Category Archives: CEO

Brittany Hawkins


Name:
Brittany Hawkins

Brittany Hawkins

Brittany Hawkins

Designation: Chief Experience Officer (CEO)

Company: Explore Sideways

What do you do every day? As the CEO of a startup I wear many hats. At the end of the day, I do whatever it takes to get our company and our team to the next stage in growth.

How did you get into the tech space? I lived and worked in Silicon Valley for 7 years, which sparked my endless fascination and adoration for technology. The frenzied tech space is the perfect place for people like myself that don’t see problems, but rather, potential solutions. It’s when technology and imagination collide that I’ve seen the most incredible things happen.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Don’t be afraid to fail. Technology is wildly mutable and faster paced than any field in history – all you can do is embrace the insecurity and learn as much as you can along the way.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Approach each day as a new opportunity to learn. If you focus on deriving enjoyment from the process, rather than the outcome, you’ll be both successful and happy.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The opportunity to learn something I didn’t know the day before.

Twitter: @hawkbritt
Web: exploresideways.com
LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/hawkinsbrittany

Darlene Menzies

Darlene Menzies, TDH/SMEasy

Darlene Menzies, TDH/SMEasy

Name: Darlene Menzies

Companies and Designation: The Development House (TDH) – Founder and Chairman, SMEasy Business Software Pty Ltd – Founder and CEO

What do you do every day? Team role – leader and innovator. I run a business that develops simple scalable software solutions that address gaps in the small business market. I enjoy the risk and challenge involved in taking an idea from concept to commercialisation – going from initial ideation and market research to product design, the development of a minimal viable product, market piloting to demonstrate early user traction and then raising venture capital to fund product commercialisation. In terms of my role in the team I am the ideas person, the team leader as well as the product evangelist. I love my job.

How did you get into the tech space? I started work as a bank teller and got involved in the bank’s IT division through my interest in helping test new IT systems that were being implemented in the bank at the time. I was moved to the regional IT division in KZN in the late eighties, there were no ladies in the division at the time. I worked in corporate IT for 15 years before starting my own software development business in 2004.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? If you don’t totally love what you’re doing stop doing it, immediately…then do everything you can to get started doing what you are passionate about. This one decision will change your whole life.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? I encourage them to do it, it’s the future, the opportunities are endless. I tell them they have to be prepared to work hard, very hard. If they are starting a tech business I usually tell them to be prepared to make big sacrifices and take massive risks, the rewards down the road will far outweigh the sacrifices in the early years. Also that the key to success and growth is your team. If you focus on building your team, your team will build your business.

For people who ask me if I have any particular advice for women wanting to get in tech – I tell them to forget about gender and just do what they are gifted to do and passionate about, that is what will ensure their success. It’s not about gender, it’s about ability, timing, hard work and a bit of luck!

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? I totally LOVE what I do; I would do it even if I didn’t get paid. I wake up on a Saturday and Monday feeling equally excited about the day ahead.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A mix of Melinda Gates, Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep and Katy Perry… LOL. I think all these ladies are incredible in their own fields! Seriously, I want to be me but with loads more money; I would like to be able to make the kind of social and economic impact that someone like Melinda Gates is making. It’s a privilege to be able to change people’s lives.

LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/darlenemenzies
Twitter: https://twitter.com/darlenemenzies / https://twitter.com/thedevhouse

Annette Muller

Annette Muller, DOTNXT

Annette Muller, DOTNXT

Name: Annette Muller

Designation: Founder & CEO

Company: DOTNXT

What do you do every day? I multi-task, I build, and watch people grow, I innovate.

How did you get into the tech space? I was born in the tech space. 🙂 But my first real entry was working on MTN”s nok nok, its mobile social network back in 2007.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Everyone is just human, if they can do it, you can do it.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? It is the future of all industries, every company will be a technology-driven company so don’t even think twice, just do it.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Being a part of delivering something extraordinary every day and being surrounded by people smarter and wiser than myself!

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I am not planning on every really growing up!

