Category Archives: Woman of the Week

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: 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: 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/

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).

Woman in Tech of the Week: Sam Beckbessinger

Woman in Tech of the Week: Sam Beckbessinger

Name: Sam Beckbessinger
Designation: Writer, Money Dork, Entrepreneur
Company: Phantom Design

What do you do every day?
I am trying to build a world where money isn’t a complex, opaque thing, but is something that we all understand and can use to fund our most audacious dreams. I wrote a book about this, called Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup, and I run a company that helps to build apps and tools that make finances easier to deal with. We’ve built everything from smart credit cards to apps that show you where your money is going to cryptocurrency exchanges, and more.

How did you get into the tech space?
In my heart, I’m a writer, which means that I am fascinated by human beings and how we’re making the world. I started out writing about tech, and then realized that it would be more fun to also start making some tech products of my own.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
The stuff that makes you weird is what gives you the power to change the world. Not everyone’s going to like your weirdness, and that’s fine.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?
Tech is about building a new vision of what the future can look like. It’s far too important to leave to only one narrow type of person. Don’t assume you need to have studied computers at university or have been a gamer since you were 5 to have a successful tech career; you just need to pick a project you care about and start making something. We need people with a background in the humanities, in social science, in biology, in business, in ethics… in everything. We need you: come and join us!

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?
My cat sitting on my face and demanding to be fed. But also, my work is really fun, so getting out of bed is easy.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
No idea. Only boring people make long-term career plans.

Twitter: @beckbessinger
Website: http://likeafuckinggrownup.com/
Blog: https://medium.com/@greenhamsam
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sambeckbessinger
FB: https://www.facebook.com/likeagrownup/

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).

Bernelle Verster

Woman in Tech of the Week – Bernelle Verster

Name: Bernelle Verster
Designation: Water Maverick, Shit Stirrer
Company: indiebio
What do you do every day?
Writing, mostly. Sometimes growing things – bacteria, algae, plants, fungi, animals (like flies, worms). I am trying to learn how to play with hardware like Arduino and getting better at data driven visualization to help communicate my work.

I work in beneficiation of diffuse pollution through biology. This includes wastewater treatment, but I’m also moving into urban waterbodies like urban estuaries. I like interfaces, connecting the dots to fill in the gaps. So much of my time is spent translating between what, for example, engineers say and what ecologists say and try to find a way that both can be accommodated. Or, what the public perceives and try to communicate all the trade-offs and complexities. At the moment I am trying to see how to coordinate bottom-up, DIY type behavior with the efficiency and economy of scale that engineers prefer but that comes with environmental trade-offs.

How did you get into the tech space?
I wanted to become a vet, but then fell in love with biochemistry in first year of university and stuck with that. Then I realized the cost of biotech is way too high and needed to learn some tech and engineering to make the biology work better. I’ve sortof just stumbled along with things, there wasn’t ever much direction or specific support.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Do what you can with what you have; and you will always be someone’s dog (in other words, don’t expect to come out ‘on top’ and then all your issues are over. That just doesn’t happen). The advice I never listened to was ‘it’s time you stop dreaming and get a proper job’.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Dream. Big, small, doesn’t matter, but don’t lose sight of reality. Prototype, play, fail fast. Look at what is – the current reality, even if it is uncomfortable. Ask the tough questions, listen to what people say. You don’t have to believe them, but they are coming from somewhere, interrogate what they say. Don’t underestimate the value of incremental change.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?
Frustration. Having a big goal is nice, but really it’s the frustration of ‘if only this small thing can work better!’ Generally I wake up thinking, I’m going to go at it from this angle, maybe that works today. I think the real value I add to society isn’t through my big dreams and passions, but the little itches and irritations I try to smooth out along the way. Connecting people who can help scratch 😉

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
A whole person. Not a whitewashed darling on a pedestal.

Twitter handle @indiebio
Website: indiebio.co.za
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/indiebio/

Continue reading