Author Archives: Robyn Farah

Women in Tech Africa Summit

Recently, hundreds of women involved in technology came from all over Africa for the Women in Tech Africa Summit.

Attendees of this unique event immersed themselves in specialist lead talks, paneled discussions, and action-oriented workshops, all centered around female empowerment and technological innovation.

Haidi Noassair at the Women in Tech Africa Summit 2019

Setting the stage was Haidi Nossair, Marketing director at Dell Technologies for Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

Haidi Nossair did not study technology – she graduated in languages and fell into the tech world by chance. She spoke about her journey as a woman rising to the top echelons at Dell Technologies saying:

“You really have two options in life. You choose where you are going or, if you land somewhere, you choose what will happen”.

Haidi Nossair discussed ways to develop your talent, build a network, let others know what you want and the importance of being a role model even when you think no one is looking.

“Speak about what you’re good at. Promote your talents and your brand. Hard work isn’t always appreciated – perception counts as well.”

Nossair also touched on the economic imperative to bring women into higher paid roles across industry stating: “Diversity is not nice to have. It’s a business imperative,” adding that if by 2030 women had equal levels of employment as those of men, the global economy could gain $5.3 trillion.

Mavis Ampah, CEO of Stinsad Consult and previously Lead ICT Policy Specialist for The World Bank shared an astonishingly good talk titled:

‘Upskilling fast to identify your path to seniority – 5 career lessons from a badass’.

She introduced herself and laughed on stage while she said that someone else had titled her talk and now she had to talk about being a “badass” to which she quipped nonchalantly “whatever that means”.

Mavis Ampah is so impressive whilst being so casual and down to earth that I was immediately awestruck.

Mavis Ampah spoke at the Women in Tech Africa Summit 2019

Photo credit: (Stanford Africa Business Forum, YouTube)

Mavis Ampah has worked for The World Bank, transformed the telecommunications industry in Ghana and even had a hand in the project for laying the undersea cables that carry the internet.

Imparted wisdom included advising the audience to work on small projects with quick turnaround times stating that “the right visibility can be critical to getting a promotion”.

Other lessons included finding projects that expose you to the boss, the importance of learning to prepare great presentations and to state your issues confidently.

She encouraged attendees by saying:

“Say no with justification – you’ll gain respect. Ask for help with justification – you’ll be appreciated.”

Another valuable topic Ampah touched on is to claim and document your success, she then went on to discuss the value of having a mentor for motivation, training and guidance.

Mavis Ampah reminded us to embrace failure with dignity, explaining that failure should be seen as a path to gain resilience and that we need to adapt, learn and draw lessons from our experiences.

Her closing note was to be brave, telling the audience that “the best opportunities come when you demonstrate courage”.

Exceptional women from all over Africa spoke and attended

The event was hosted at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town, South Africa on the 18th and 19th of March 2019.

By far the most impressive aspect of the Women in Tech Africa summit was the exhaustive list of exceptional female leaders from all over Africa who spoke.

The panels and speakers included a range of executives with roles such as VP of engineering, CTO, CEO, Strategic Growth Director, Chief information officer, Head of Global Business Services and more.

Topics ranged from cloud optimisation and getting into data science to practical advice such as how to present technology principles to a non-technical audience.

Speakers at Women in Tech Africa Summit

 

Getting exposure to tech giants

There were two tracks within the conference: one track of workshops and a ’speakers corner’ venue to meet the speakers, integrating attendees, speakers and sponsors to discuss career opportunities and field questions.

What do the best tech companies in the world do about diversity?

The major themes of the event were around diversity and inclusion, addressing the digital divide, skills development and using tech to drive economic development.

We know that addressing gender inequality is crucial and must not stop. Women are increasingly a bigger part of the workforce, but there are still barriers preventing them from assuming higher management roles.

The Women in Tech Africa summit was an opportunity to hear how tech companies engage in social upliftment and addressing these concerns.

Through Tricia Smyth, EMEA Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Dell and Vice President of Client Solutions David Brooke’s workshop on diversity – I learned of several strategies employed by Dell.

