Author Archives: Robyn Farah

Woman in Tech of the Week: Pamela Mkhize

Woman in Tech of the Week: Pamela Mkhize

Name: Pamela Mkhize

Designation: Head of Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Satellite

Company: Enel Green Power

What do you do every day? I solve problems. Sometimes they are presented to me as technical challenges, other times they are presented as “the usual way of doing things”. I always strive to get results and provide solutions in the most effective and efficient of ways, instead of just “the usual” way. This involves me being able to make tough decisions quickly, and being able to respond to the requirements of the organisation that I serve and lead in, before a need arises. Every day I am both a servant to the business and the functions within it, where I interact with the Heads of other units within my organisation and external stakeholders; I am also a leader in the department and the countries that I am responsible for, which include South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, and Morocco, to name a few.

How did you get into the tech space? I’ve always been passionate about technology. Growing up I was usually categorised as that boring girl who would always be found by herself reading articles related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths), I wouldn’t read them because I didn’t have anything to do, but I would read them because I was passionate about a “connected” future, which at that time was perceived as unreality. This then led me to enrolling for Electrical Engineering, and majored in Telecommunication Systems. For close to 10 years I worked in heavy manufacturing industries, where I did programming, control systems, and automation. During that period, I was seconded to a German technology company, where I contributed to a ZAR 960 million rand project. A few years ago, I was headhunted by Enel Green Power to lead their ICT strategy and operations as they started their operations in South Africa. They were looking for someone who not only had expertise in ICT, but also in Telecommunications, and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). Today, about 15 years into my career, I am more excited about what tech means today, than I was when I started my career; not only is tech becoming more and more relevant in the energy and manufacturing sectors, but in our daily living as well.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Although I understand that I am a product of what many people have contributed in my life, the one advice that stuck with me was one that I received when I had just started my career. My then mentor would say to me: “Always have your finger on the pulse Pam, always”. It took me some time to fully understand what he meant by that. At that time I was working for an organisation where 5 minutes of downtime on a machine meant a loss of millions of rands to the organization; I learnt at that time to always think of “the worst thing that could happen” and solve that before it happens. That is what he meant by having “my finger on the pulse – before the pulse stops”, this is how I translated it. He, unfortunately for me, immigrated to Canada, but 10 years later, his advice is still applicable, both in my personal life and in my career.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? It is important to first understand how much tech has evolved over the past few decades. Even with a basic understanding of this, one can have insight on what possibilities exist in tech, and what further developments can still exist. With such developments, more and more challenges are arising. For example, with such large amounts of data in the form of information, the challenge is – How do we store this data? How do we protect it? How do we transfer it? How do we replicate it? How do we make it easily accessible, without jeopardising it and the people who own it? These are the problems that exist now, and we have not yet found the best solution that will attend to these challenges. For a person who does not just want to get into the sector, but who also wants to succeed in it, they need to be thinking about the solutions to the problems that exist in the tech sector at this point and in the near future, and they should be equipping themselves to be ready to resolve them. I am certain that the tech sector needs plenty of problem solvers who are willing to dedicate themselves to doing what others are not willing to do – to think as though they are already in the future.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? My eagerness to make a difference in the world motivates me to get out of bed each morning. For me, each day as an opportunity to make a difference, whether in the organisation that I lead in, or in someone’s life. If I were not to get out of bed, it would mean that I have just deprived the world an opportunity to get the best of me. Seeing the results of what I do consistently each day, motivates me to keep getting out of bed every day.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be Pamela Mkhize who is able to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, while having and maintaining the humility of my inexperienced self, as I continue learning.

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pam-mkhize-57b79ab

Woman in Tech of the Week: Avashna Ramnarain

Avashna Ramnarain

Avashna Ramnarain

Woman in Tech of the Week: Avashna Ramnarain

Name: Avashna Ramnarain

Designation: Personal Systems Marketing Manager

Company: HP Africa

What do you do every day? I oversee the implementation of HP’s Marketing and Brand strategy – including developing the marketing strategy for new and existing HP laptops, PCs and Workstation products, management of specific campaigns, events, digital marketing, PR and Advertising.

How did you get into the tech space? My career development moved me to Johannesburg about 13 years ago where I began working as a Business Development Manager in an IT specialist private education solutions provider. With my tertiary studies focused on Media, Communications and Computer Management I then then joined HP in 2007 as a Personal Systems Marcoms Specialist.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Life is too short not to take risks.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Technology continues to evolve and keeping pace with current technology trends can be a challenge. You must start small and stay engaged. It’s important to continuously build your network, join the tech conversations on social media and ultimately be confident but humble.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? You can succeed at almost anything for which you have unlimited enthusiasm and passion for. Passion is what drives me every day.  I do what I love and love what I do. My blood is blue – HP Blue.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Wonder Woman

Twitter: @avashnar

LinkedInhttps://za.linkedin.com/in/avashna-ramnarain-28695710

Woman in Tech of the Week: Christina Burger

Woman in Tech of the Week: Christina Burger

Name: Christina Burger

Designation: Senior Software Engineer

Company: Derivco

What do you do every day? I’m currently working in a team at Derivco that focuses on tools and frameworks that support our game development studios, so they can work as effectively as possible. I have a love-hate relationship with JavaScript and front-end web development. I also enjoy dabbling with other languages and experimenting with new technologies. The best part of my day is if I can either learn something new or teach someone else something new. We have a great working environment, where we work in cross functional teams with experts in different fields such as art, music and testing.