Find me on:
Twitter: @nettyml
Web: http://about.me/annettemuller

Samantha Watt

Name: Samantha Watt

Designation: Owner

Company: Watt Communications PTY Ltd

What do you do every day? I communicate – one way or the other, I talk and talk and talk…with my mouth and my fingers!

How did you get into the tech space? I worked for an engineering company and they invested in an IT brand. I was seconded across to set up the communications department and the IT bug bit. That was in 1995!

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? “When someone shows you who they are, believe them,” – a quote from the late Maya Angelou, shared with me by a great friend and business colleague. This is true in business and in life in general.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Be prepared to stretch yourself, learn how to move fast, do 10 things at once, while giving 120%.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The school bell 😉 I am a single Mom of two amazing young girls and making a fabulous life for them is truly what motivates me.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Content (and no, not what you think!) In today’s world we tend to achieve and over-achieve, never knowing when or what is good enough. I want to learn to recognise when I have given enough and can kick back, relax and smile, knowing it’s enough.

Find me on:
Twitter: @wattisup
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/pub/samantha-watt/1/b40/245/

Kirsty Sharman

Kirsty Sharman, Retromedia

Kirsty Sharman, Retromedia

Name: Kirsty Sharman

Designation: CEO at Retromedia, founder of GeeksDoingStuff.com, one of the girls behind @GGDJHB.

What do you do every day? My mom tells people I ‘do stuff’ on the internet and she isn’t far off. On a day to day basis I oversee the paid media accounts across our current portfolio of clients, and in my down time I campaign for new business and keep myself up to date with the latest digital trends.

How did you get into the tech space? Almost three years ago I ran an online campaign that kicked off my career in digital. #WeWantKirsty caught the eye of @MikeSharman (no relation) and the rest is history.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Google it.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? I think the tech sector is one that allows self-learners to thrive. I’ve taught myself most of what I know via YouTube and online forums. If you want to move into the tech or online space your first step is just to get yourself into a position where you’re surrounded by industry people you admire – even if that position isn’t where you want to be right now. Then listen to those industry people. Listen and learn.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Besides my bulldogs? 😉 I’ve been lucky enough to work with some awesome people. I don’t think we’ve ever had a day without laughter in the office. That environment makes it easy to come to work every day.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Lara Croft.

Find me on:
Twitter: @KirstyCarrot
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=45272088&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile
Website: www.retromedia.co.za

Nicole Capper

Nicole Capper, MANGO-OMC

Nicole Capper, MANGO-OMC

Name: Nicole Capper

Designation: MD, Account Director, Owner, CEO, wife and mother of three furbabies

Company: MANGO-OMC

What do you do every day? Public Relations or, more descriptively, communications – online, offline and all the bits and pieces in between.

How did you get into the tech space? Fascination and curiousity. Many years ago, before the digital world was rightfully part of the communications sphere, I was playing with mobile channels, digital PR and meeting the incredible brains behind many of the apps and platforms that are commonplace today.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Don’t be afraid to be experimental. There is no such thing as a mistake – there are just better and worse ways to achieve a goal – and you’ll only know which is which once you try it.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Don’t try to understand everything – try to understand bits of everything and find the people to follow that know a lot about the various topics that interest you. Then read what they write, speak to them, pick up the phone, tweet them, email them, send them a LinkedIn request and you’ll be surprised – most people want to share their knowledge. So don’t be afraid of asking questions – but make sure that you’ve done your research.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The opportunity to use both my brain and creativity daily.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Me.

Find me on:
Twitter: @ncapper
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/nicolecapper
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+NicoleCappe

Elizabeth Gould

Elizabeth Gould, Bloomberg TV Africa/codeX

Elizabeth Gould, Bloomberg TV Africa/codeX

Name: Elizabeth Gould

Designation: Presenter and Tech Correspondent / CEO

Company: Bloomberg TV Africa / codeX

What do you do every day? Tell stories about awesome innovators and entrepreneurs across the continent, and build a startup breeding many more.

How did you get into the tech space? I got the chance to produce a show called Innovators on Bloomberg TV in the US and I’ve been hooked on creating the future ever since.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Ask forgiveness not permission.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? As important as coding is, the business of technology is fundamentally about understanding the behavior of humans other than yourself. Cultivate empathy.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Being around people who create.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A novelist.