One such program was called Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) which helps men understand unconscious bias, insider/outsider dynamics and gender role conditioning.

Their focus includes flexible hours, education, mentorship and a promotion pipeline that puts women forward. They hold management accountable, saying that this action must start with a definite stance and plan from management. Dell also has a ‘Re-entry’ program which brings women back into the workforce after a career break.

David Brooke, Dell

David Brooke – VP Client Solutions Group (META) @ Dell Technologies giving a workshop on Diversity and Inclusion

Interview with Haidi Nossair

When given an opportunity to interview Haidi Nossair for this article, we spoke about the challenges of diversity in tech and she stated that

“The key challenge is unconscious bias.”

Nossair explained further saying “there is a common perception that certain technology jobs are too difficult for women or because those women look after families that they will not have the time or commitment to cover certain technology roles.”

Going on to detail how bias extends into hiring practices she said “The technology industry is historically led by men, the number of men in the workforce are quite a bit higher than the women in the workforce and then when people are hiring they people nominate and recommend people they know – but they don’t know women.”

Nossair stated “Men need to have more visibility of women in the industry” and stressed that both sides need to engage adding that “Women need to make themselves more visible and to promote their work and their skill set.”

Speculating about causes of women holding themselves back she mentioned: “Either we are not making ourselves visible or we are not promoting the great work we are doing or we are not raising our hands to go after the jobs we want because we don’t feel ready.”

When aiming to satisfy the need for technical skills in the industry Nossair said “I hear a lot that we don’t find the skill sets in the market but that’s the pressure that is placed on the talent acquisition, to actually go out and find those skills to help the organisation and hiring managers make the decisions and not use that as an excuse.”

Her closing remarks were related to her enthusiasm for an IoT agriculture venture and the impact of technology on business use cases saying

“The potential is immense, I am more excited about technology than ever before”.

The women in tech Africa summit was an excellent forum to discuss such issues 

The first day of the event closed with an opportunity to network and share a drink with new friends and other attendees.

The second day closed with a heartfelt keynote from Asha Patel, Head of Marketing at Google South Africa.

Patel tied in many relevant themes and shared her perspective on the challenges of growing up as a woman of colour in South Africa and being a mother whilst being career driven.

Hearing stories like hers is transformational for the Women in Tech community throughout Africa. Inspiration and role models are needed by all of us to have a greater vision for our future.

Asha Patel, Head of Marketing at Google South Africa

Asha Patel, Head of Marketing at Google South Africa

A huge thank you to the organisers – Maddox Events – and to all the attendees and speakers who made it so wonderful. Thanks to Haidi Nossair who kindly gave her time to be interviewed for this Women in Tech ZA article.

Written by Whitney Tennant, 8th April 2019

Whitney Tennant is Engineering Manager at VIPERdev – a software development startup based in Hamburg, Germany. She works remotely, loves tech, art, raspberries and playing soccer. You can find her on the internet with the handle @whits_ftw

Female Role Model of the Year donates R200k of web services to Women in Tech South Africa!

Yesterday, Women in Tech South Africa, received wonderful news that Lynette Hundermark of Useful and Beautiful decided to gift us web services to the value of R150 000 from Kaskade.Cloud, as well as adding an additional R50K of UX from her own company.

Hundermark recently won the Southern Africa Startup Awards‘ South African Female Role Model of the Year as well as the South Africa People’s Choice Award. Her prize was website design, hosting and managed services for 12 months to the value of R150 000 by Kaskade.Cloud, which Hundermark decided to donate to Women in Tech South Africa.

We want to thank you personally Lynette, as not only will this make a huge difference to our online presence, but it will have a HUGE impact on creating exposure for females in STEM across our country including our current community, future members and future partners/sponsors.

We have big plans for the website, but if you have any suggests please do contact us here.

About Lynette Hundermark

An established industry expert in the digital and mobile space in Africa, Lynette is recognised as one of the top 30 most influential women in SA digital marketing, a Regional Business Woman of the Year 2018 Finalist (run by the Business Women’s Association of SA) , 2018 Female Role Model in Tech National Winner (SA) and 2018 People’s Choice Winner Regional Winner in Southern Africa (Southern African Startup Awards). She has also been recognised by Fast Company in 2018 as one of the most creative people in business. In previous years she has also been a winner of numerous app development awards both locally and internationally.