How did you get into the tech space? I started playing games with my brother when I was young and really enjoyed it. What interested me most was how the games were made, so I knew I wanted to become a game developer. My family encouraged me to pursue any career I wanted. During my studies, I often felt I would never become a “real developer”. However, as I started working my confidence grew, and I realised I have a passion for software engineering. Now I can’t imagine working in any other industry.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? You do you! There is no one else who can ever be you as well as you can, and you will never do well if you try to be someone else. Try to accept the little things that irritate you about yourself. Find something that you enjoy and do well, and then do that thing until you don’t enjoy it anymore. Remember to add a healthy dose of new things and new experiences. The person who cares most about your happiness and success is you. Don’t focus on what others are doing, and try to measure yourself against your own goals and dreams.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Stop trying to be perfect, and start being brave. Go out and apply for the job you really want, or ask someone to be your mentor, or sign up for a course. Remember that imposter syndrome is a real thing. When you assume everyone knows more than you do, you don’t realise that they probably assume the same about you.  Always be willing to learn and admit when you don’t know something. That’s the only way to get better at anything you do.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Coffee! And working with colleagues who’ve turned into friends.  But also coffee.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Is crazy cat lady not a good goal to aim for? My team has started calling me “Auntie Bob” in reference to “Uncle Bob”, so I suppose my professional idol is Robert C. Martin. But there are so many people I can learn from every day. I would be happy if I could continue working in software development and help build a diverse and inclusive community in technology.

Twitter: @pypmannetjies

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christienkroeze/

How to increase women in tech

How to increase women in tech

Women are underrepresented not only in tech leadership and professional positions but also in most online forums. Here are six ways to raise awareness of opportunities in the tech sector and grow female engagement with online services, forums and tech jobs.

Education

Girls have frequently been steered away from STEM subjects and towards artistic, literary and administrative-type education. Increasing access to tech education early and throughout girls’ education, as well as encouraging them in that path, is a good first step. Outside the classroom, hackathons, boot camps, and workshops offer accessible, fun and social learning environments.

Visibility

Technology companies can market themselves directly to women as potential employees and customers. Women outnumber men on most social media, and are more highly engaged. Companies can raise the visibility of jobs or products on social media, even targeting content to women, either by design or through paid advertising targeting. Video maker software from Biteable can be used to create attractive and appealing multimedia content and take advantage of the algorithmic benefit of video on social channels such as Facebook.

Rewards

Tech sector jobs tend to offer better compensation, benefits and perks than other professional roles. Highlight the rewards when targeting job ads to women, and review your compensation, benefits and perks for gender equality. Consider whether benefits or perks are unevenly distributed by gender and adjust if necessary. Women, like men, trade their skills for rewards that meet their needs or appeal to them. Find the right reward, and you’ll increase the female to male employee ratio.

Flexibility

Not all women are mothers or caregivers, or will ever experience those demands on their time, but there is a statistical preference for flexibility at work in both hours and location. This fits with a wider employee preference for flexibility and more reasonable work hours with less overtime. Nevertheless, offering remote work, less than full-time hours, the ability to work a flexible schedule, and making it clear that constant overtime is neither required nor expected can make tech jobs more attractive to women, as well as to men.

Network

Relationships and mentorship help women find jobs in the tech sector and grow in their careers. Progress is being made, with formal incubators, professional speed dating, boot camps, clubs and academies with built-in chances to connect, and professional organisations to foster support among women professionals in tech. Companies can get involved by sponsoring these organisations, and by encouraging and supporting staff to get involved in networking and mentorship opportunities.

Purpose

Reframe your business in terms of what problems you solve, who you help, and what your mission is. Women, and a growing contingent of men, are motivated by work that will be appealing, challenging and meaningful. Identify your core values and purpose, and use storytelling in advertising, job postings and social media to communicate these. Video is an ideal format for capturing an inspiring story and making an emotional argument.

We can grow the proportion of women in tech through a multidimensional approach that increases and improves access to education, networking and mentorship, and reframing career opportunities to meet the needs of a wider pool of candidates.

