy by always chasing her better self by always striving to a better person than she was the day before and learning from every experience she encounters – good or bad.

Odette van der Haar