Find me on:
Twitter: @lsabeth3
LinkedIn: za.linkedin.com/pub/elizabeth-gould/4/884/576/

Lynette Hundermark

Lynette Hundermark, Useful and Beautiful

Lynette Hundermark, Useful and Beautiful

Name: Lynette Hundermark

Designation: Co-founder, MD and Chief Product Officer

Company: Useful and Beautiful

What do you do every day? I am currently building up my start-up business. My daily activities include:

Business development (ensuring I move from startup to the growth phase within the next three months) – I am working toward this by meeting with existing and potential clients to make sure I understand their short-term and long-term business goals in order to identify the best way a mobile solution (be it apps or mobi) can help them meet those needs.

I also monitor the mobile consumer landscape so that I can advise potential clients on the best and most relevant solutions for their business at a strategic level. I work with designers and developers on existing projects so that the project execution is in line with the vision expected by clients. I also manage client expectations as the project unfolds.

As a veteran in the mobile space my job is also to educate my clients about the industry, so I proactively look for ways to improve their business using current technology trends.

How did you get into the tech space? I graduated with a BSc(hons) degree at university majoring in Computer Science. I was offered a bursary by Standard Bank during my third year of studies. On completion of my degree, Standard Bank placed me in their head office as an analyst programmer.

I continued working an as analyst programmer for several years thereafter, both locally and internationally (eight years in the UK) with clients including Citibank, Deutsche Bank and HSBC. I progressed to the level of senior enterprise analyst/developer and on my return to SA in 2010; I was approached by the MIH group to fulfill a new role as mobile product manager which requires a combination of technical, analyst and user experience skills.

My passion for the mobile space ignited during this time and I realised I wanted to focus in this ever-changing space. I have always been a gadget girl and it was a fantastic opportunity to combine both of my passions. Wanting to pursue a strong career in mobile by gaining as much practical experience as possible across a variety of industry sectors, I joined Prezence Digital (at the time, it was the best mobile solutions house in the country), to build and grow their mobile apps division. Earlier this year the holding company of Prezence (Primedia) decided to exclude mobile from their core offerings and shut Prezence down. That was a huge catalyst towards me making the big bold move to start up my own company and continue working in a space that I love.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? My good friend and mentor reminded me of a phrase by the great Mandela when I was torn with the decision of starting my own company or looking for a new job at a corporate: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Don’t look at it as a black and white career. Although IT can be seen to have an “old-fashioned” connotation, new channels such as apps belong in this realm. There are many paths and opportunities so you have to explore and cultivate your career to what you want it to be.

Females in particular seem to think that working in tech means you have to be a geek in the corner coding. While sometimes it may start out that way (I was one of those geeks in the corner for almost eight years), it certainly does not have to stay that way. Tech is wonderful, dynamic and so full of progress. If you are willing to embrace it, there are no limits to what you can achieve.

Find a tech space that inspires you and do the best you can. I strongly believe that women can have a career and a family as long as it is a career that inspires them. It’s really about loving what you do and working hard at it that will always yield results.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?

Nothing beats waking up every morning to do something I really enjoy and getting paid for it. Seeing a product evolve from just a concept on a napkin or a whiteboard to something tangible is the best feeling ever.

I love that tech is so dynamic; it excites me that a new gadget or operating system may be released at any time and I look forward to investigating what cool stuff can be built on it. Also as a gadget girl at heart and working in the tech space, it’s the best of both worlds for me as there is no real division between my personal and professional life. Life does not get any better.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I am growing up really fast in my new role as a business owner using my own money to pay for things along the way. I suppose I would like to be regarded as a successful, well-established business owner, who is able to lead by example to help inspire and motivate people to realise that all it takes is hard-work, determination and a passion to succeed in life.

Find me here:
Twitter: @lynetteanthony @UandBMobile
Web: www.usefulandbeautiful.co.za
Blog: http://www.usefulandbeautiful.co.za/category/blog/
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/lynettehundermark