Author: Sophie Irons

Woman in Tech of the Week: Pebble Hlubi

Woman in Tech of the Week: Pebble Hlubi

Name: Pebble Hlubi

Designation: Managing Director

Company: Kaleidocode Pivot

What do you do every day? Mainly project and operational management

How did you get into the tech space? By pure chance, literally. It was a lucky breakthrough.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Don’t quit.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? It only seems impossible from a distance.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The urge to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? An employment creator for Graduates/Empowerment Agent

Twitter @BeeHlubi @kcpivot

LinkedIn profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/pebble-thabile-hlubi-0a157997/

Woman in Tech of the Week: Kimi Beyl

Woman in Tech of the Week: Kimi Beyl

Name: Kimi Beyl

Designation: Software Developer

Company: Retro Rabbit

What do you do every day? I develop software as well as mentor junior developers

How did you get into the tech space? I always wanted to make computer games since I was a kid.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Don’t eat 2 Big Mac’s at once

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Don’t give a damn about what others think or say, I am a HUGE geek, and not the brightest bulb that ever lived, but my passion is software, and I love what I do. Don’t think you can’t before you haven’t even tried.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Coffee, definitely the caffeine!

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A Ghoul

Google+: google.com/+kimibeyl

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/kimberleigh-beyl-93bab3b9

Do you know an inspirational women in tech? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global) to get her featured!

Do you want to sponsor Women in Tech ZA (our research, website and events around South Africa)? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global).

Do you want to advertise to the  Women in Tech ZA network? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global).

Woman in Tech of the Week: Michelle Lissoos

Woman in Tech of the Week: Michelle Lissoos

Name: Michelle Lissoos
Designation: Director
Company: Think Ahead / iSchoolAfrica

What do you do every day?
Think Ahead and iSchoolAfrica work closely with schools across South Africa to ensure that our youth are receiving the skills to prepare them to thrive in today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution. We implement full education technology solutions in schools.
So every day I am engaging with school leaders, partner funders , teachers and students . I am also working closely with my team to ensure our solutions meet the needs of our partners.
I spend a lot of time researching global education technology trends and thinking how these are relevant to our local context .

How did you get into the tech space?
My brother was pioneering in South Africa in terms of setting up Learning Channel . In 1999, I joined him to head up Learnthings – a digital curriculum company – creating online learning resources for the Guardian UK.
I realized my passion was not about technology for technology sake but rather the social impact of technology within the education space.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
My late father was my mentor – he showed us by example that you can never stop learning, and only boring people get bored . His advice to us was to be kind, be honest to yourself and others and always keep learning.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?
Ask yourself – What do you what technology to achieve ? what problem do you want to solve ? Be aware and engaged …..always act in the position you want to grow into …

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?
I love what we do . For example we have a progranme – iSchoolAfrica Inclusion programme – empowering children with disabilities with technology – the personal success stories of thid programme inspire me .
I am also driven by the partnerships and relationships that Think Ahead and iSchoolAfrica has afforded me.
And my nieces and nephews keep me grounded ……

Twitter handle: @MichelleLissoos

Do you know an inspirational women in tech? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global) to get her featured!

Do you want to sponsor Women in Tech ZA (our research, website and events around South Africa)? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global).

Do you want to advertise to the  Women in Tech ZA network? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global).

Woman in Tech of the Week: Lindiwe Matlali

Woman in Tech of the Week: Lindiwe Matlali

Name: Lindiwe Matlali

Designation: Chief Executive Officer

Company: Africa Teen Geeks

What do you do every day? I spend an hour or two every day keeping up with tech news on Techcrunch and MIT Tech Review.  Staying informed is very important.  “I also make a list of the top three things I must get done each day.  I also make a list of the three things that must be achieved each month and each week to ensure that we remain focused and committed to our strategic goals.

How did you get into the tech space? I didn’t study technology at University. I got involved in tech because I saw the need to expose children from disadvantaged communities to tech not only as consumers but as creators too. I believe that the difference between a child born in Sandton and a child born in Diepsloot is lack of opportunity not intelligence. My passion is to close the opportunity gap and hopefully inspire the next Mark Shuttleworth or Elon Musk.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? My grandfather told me to never compare my weakness to other people’s strength. Consistency can achieve more than intelligence. I need both to succeed.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? My advice for anybody wanting to get into the tech sector is to just do it. There are may free resources now available for one to learn how to code from Edx, cousera and others. All it takes is commitment and determination. In as little as three months you can be a software engineer. 

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? I am motivated by the impact we have made so far. We have children who before joining ATG had never touched a computer but now are writing a Java code and coding robots. They now have dreams to be the next Mark Shuttleworths. Instead of looking up to celebrities, they now have raised their aspirations and see themselves as the youth who could change the world one day. That for me is what inspires me and help me get up in the morning even when things are tough. Knowing that in my small way, I am making a difference.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I would like to teach one day. I am furthering my studies torwards my dream of becoming a University lecturer within the next 5 years.

Twitter: @LindiweEM

Blog: https://medium.com/@lindimatlali

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindiwematlali/

 

Do you know an inspirational women in tech? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global) to get her featured!

Do you want to sponsor Women in Tech ZA (our research, website and events around South Africa)? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global).

Do you want to advertise to the  Women in Tech ZA network? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global).