With over 20 years of experience in the tech, digital marketing and mobile solutions space, Lynette co-founded specialist mobile solutions consultancy Useful & Beautiful and has a passion for creating great customer experience that harness the power of mobile and digital to help businesses achieve their omnichannel goals.

Previous experiences include launching innovative & award-winning solutions for the initial versions of Ster-Kinekor, Bidorbuy, Old-Mutual, Sanlam, Hollard, News24, and General Electric apps. She also led mobile innovation units at Naspers for their eCommerce businesses which included Kalahari.com, 36Style and Media24 while starting off her career as an enterprise developer analyst in the UK with clients that included HSBC, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, G4s and Tesco.

Lynette is a sought-after tech speaker, and has spoken regularly at a variety of local and international tech conferences and is frequently quoted in publications throughout Africa. She also served on the judging panel for the EduTech Africa, AfricaCom and World Retail awards, West Africa Mobile Awards and Mobile Marketing Association. She also serves on various advisory boards globally.


About Useful and Beautiful

Useful & Beautiful is a fast-growing mobile solutions consultancy, with a specialist focus on user experience and design, mobile technology and product development. Service offerings encompass mobile strategy, design and development with the aim of supporting business goals with the unique qualities that mobile has to offer. Built on 20 years of experience in the mobile and digital space, Useful & Beautiful is passionate about leveraging the latest mobile technology solutions to map out intuitive and seamless user experiences that drive sustainable business value and results. For more info, visit www.usefulandbeautiful.co.za

Woman in Tech of the Month: Lisa Nokulunga Bhembe

Name: Ms Lisa Nokulunga Bhembe

Designation: Business Development Director

Company: Zeal Point (Pty) Ltd

What do you do every day?
Business development. Basically getting clients for the business and maintaining relations with our current clients. I also motivate my staff to aspire to be more and do more.

How did you get into the tech space?
I have always been a very inquisitive and a goal-driven person I was always reading and seeing posts about women in male-dominated sectors and I thought to myself, wow. I could relate to that as I grew up with 2 elder brothers. I always had to fight to put my own ideas through, being told that I cannot do certain things because they were known to be done by men. What a life, right! I was inspired by reading the posts of these women who were making a change in different sectors. I decided to start my own company in the ICT Industry that will design, plan, develop and maintain fibre infrastructure.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Be bold, Be kind but above all, be…

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?
My advice to women who are passionate about tech would be, do it! They might hate you for it, it won’t be easy but its all worth it. Take that course, Start that company, Be the Legacy!!

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?
My mother, who has always been there for me. Who understood and believed in me before everyone else did plus working towards closing a deal each and everyday gets me excited.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be the woman that young girls can look up to and say, if she did it I surely can.

Twitter handle: @LisaBhembe
LinkedIn: Lisa Nokulunga Bhembe

Woman in Tech of the Month: Maureen Grosvenor

Name: Maureen Grosvenor
Designation: Director – Head of Custom Applications
Company: APPSolve (Pty) Ltd

What do you do every day? Problem solving and business development. I look for opportunities in industries where I can use tech to help solve their problems and stream line the business.

How did you get into the tech space? The entrepreneurial and technology bug bit me at an early age. In 1986, when I was 16, my father bought one of the first home personal computers on the market and I took the opportunity to learn the software languages available at the time. I loved the idea getting to know and understand new innovations and being ahead of the pack. Plus I have always suffered from FOMO (fear of missing out). While still attending school, I started developing custom applications for friends and family and the rest is history. Programming came easy to me and my life since then has emulated the same problem-solving logic that computers run on.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? You teach people how to treat you

