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After 18 years at the helm, SHERPA’S CEO still sucks the marrow from every day.

What do you enjoy the most about SHERPA?

The SHERPA team and our clients.

Over the years, we’ve had wonderful SHERPA’S and I remember them all with great fondness. Well, most of them.

Many of our clients have been with us for years, which is unusual in the creative sector. And some have become friends. It reflects our quality and suggests that we’re evolving with the times and their changing needs.

What do you get involved in?

Mostly brand strategy – the thrill and fulfilment of positioning a brand for leadership, differentiating them in the market.

The SHERPA team are all experts in their fields, so I seldom interfere in their work, but I do involve myself in all things SHERPA. Graphic Design. Content Marketing. Copywriting. Digital Marketing. But I respect their expertise and judgement.

Our Traffic & Ops Manager works hard and tirelessly to keep me focused, and mostly succeeds!

How do you relax?

I don’t play golf, and I’d rather write a brand strategy or research the latest trends and attitudes than read a book or watch TV, unless the Stormers or Boks are playing. I don’t watch much of Man Utd these days. They’re a classic example of a brand believing in its own publicity and forgetting their core brand values.

I love time on the beach, mostly Blouberg. The icy Atlantic is invigorating. And I listen to music, headphone speaker-blowing stuff.


I battle to concentrate on mundane things. Frankly, I’m very fortunate because my work gives me more pleasure than most things.

You spent some years in the corporate world. How did that equip you for SHERPA?

It was more about how I could add value to clients than SHERPA itself. I planned my corporate career to get hands-on experience in Sales, Business Development, Brand Strategy, Marketing, and Product Development. Our clients get the aggregated benefit of that diverse experience.

My time heading Product Development for a bank’s funding range was my first ‘big’ job, and a very early lesson. I learned that product innovation was not about a moment of blinding inspiration but rather studying about 10 triggers or so. When two or three of these triggers naturally converge, then opportunities for innovation naturally emerge. It is an aha moment.

These seemingly disconnected triggers range from economic to social or attitudinal triggers, among others. Today, social listening augments the process as you can see what’s going through people’s heads in real-time and connect the dots.

Simplistically, I guess that’s how a winning brand strategy is created – connecting most closely with what’s foremost in the minds of certain people.


Gary Hendrickse

SHERPA is a Cape Town based brand strategy, digital marketing and graphic design agency with clients mostly in Gauteng and increasingly, abroad. Established in 2006, SHERPA treasures some of SA’s top brands as valued clients.