Chair and CEO, Africa

Robyn de Villiers is the Chair and CEO of Burson-Marsteller responsible for South Africa and the continent. Founded by Robyn as Arcay Communications, the Johannesburg-based company has been engaged in public relations and corporate communications in South Africa and across the continent for over 20 years. She represents Africa on the Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa Leadership Team. In the late 1990s, Robyn integrated specialist financial communications and investor relations into the company’s core service offering and began an internship programme to provide practical experience for final year communications students. This programme has developed significantly to include in-service training for practising communications consultants and workshops to address the communications needs of clients. These are delivered under the Burson-Marsteller Africa Training Academy banner.

One of Robyn’s major achievements was having the foresight, well over 15 years ago, that Africa represented a vast, largely untapped market and a place of great opportunity. As a result, she started developing a network of communications affiliates that could serve clients needs across the continent. Today Burson-Marsteller Africa is a unique network of indigenous, in-country communications consultancies staffed by local people equipped to provide communications services that combine local insights and market-relevant implementation in over 50 African markets.

Over the years Robyn’s experience has included communications strategy development, issues and reputation management, crisis communications, media relations, employee communications, public affairs and investor relations. Key clients have included BHP Billiton, Murray and Roberts, WesBank, Brand South Africa, Vodacom, Shell, ExxonMobil, Westinghouse, Lilly, Life Technologies, Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS), Kenya Airways, Sasol Gas, Vestas, the Bond Exchange of South Africa, Medtronic Africa, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, SABMiller, Nestle East Africa, Safaricom, Barclays Africa and Middle East, Dell and McDonald’s South Africa.

Robyn holds a BA (Languages) degree from the University of Port Elizabeth. She is a Chartered Public Relations Practitioner and holds full membership of both PRISA (the Public Relations Institute of South Africa) and IPRA (the International Public Relations Association). She is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and the Issues Management Council (IMC). Robyn is a member of the Advisory Council of the National Business Initiative (NBI), a voluntary group of leading national and multi-national companies, working together towards sustainable growth and development in South Africa through public private partnerships, practical programmes and policy engagement.