Category Archives: Digital

Prathna Singh

Name: Prathna Singh Prathna Singh

Designation: Digital Lead – Health & Public Service

Company: Accenture

What do you do every day? Working for a global technology consulting firm, I work with clients in the Health & Public Service domain, to proactively adapt and react to technological change. In an era of technology advancement, I find great fulfilment in reimagining their operations enabling them and their customers to reap the benefits. I love being part of the Health & Public Service space because we do work that matters and work that impacts the wellbeing of citizens. This includes the improvement of service delivery, enabling trust and transparency, increased customer and citizen engagement, optimal cost of operations and innovation through technology. I spend my days working with our Digital teams to craft solutions that help my clients create business value whilst remaining efficient.

As a digital technologist, I have an understanding of the technologies that are disrupting businesses and governments. We live in a world of instant gratification. Organisations and entrepreneurs are quickly innovating to deliver delightful experiences and services to citizens in a convenient and reliable way. So in order to best partner with my clients, it is imperative that I spend my days continuously applying my understanding of digital technologies to their world, providing them with the ability to leapfrog the competition and remain relevant.

I spend my days at Accenture working with an array of people that come from diverse cultures. Having spent 5 years working abroad with Accenture in San Francisco, Singapore, and across various countries in Europe, I have a strong appreciation for cultural intelligence and teaming. I am energized by working with people from all walks of life. I am particularly passionate about encouraging and inspiring our women in digital and take an active role in initiatives that provide the platforms for women to excel in this area.

How did you get into the tech space? I actually won a computer through a maths competition when I was 12 years old. Makes me wonder had I not won a computer if I would have ventured in this field, but I am so glad that I did. Back then, computers were really novel and new and gaining access to one at a young age peaked my interest. I spent many days learning how to use it, playing games, dabbling with e-mail and the internet. This led to my passion for it. I remember visiting a school friend at her home and her elder sister had decided to study in the field. She explained what her job would entail after she completed her studies. I remember it sounding a lot like a doctor for businesses in order to make them perform at their best. I quite liked this version of a doctor – to be able to consult and advise on technology in business.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? It would have to be the advice that my father gave me whilst growing up. I am the second of three girls. In his words when he spoke to us about education and career, ‘there is nothing a boy can do that a girl cannot do, you can do well at anything you want to if you give it your all’. Those words empowered me from a really young age to believe in myself and to embrace my strengths in the areas of mathematics and science. I made decisions to study Computer Science at High school and at University and although I was part of a minority group of women in those classes, I remained positive and confident because of the support and belief that was instilled in me.

If I reflect on some of the milestones I have achieved, I attribute a lot of them to raising my hand to take on a challenging role, to having the bold conversation with my supervisor in order to explore new avenues at work, backing myself through my work outputs and decisions, always respectful and always knowing there was always going to be more to learn. It was the best advice anyone had ever given me. Turns out when you believe in yourself, others do too.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? This is the most exciting time get into the tech sector. With the readiness of such advanced technologies such as predictive analytics, drones, artificial intelligence, robotics, the list goes on… We are in the position of contributing to a crucial moment in history. Whilst the pace of change is superfast, there is a wealth of information out there. There are a growing number of women in tech that are applying their strengths and skills, reaching new heights in their careers. There is a drive by many organisations to drive up the number of women in this space and so if there are any doubts around your ability to build a career in this field, have a chat with myself or other women in this space and indulge in their insights and experiences.

I would say that if you are looking to get into the tech sector, you should remain relevant by reading widely, experiencing the technologies yourself and articulating a point of view. Having a point of view on how on how your technology skills can contribute to solving a problem or creating an opportunity for an organisation or individual will provide you with a voice. It will help you differentiate yourself in a high demand talent market.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? I am a ‘glass half-full’ kind of a woman. I believe that living a fulfilling life sits in your control. How you view your day, how you decide to learn from the challenges, celebrate the successes, how you trust the process of life to work in your favour is key. Positive affirmation and truly believing in what you devote your time to everyday are the special ingredients for my daily motivation. In this way, I can have the awareness of when change is necessary and remain true to my life purpose. This means working for an employer that values you, engaging in work that you want to do well and giving the best of yourself.

This also means finding the balance between work and life. Family and loved ones are an important part of my life, so are my passions for travelling, jazz, interior design and being near the ocean. You are the master of your minutes, take time to self-reflect and choose to live your days being happy and motivated. I also remember not to take life too seriously and to remember to inject laughter and humour into my life. We are not perfect and we should not be too hard on ourselves.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Part of me never wants to grow up, it’s my child-like curiosity of the how the world could be different or reimagined, which is something I really enjoy. Time does roll on though and I think what is really important to me is to grow up being authentic – being true to myself, my values, my potential and my passions. I really enjoy being part of a solution and making a difference in the world through my technology and business skills. More than anything, I want to be one of the reasons that other girls and women in my circle of influence, choose a career or hobby in technology. I think that we bring a different lens to the world as women and it is the cumulative impact that will make the difference. Being able to inspire others to be part of this exciting industry is one of the things I would love to experience as I grow up. I have some great ideas about how to bring together girls and women for this purpose and look forward to bringing those to fruition in the near future.

LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/prathna-singh-2085a81
Twitter: @prathnasingh3

Carla Ralph

Name: Carla Ralph (previous Scholtz)

Carla Ralph, Adobe Systems

Carla Ralph, Adobe Systems

Designation: Digital Media Solutions Consultant

Company: Adobe Systems

What do you do every day? I meet with people offering solutions in the design, web and video industries.

How did you get into the tech space? I was a secretary for 10 years with a boss that liked to do his own presentations, so when I got retrenched I thought the best way to get in the computer industry would be to start from scratch on how to build and then network computers, but I found I liked showing others how to do it so I started teaching creative software and when I looked again it was more than 12 years later.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? “Don’t sweat the small stuff” … Remember everything is just small stuff.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Do it because you love it and because you love to learn new things not because you have to, because to be on the cutting edge you ALWAYS need to be up to date.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? To meet new people, learn new things and talk about things that excite me.

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/carla-ralph/46/6a1/623
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carla.scholtz.94
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarlaRalph

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/

Venisha Nayagar

Venisha Nayagar, Sun International

Venisha Nayagar, Sun International

Name: Venisha Nayagar

Designation: Group Head: Technology Governance, Risk and Security

Company: Sun International

What do you do every day? I assist in the implementation of technology best practices, provide advisory on compliance controls and implement secure channels of working and detecting risk. I started and manage the privacy function for group globally, advising on technologies and processes to enable efficiencies. I work with multiple diverse teams and help ensure operations are risk controlled and secure. It’s a fun sexy industry I work in, so every day is a new adventure!

How did you get into the tech space? I studied Information Systems at university and loved the aspects of technology and cyber security so pursued a postgrad and certifications and started my career in IT Audit. I have loved sniffing risks and providing solutions to situations and have just grown from there… No looking back and I also love being seen as competent player in somewhat male game.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? People are everything! Treat everyone you meet with utter respect and professionalism as you never know who you may end up working with or needing throughout your career – words that have been so true in my profession as the market is so small and relationships are key.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Go for it hard, have a goal and don’t let anything deter you. It’s a fast-paced environment with the most change that can make or break an operation, but it’s a world that forces you to learn, adapt and explore. Keep your femininity and remember that being successful in this industry is about knowing your content and being confident in your ability to multi-task, think outside the box, be creative and having the perfect balance of assertiveness and adaptability.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? My life and all that I still want to do…and knowing the value I bring and fires I put out…its highly motivating!

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Grow up? Sigh why? I love the youth and energy I’m currently exuding and the fun memories that its created, growing up can wait a while more. 🙂

Find me on:
LinkedIn: za.linkedin.com/pub/venisha-nayagar/39/142/893

 

Joana Picq

Joana Picq, Jampp

Joana Picq, Jampp

Name: Joana Picq

Designation: Head of International and Biz Dev, entrepreneur

Company: Jampp

What do you do every day? I try and keep my mornings free to catch up on email and exercise, then have all my calls and meetings in the afternoon. In the best of times, when there are no fires to put out or flights to catch, I’ll have to fit quit a bit in a day: 5 to 8 calls or meetings, email and follow-up with over 40 clients, and synch with our internal virtual teams in LATAM, US and Europe, so I really need high levels of energy. Exercise is a religion to me, and an absolute priority: I take 5 minute for deep breaths (breathing in my tummy) and 45min to an hour for exercise 6 times a week. My travel schedule tends to be a bit manic – I’m only home 3 weeks every 2 months, so I end up running and doing push-ups/squats while I’m on the go, and make sure I find time for surfing, kiting, and mountain biking when I’m back home in Cape Town.

How did you get into the tech space? I was always a maths lover, and ended up studying civil engineering. I always dreamt of an international career so I joined IBM for as an intern at age 22. I gave L’Oréal a quick try in 2004, which made me realise I had no passion for shampoo and should be in tech.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Pick your battles.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?
I’d give them 2 pieces of advice:
1 – Be flexible – technology is the fastest growing and fastest and most ever changing space to be in. Be ready to pivot, change your mind and be adaptable to the change that will constantly be going on around you.
2 – Learn the basics of coding, even if you want to be in sales or marketing. There are various online platforms you can try for free – get your hands dirty and make sure you understand how technology gets built.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? My appetite – I wake up craving berries and yoghurt…

Who do you want to be when you grow up? My true self, not trying in any way to be someone I am not.

Find me on:
Twitter: @jopicq
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/joanapicq

Kelsey Wiens

Kelsey Wiens, Creative Commons

Kelsey Wiens, Creative Commons

Name: Kelsey Wiens

Designation: Public Lead

Company: Creative Commons

What do you do every day? Bang my drum about the importance of open access. I spend most of my time encouraging writers, creatives, researchers, teachers, journalists and businesses to be more open. I write a lot of emails and case studies and I drink a lot of coffee.

