Category Archives: sponsored blog

WomeninTech: A question of changing perceptions

EMC systems engineer Jeanette Marutle joined the company in 2010 with no technology experience. A nine-week bootcamp, two years’ of mentoring and training and four years’ on the job and she’s working with the local sales team to provide high-end technology solutions to meet customers’ business needs.

“It’s been an exciting journey,” she says. “I didn’t want to be in tech, tech found me.”

Marutle studied economics, mathematics and computational mathematics and wanted to go into the economics side of it, but ended up in the computational space. “People who meet me now versus six years’ ago can see I’ve changed. I work with customers who’ve been in IT for 20, 30 years, and helping them and convincing them that I can add value to them has given me confidence.”

IT is a constantly changing sector, so you’re always learning, she says. “I’ve gotten to a point where I tell myself that I don’t need to know everything, I need to know enough and I need to know who to ask about the things I don’t know.”

View the full interview with Jeanette Marutle:

Catalysts for change

For women, working in the male-dominated technology sector, it’s important to keep in touch with who you are, and what you, as women, bring to the table. It’s also important to look beyond the immediate deadline, or sales target, or quarter, and take the time to give back to those around you.

Account Manager at EMC Eleanor Masher and Delia Naicker, Senior Project Manager didn’t set out to be heroines, in fact, to their friends and colleagues the sociable pair didn’t seem likely candidates for athletic prowess, at all. Then tragedy struck, and the pair decided to do something exceptional.


Women in tech need to speak out

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Gender diversity is an ongoing challenge for many industries, including ICT. In South Africa, women make up only 23% of the IT workforce. If the sector is going to attract and retain more women, action needs to be taken.

EMC client solutions director Charlene George, says women in the sector need to speak out , share their experiences and show young women and girls, particularly, that there are women in the tech sector and that it offers a wide range of career options.

“We also need to address the stigma that girls don’t enjoy math and that they therefore can’t be good at it,” she says.

Comments EMC channel sales leader Chipo Msimanga, “It starts in the classroom, we need to look at how we teach these subjects – are we keeping children excited and engaged when we’re teaching maths and science? We need to keep it relevant – instead of talking to people about speeds and feeds, talk about technology in a way that’s pertinent to what’s happening today. For example, I used to have to rush home to catch my favourite show at 7pm, now we have PVRs, so I don’t need to do that. That’s IT, and it’s part of our lives.”

Watch the full interview here:

For more information about Diversity & Inclusion in EMC Southern Africa, feel free to contact Sonelia du Preez, Marketing Lead: Africa on email:, or visit:

Technology is not a boy’s club

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Women in technology garner a lot of attention, perhaps because they work in a sector known for its overwhelming male presence. This despite the fact that some of technology’s earliest pioneers were female, such as the inventor of programming, Ada Lovelace, or Hedy Lamarr, the film star and sex icon who also pioneered frequency hopping, used in mobile phones today.

 Technology is behind the curve. Though over half of professional occupations in the United States are held by women, a mere quarter of professional technology jobs can make the same claim. Some argue that women are simply poorly suited for technology, lacking the logic and mathematical savvy to compete against men. A few even assert that women are simply riskier. 

Disproving such generalisations is easy, but the stigma is harder to purge. To Patricia Florissi, VP & Global CTO of Sales at EMC and a technology polymath, this perception is more about a lack of representation: “If more opportunities were given to women, especially at senior levels, then you would be able to see more of a sample of female leadership that would change some of the biases. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: the fewer women you have in leadership, the more biases you create, because you don’t have enough samples to create an accurate image of how women act and how successful they can be.”

Under-representation sabotages opportunities for women, says Florissi. But she doesn’t pin this on a misogynist culture. People think of those they know and consequently offer opportunities to whoever is front of mind. If an organisation is understaffed with women, odds are that women will not be considered as candidates merely due to a lack of visibility.

One could argue that gender should have nothing to do with it, that it is all about the best candidate. This is true, but Florissi warns of a larger danger if diversity is not part of a company’s outlook: “We need to treat women in technology as a real issue, because we’re talking about fifty percent of the population, about digital transformation that is suffering from a deficit in intellectual capital and yet we leave half of the population behind. This is a business imperative. Where you don’t have diversity, you don’t have cognitive diversity, so you are in a position of disadvantage. We can only solve that together.”