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? It is no longer a prerequisite to have a computer science degree to get into the ICT sector. The industry is so dynamic that the relevant diploma with the right attitude and appetite will get you into this job sector. We need more innovative new ideas and skills in South Africa. There is a plethora of jobs that did not exist 10 years ago, and we can just contemplate the endless possibilities of how the world will change over the next 10 years. While fields such as cyber security, social media and mobile development continue to grow, untapped industries such as Blockchain and AI are emerging and expanding. The future is limitless. Make your destiny part of that expansion.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Farmers Markets, Innovation, the next great idea and inspiring young South Africans to reach for the stars
Who do you want to be when you grow up? A chef in Italy. ICT is lucrative and mentally challenging, food, however, is where my heart is

FaceBook : https://www.facebook.com/1264556650
LinkedIn : linkedin.com/in/maureen-grosvenor-3a207915
Twitter : @maureengrosven2

Women in Tech Intro to Python Workshop

Women in Tech ZA along with PyConZA brings you “Python for Everyone”, a beginners Python workshop.

If you haven’t programmed before, or are new to programming, this hands-on workshop will teach you the fundamental concepts of computer programming, and get you started with using Python to solve problems, automate work, and bring your ideas to life.

Everyone is welcome!

Requirements: A laptop computer with Linux, macOS, or Windows installed, and administrative privileges to install Python. Previous programming experience is not required.

Book your place here now!

Woman in Tech of the Week: Ruanne Lloyd

Woman in Tech of the Week: Ruanne Lloyd

Name: Ruanne Lloyd

Designation: Recently retrenched – Chief Information Officer.

What do you do every day?

A large part of my job is coaching and mentoring. I do believe that this is very important and women can do this job well, as we are natural nurturers. Ensuring the engine is running smoothly, and the correct processes are in place, creates the environment for both creativity and innovation.

I ensure the different teams communicate well with each other and support each other. Project managers, business analysts, developers, designers, testers and support staff are all part of the same team, and communication between them is key. I put a lot of emphasis on team work.

Every morning we do stand-ups for all the projects. This gives the whole team a clear direction on what they need to prioritise for the day. It is important then to let them get on with the job and not to allocate new tasks during the day.

I will then answer emails, have meetings with clients, and if necessary help with small tasks if required.

All critical tasks will be managed throughout the day, getting regular feedbacks so as to ensure the client can be updated.

I dedicate Wednesday afternoons to technology meetings where everyone can participate and come up with new ideas.

Friday afternoons are for training sessions or sometimes the sharing of motivational videos.

Exco meetings are held weekly where as a director I will participate in the strategic planning of the company.

How did you get into the tech space?

After matric, I knew that I would go to university. I really wanted to become a physiotherapist, but failed to get in. I decided to do Computer Science, as I knew I did enjoy programming. I had been taught by close friends to program in Pascal. I did Physics I, as a backup plan. After getting a first in my first year, I knew then, this is what I wanted to do. I eventually majored in Computer Science and Computational and Applied Mathematics. I had obtained a bursary, so I started working for the company, but continued to complete my Honours through UNISA part-time.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

To believe in myself and to have faith. It was my first job, and I was very shy, but I was keen and motivated to learn. During the first six years we had implemented an ERP system and were very busy with many other internal development projects. At the age of 27, my mentor and I.T Manager resigned to immigrate to America. He recommended me to take over his position. I was completely surprised, and also knew I was the youngest person in the team. I took the position, even though I did not feel I was capable at that time.  That leap of faith grew my confidence exponentially. My mom always said to me that there is no such word as can’t.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?

This is a very exciting space to be in, technology is changing the world. There are so many options to choose from, front-end / back-end development, security, data analytics, artificial intelligence etc. Most people would think you would have to be a very logical person to enter the technical sector, but this is not true, it also requires a very creative mind.  The best results always come from those who are allowed to tap into their creative side.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?

I will always ask myself, what difference can I make today? I am blessed because I really enjoy my work and I am a very passionate and driven person, so there is no lack of motivation. 

Management for me, is more about mentoring and motivating individuals to become their best-selves. It’s truly motivating when you see individuals grow before your eyes.

“Managing people is so much about being able to listen.”