How did you get into the tech space? Creative Commons is on the fringe of good technology. It’s a legal license tool that allows digital sharing to be easier, which in turn, allows for knowledge to be shared. As the ‘net grows, it’s a lot of fun helping people think through Open Business Models. Making knowledge easier to share is kinda awesome.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? “Be careful what you learn to do, because once you’ll learn, you’ll do it forever.” The irony is that she was talking about why she never learned to use a computer.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about disruption, it’s meant to be the golden mantra of tech. Is the disruption always better? Critical thinking is essential to good tech so read a lot, all the time (says the librarian).

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? I’m really lucky in my job – at least once a week I am flat-out inspired by people doing amazing things. My passion is to make meaningful introductions. If I can connect two amazing projects or people, I’m more satisfied than if I had done the work myself.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Someone who has the time in a week to read all of the articles saved to her Pocket. (Or a ballerina, do I love a good tutu).

Find me here:
Twitter: bella_velo
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kelsey-wiens/2/511/a42

Cathryn Reece

Cathryn Reece, 24.com

Cathryn Reece, 24.com

Name: Cathryn Reece

Designation: Head of Product Development

Company: 24.com

What do you do every day? I run a small team of unicorns who play at being Product Managers, Product Owners, Business Analysts, Content Strategists, Data Architects and more at 24.com.

We manage websites, mobisites, apps, feeds and editorial workflow on some of South Africa’s largest digital brands: News24, Careers24, Health24, Sport24 and more! We speak geek for editors and English for developers, all while making sure our commercial guys have things to sell!

How did you get into the tech space? I joined News24 in 2006 as an editorial content producer and have over the years worn several hats across the business: Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Editorial Liason with Developers, Product Owner, Product Manager and now Head of Product. I have a Master’s degree in Media from UCT but suspect that all those years mucking around on computers when I was a kid is what really helped me get to where I am.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? See one, do one, teach one! It’s the easiest way to learn a new skill.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Don’t. Get in to whichever sector you feel most passionate about.

Everything will have tech at its centre very soon and we have an opportunity to champion digital thinking everywhere we go right now. I wanted to work in the media and so I did – my job didn’t exist 10 years ago, but I love being able to work at the point where media and technology intersect. It’s your passion and interest which will keep you going on the path of reinvention. That is going to be crucial for us all in the next 50 years.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Practically – the threat of being stuck in traffic! I love the products I work with and am truly humbled by the opportunity I have right now to work at such scale. The geek product manager in me still relishes things like Elections Maps!

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Elon Musk or Tina Fey! But I’d settle for a more serene and competent version of myself.

Find me here:
Twitter: @CathrynR
Google +: https://plus.google.com/105236218107606937041/posts
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=24134002

Helga Pearson

Helga Pearson, Geek Girls SA

Helga Pearson, Geek Girls SA

Name: Helga Pearson

Designation: Marketing Consultant/Content Developer/Social Media Manager

Company: Redbrick Online (Online Business Developer)

What do you do every day? The list of what I DON’T do every day would be much shorter! This is a common occurrence with nearly all tech start-up companies. First employees tend to be generalists. With any new brands that we develop for the online market, I am involved in the initial strategic planning and development as well as the content creation and subsequent marketing.

This year with SnowReport.co.za I have also taken up the role of social media manager, which has been challenging but also really exciting!

In a social capacity I’m also the founder of Geek Girls SA. I just felt there wasn’t any local organisation in South Africa that represented woman who are passionate about all things geeky – tech, sci-fi, fantasy and gaming. My heroes are Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton, individuals who have turned being quirky and different into a movement and thriving community. That’s my vision for Geek Girls SA – let’s build a South African community online and in real life with women who aren’t afraid to be smart and who are proud of their geeky fandoms and hobbies.

How did you get into the tech space? I started my career in advertising at TBWA Hunt Lascaris and took a break for a few years to raise my son, Ethan. I’m actually surprised I didn’t venture into tech and online marketing sooner as I have always been a bit of a nerdy web addict.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? “We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one.” Okay, it’s a Doctor Who quote (I told you I’m a geek) but it’s also brilliant life advice! You only get one chance to live this particular life, so make it the best story ever!

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? We are living in an adventurous time in the digital landscape of South Africa. The horizons are rolling out before us and we get to choose how to shape and create them as we go. Now is the time to plant your flag and start building.

Be an online entrepreneur; come up with a solution to a problem; design an app; work for a digital agency and gain some experience – There are so many avenues currently available to join up with the information super highway right now, just pick one and go for it!

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? I’m a natural enthusiast; I find something to get motivated about in nearly everything. Working for a digital start-up is the best place to be for me because there is something new to tackle or something new to learn all the time.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? The Mother of Dragons… Ha! No wait, I never really want to grow up so that’s a trick question. 🙂

Find me on:
Twitter: @HelgaTheGeek
Website: www.geekgirls.co.za