 The need for diverse, out-of-the-box thinkers has never been greater. Technology needs women: the problems and opportunities of the world cannot be tackled from just one vantage point. Creating diversity in gender and creed is what helps companies evolve and open new channels. Everyone has a role to play in making this shift happen. As Maya Angelou said: “Nothing will work unless you do.”

For more information about Diversity & Inclusion in EMC Southern Africa, feel free to contact Sonelia du Preez, Marketing Lead: Africa on email:, or visit:

eWallet ftw!

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So WeChat invited WomeninTechZA to try out its WeChat Wallet, and buy some awesome stuff with Stuff magazine (which is running a promo with WeChat and Incredible Connection in its latest issue).

3A1E8C20-0E20-43EF-8C74-53B6232AB40AIt was all rather simple – sign up for WeChat (if you haven’t already), go to your profile, and enable the wallet. This requires you to add in some legal type stuff (like your ID no) and to link a bank card to the system.

Then you just get the latest issue of Stuff, have a browse through the Incredible Connection goodies on offer and scan in the QR code using WeChat Wallet – and voila.

I decided to get a Fitbit because I don’t need a smartphone, or headphones, or any of the other cool gadgets on offer. Once you’ve scanned the code you select the payment method (money in the wallet or bank card), fill in your details for Incredible Connection and your purchase is done.  It took me all of 5 minutes, and now all I have to do is contain all the excited ’til my new toy arrives…

Oh yes, if you buy any of the goodies during the promo, you get cash back too. Nice! Try it out and let us know what you think by tweeting @womenintechza and @wechatza.

Lets Collaborate celebrates five years of small business success

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Lets Collaborate is a SharePoint strategy and user adoption consultancy. It was founded by Veronique Palmer five years ago today and provides specialist services to a carefully selected group of clients.

Lets Collaborate goes into companies that are either implementing Microsoft SharePoint, defines the strategy to manage the platform and then assists them in rolling the platform out, or, more often, gets called in to assist where an existing SharePoint installation is not being used. They are the specialists in turning that around

Veronique Palmer, Lets Collaborate

Veronique Palmer, Lets Collaborate

“While we get people to use SharePoint, what we really do is get people to believe in themselves and to embrace change; that’s what differentiates us,” says founder Veronique Palmer. “It’s not about the technology, it’s about being there for our clients and understanding our audience incredibly well.”

Believing in herself and her skills is what saw Veronique walk out of her high-paying job five years’ ago, with not a lot in the bank, to start Lets Collaborate. Would she do it again? Definitely. Would she recommend other people do it? Not if they can’t afford haphazard cashflow, especially in the first year. It’s easier, she says, if you don’t have family responsibilities, or if you have financial backing; Veronique didn’t have either. Starting your own business is tough, she states, and having a family to support makes the consequences of any failure that much higher. There’s a lot that needs to be considered before you take the plunge, just do your homework first.

Learning to handle mistakes and getting up again to do things better is part of what’s allowed Lets Collaborate to make its first five years. Some of the harder lessons she has learnt, Veronique says, have come from business deals and partnerships gone wrong.

“It’s important to work with people that have the same values, culture and measure of success,” Palmer states, “there’s no right or wrong in those, but makes sure they are compatible or work just becomes an unnecessary war zone.”

She’s also learnt, she says, that the standard three-month period isn’t enough to evaluate an employee. “You can fake it for three months,” she says, “but I’ve found it takes six months to see someone’s true colours.”

It takes some fancy footwork to get the right people on board at the right time, but it’s exceptionally rewarding when you achieve that and build a team that can rely on each other.

Also – determine your niche. “As a small business you cannot be all things to all people, rather focus on one thing and be really good at it.

Partner with businesses that are the right fit for you and your clients to expand your service offering. Diversify later on when you’re stable.

Her number one piece of advice: “Learn when to say no and when to say yes”.

Lets Collaborate is a small business that delivers big results. The company is focusing on building long-term relationships with clients that are the right fit for them. Veronique says the company engages for the long-term, so it’s important that both parties are getting mutual value from the relationship.

Veronique has won five awards in five years, four of them from Microsoft and she’s one of six SharePoint Business Most Valued Professional (MVP) specialists globally.

Happy birthday, Lets Collaborate, here’s to the next five years!


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011 966 8060