Happy Ntshingila obtained a BA Communications degree in 1983 at the University of Fort Hare with majors in English and communication (advertising and journalism). In 1984, he joined the Unilever Group as a sales representative and later as marketing assistant in the Rama Margarine brand office. In 1985 he became the editor of IBM SA News, later promoted to media liaison officer, where he handled media issues affecting IBM, particularly on the disinvestment front and finally left as a communication specialist. In early 1987 he joined Tiger Oats as public relations manager for King Korn before joining Ogilvy & Mather as an account manager. There he worked on Joko tea, Kenna coffee, Royco, Mrs Ball's Chutney, Tastic Rice and Steers. In 1991 he was one of the co-founders of HerdBuoys Advertising, the first black-owned agency in the country.