Meet our Managing Director (AKA ALL the Parts of the Gun)
Once upon a time there was a fire cracker with Protea colours for South African drum majorettes, a BA in Visual Communication majoring in Art Direction from Stellenbosch Academy of Design & Photography and min lus to join a traditional agency who jumped the gun, and co-founded a creative agency straight out of varsity.
This dauntless human is Michelle Van Sittert, Managing Director, and Co-Founder of Jumpin’ The Gun. Born and bred in Cape Town, she grew up in Durbanville and went to Kenridge Primary and Fairmont High School. After saving up for university by taking two gap years to work in FOH and hospitality management in Franschhoek, she made her way to the Stellenbosch Academy of Design & Photography.
This is here where she met her business- and life partner Keagan Clack, and encountered the creative force of Caroline Piotrowski and Matthew Grobler, two lecturers who would prove pivotal in shaping her love for the creative industry. After graduating with a sky-high final mark and epic portfolio, she ventured into the world with two Silver Loeries and plenty of other industry accolades*. And this, dear reader, is when the REAL fun began…
These days Michelle is the Managing Director of Jumpin’ The Gun – the person responsible for directing and managing all business operations, including giving strategic guidance and direction to all departments to ensure that the team achieves both the company's and our client's vision, mission, financial objectives, and long-term goals.
She also provides inspiration, motivation, and guidance to team members and clients so that we have clear communication across all channels and efficiency in all elements of our work. In a nutshell, she develops and implements plans and objectives for all departments; oversees and coordinate daily operations; maintains compliance with external regulations and internal policies; as well as assessing and reporting progress to clients and team members.
“Michelle is the barrel, slide stop, rear sight, hammer, safety, grip, magazine, front sight, slide, magazine release and trigger all rolled into one - she is ALL the parts of the proverbial gun that we are all jumping! She is what makes Jumpin' the Gun go,” explains Digital Strategist Zita De Bruyn. “She knows how to do absolutely everything, which is why she is the go-to person who everyone needs to know what's happening and understand how to get the best results. For me, personally, that is why it's so exciting to work with her - you are always learning something. We all have 24 hours in a day, but sometimes I feel like Michelle has 62!”
Of course, things aren’t always moonshine, roses and awe-inspiring engagement results. This is when it comes in handy that Michelle is a big-picture thinker in both strategy and attitude who is able look beyond the immediate issue to bear the over-arching mission in mind.
“On tricky days, I always make a point to remember that it's not just about me. We started something that is now much bigger than just our passion for running a creative agency. JTG has become integral in many people's lives and businesses and if I give up, I haven't just given up on my own goals, I have quit on employees and clients that have afforded me an incredible opportunity that took lot of trust,” says Michelle.
It also helps that she is pretty much fearless. “Michelle is not afraid of anything – she is the OG member of JTG who took the first brave step to get this amazing thing off the ground, and it is in no small part thanks to her continued dedication that we are taking the strides we are today,” says Creative Director Keagan Clack. “It’s that dedication that sets her apart as a boss and a person – dedication to producing quality work, provide our clients with exceptional service, building a team of digital marketing bad-asses and so much more.”
It’s also this fearlessness and yen to go where few brave marketers have ventured before that has led to the establishment of what has become an integral part of the company’s core services. “No one wanted to go near social media marketing - it's now our most popular service. No one wanted to start creating e-commerce stores - it's now a massive part of our business. She sees opportunities where others see hurdles; that’s the magic of Michelle,” Keagan explains.
The fact that she just really likes to work is another thing that makes our MD such a force to be reckoned with. “People always seem confused by the fact that I really like to work, but they seem to forget that my business partner is my best friend and literal creative soulmate. My team is comprised of people I would choose to be friends with outside of work and my clients are easy to work with because it is even easier to respect them. I have learnt more from my colleagues and clients than from any institution or job,” says Michelle.
And then there’s her kindness. “Michelle is very kind, helpful, extremely good at what she does, and filled with knowledge. With a boss like her on my side, I feel like I can take on anything! It also helps that she is super organised, which probably explains why she gets so excited about stationery,” Lead Designer Tara Bakkes quips.
So, what’s next for JTG?
Michelle is currently in the process of expanding the JTG teams as well as reworking and reworking and reworking processes until we are providing the most innovative strategies and marketing initiatives you could ask for in an efficient manner to help our brands achieve their goals.
“My immediate goals right now really all circulate around our current retainer clients. We have managed to align with some incredible brands who all seem to share the same beliefs and ethics as our team, and it has us thinking about whether sustainable businesses or brands focusing on innovation really are our niche, but our skills and interests are too varied to pass up any opportunities we are excited about. “I've never seen JTG as a massive agency. I just don't believe in that way of working anymore. Your clients require any creative or strategist working on their brand to completely understand the ins and outs of their business and passing it through a machine is just not possible, or Michelle-recommended. Our vision has always been a boutique agency that provides all the services of a full-service creative agency but feels like an inhouse team,” she explains.
As such, the has also been hard at work putting together an elite squad of experts who are all multi-skilled proactive individuals who are innovative and efficient with their time and enjoy the freedoms of a flexible work life and an understanding management team
“Michelle is amazingly adept at recognising game. She notices and nurtures talent, and also understands that creatives cannot be managed like ordinary humans. This allows her to toe the fine line between allowing her team to do what they do how they need to do it, and applying just the right amount of pressure to ensure that expectations are met, and timelines are adhered to,” says Senior Copywriter Anna-Bet Stemmet.
If Michelle had to be a shade of pink, she would be hot pink. Because “you love it or hate it but you're definitely not indifferent to it.”
*Other accolades that Michelle totally earned, but is (for some reason) too cringe to ever bring up:
- 7 x Loerie Finalist
- Pendoring Finalist
- AD Focus & Financial Mail Student of the Year 2016 Finalist
- Stellenbosch Academy of Design & Photography Head of Student Council