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

The great thing about life is that no matter how old we are, we are always growing. I am proud of my achievements so far and becoming a Chief Information Officer.

Over the years I have seen how I.T departments would drive businesses. There has been a shift over the years, and businesses have started to drive technology, especially now that everything is becoming digitalized. Technology can be fun – having all these “toys” to play with, but without a business use case the “toys” hold no value. 

In the last six months I have become involved in a cryptocurrency project to learn more about blockchain. I am also currently learning more about machine learning as I have had many years of experience in working with data. I am hoping in the next few years my career will take me into these fields.

I really want to be the best version of myself, and that is what I will strive to be as I grow older. I want to be a mentor for other people, especially to women entering the technology sector.

Twitter : @ruanne_lloyd

LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/ruanne-lloyd-66161899/

Woman in Tech of the Week: Dominique Sandwith

Woman in Tech of the Week: Dominique Sandwith

Name: Dominique Sandwith
Designation: Co-founder
Company: Yellow Door Collective

What do you do every day?
I manage the day-to-day running of the agency, as well as oversee web development and design projects for our clients. Essentially my job entails making sure that the team feels supported and that all of our clients are getting what they pay for.

How did you get into the tech space?
I have always been tech ‘savvy’ – but I started my love affair with digital marketing just after university, when social media for business started taking off. I think the digital world has opened up so many doors for companies that may never have had the exposure that they can have today. Everyday I see Internet successes such as a small business which started in Stellenbosch and within a few years is selling their products to customers in the US and the UK. These stories excite me about the tech space and how digital marketing can change the way businesses are succeeding today.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Create your own job. So I did.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector?
A lot of my own success just came from good luck and being in the right place at the right time. That being said, I’m a huge believer in fate and know that every decision I make, whether it ends up being the right one or not, has some impact on my future. So I would say it’s important not to dwell on things that don’t work out, rather figure out what you learnt from the situation and move on to the next thing. And more specifically for the tech space: go out and meet people, chat about your work, be involved in your industry – there is no industry where networking is more applicable that in the tech sector, especially in a ‘small town’ like Cape Town.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?
I am motivated by the people I work with who are excited about their jobs and that makes me excited too. It also motivates me to know that I am helping other small – medium businesses to gain success in their market.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be someone that people in my industry think highly of, respect and also understand. I want to employ people and make my little corner of the world a better place to be.

Social Media
@domsandwith
http://yellowdoorcollective.com/blog
https://www.linkedin.com/in/dominiquekotze/

Woman in Tech of the Week: Emma Donovan

Woman in Tech of the Week: Emma Donovan

Name:  Emma Donovan

Designation: Co-founder and new business director

Company: Yellow Door Collective – www.yellowdoorcollective.com

What do you do every day? I develop new products for Yellow Door, meet with potential clients and give strategic input on all our current projects and retainers. Every day brings a new set of challenges and I love that no two days are the same. We have a diverse range of clients that keep us on our toes and give us the opportunity to expand our knowledge, try out new marketing ideas and delve a little deeper into the tech space.

How did you get into the tech space? My Media & Writing degree at UCT only just scratched the surface when it came to exploring the tech space – but it whet my appetite and left me hungry to learn more.

My first job gave me the opportunity to write about a broad range of topics and really delve in to the fast paced and ever-changing online world; however it was the guidance of a few great mentors and partnering with Dominique Sandwith to launch Yellow Door Collective in 2014 that really enabled me to effectively adapt and use my skills in the tech space.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?  Speak with honesty. Think with sincerity. Act with integrity.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Before you dive in to the tech sector (or any industry for that matter) my advice is to network, research and get as much work experience as possible. Job shadowing and short internships will give you a good sense of what you’re in for – and will help you make an informed career choice. Work experience is also great on your CV and is likely to help you get a foot in the door once you’ve hand picked the companies you’d really like to work for.

Find out what you’re really passionate about, and then do that.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?  Having the opportunity to lead a balanced life and add value in different ways – mentoring our team, creating strategies for clients, and enjoying time with the people that matter most.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A successful entrepreneur that still appreciates the small things in life.

Social Media