Category Archives: Women in Tech

Women in Tech Africa Summit

Recently, hundreds of women involved in technology came from all over Africa for the Women in Tech Africa Summit.

Attendees of this unique event immersed themselves in specialist lead talks, paneled discussions, and action-oriented workshops, all centered around female empowerment and technological innovation.

Haidi Noassair at the Women in Tech Africa Summit 2019

Setting the stage was Haidi Nossair, Marketing director at Dell Technologies for Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

Haidi Nossair did not study technology – she graduated in languages and fell into the tech world by chance. She spoke about her journey as a woman rising to the top echelons at Dell Technologies saying:

“You really have two options in life. You choose where you are going or, if you land somewhere, you choose what will happen”.

Haidi Nossair discussed ways to develop your talent, build a network, let others know what you want and the importance of being a role model even when you think no one is looking.

“Speak about what you’re good at. Promote your talents and your brand. Hard work isn’t always appreciated – perception counts as well.”

Nossair also touched on the economic imperative to bring women into higher paid roles across industry stating: “Diversity is not nice to have. It’s a business imperative,” adding that if by 2030 women had equal levels of employment as those of men, the global economy could gain $5.3 trillion.

Mavis Ampah, CEO of Stinsad Consult and previously Lead ICT Policy Specialist for The World Bank shared an astonishingly good talk titled:

‘Upskilling fast to identify your path to seniority – 5 career lessons from a badass’.

She introduced herself and laughed on stage while she said that someone else had titled her talk and now she had to talk about being a “badass” to which she quipped nonchalantly “whatever that means”.

Mavis Ampah is so impressive whilst being so casual and down to earth that I was immediately awestruck.

Mavis Ampah spoke at the Women in Tech Africa Summit 2019

Photo credit: (Stanford Africa Business Forum, YouTube)

Mavis Ampah has worked for The World Bank, transformed the telecommunications industry in Ghana and even had a hand in the project for laying the undersea cables that carry the internet.

Imparted wisdom included advising the audience to work on small projects with quick turnaround times stating that “the right visibility can be critical to getting a promotion”.

Other lessons included finding projects that expose you to the boss, the importance of learning to prepare great presentations and to state your issues confidently.

She encouraged attendees by saying:

“Say no with justification – you’ll gain respect. Ask for help with justification – you’ll be appreciated.”

Another valuable topic Ampah touched on is to claim and document your success, she then went on to discuss the value of having a mentor for motivation, training and guidance.

Mavis Ampah reminded us to embrace failure with dignity, explaining that failure should be seen as a path to gain resilience and that we need to adapt, learn and draw lessons from our experiences.

Her closing note was to be brave, telling the audience that “the best opportunities come when you demonstrate courage”.

Exceptional women from all over Africa spoke and attended

The event was hosted at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town, South Africa on the 18th and 19th of March 2019.

By far the most impressive aspect of the Women in Tech Africa summit was the exhaustive list of exceptional female leaders from all over Africa who spoke.

The panels and speakers included a range of executives with roles such as VP of engineering, CTO, CEO, Strategic Growth Director, Chief information officer, Head of Global Business Services and more.

Topics ranged from cloud optimisation and getting into data science to practical advice such as how to present technology principles to a non-technical audience.

Speakers at Women in Tech Africa Summit

 

Getting exposure to tech giants

There were two tracks within the conference: one track of workshops and a ’speakers corner’ venue to meet the speakers, integrating attendees, speakers and sponsors to discuss career opportunities and field questions.

What do the best tech companies in the world do about diversity?

The major themes of the event were around diversity and inclusion, addressing the digital divide, skills development and using tech to drive economic development.

We know that addressing gender inequality is crucial and must not stop. Women are increasingly a bigger part of the workforce, but there are still barriers preventing them from assuming higher management roles.

The Women in Tech Africa summit was an opportunity to hear how tech companies engage in social upliftment and addressing these concerns.

Through Tricia Smyth, EMEA Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Dell and Vice President of Client Solutions David Brooke’s workshop on diversity – I learned of several strategies employed by Dell.

One such program was called Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) which helps men understand unconscious bias, insider/outsider dynamics and gender role conditioning.

Their focus includes flexible hours, education, mentorship and a promotion pipeline that puts women forward. They hold management accountable, saying that this action must start with a definite stance and plan from management. Dell also has a ‘Re-entry’ program which brings women back into the workforce after a career break.

David Brooke, Dell

David Brooke – VP Client Solutions Group (META) @ Dell Technologies giving a workshop on Diversity and Inclusion

Interview with Haidi Nossair

When given an opportunity to interview Haidi Nossair for this article, we spoke about the challenges of diversity in tech and she stated that

“The key challenge is unconscious bias.”

Nossair explained further saying “there is a common perception that certain technology jobs are too difficult for women or because those women look after families that they will not have the time or commitment to cover certain technology roles.”

Going on to detail how bias extends into hiring practices she said “The technology industry is historically led by men, the number of men in the workforce are quite a bit higher than the women in the workforce and then when people are hiring they people nominate and recommend people they know – but they don’t know women.”

Nossair stated “Men need to have more visibility of women in the industry” and stressed that both sides need to engage adding that “Women need to make themselves more visible and to promote their work and their skill set.”

Speculating about causes of women holding themselves back she mentioned: “Either we are not making ourselves visible or we are not promoting the great work we are doing or we are not raising our hands to go after the jobs we want because we don’t feel ready.”

When aiming to satisfy the need for technical skills in the industry Nossair said “I hear a lot that we don’t find the skill sets in the market but that’s the pressure that is placed on the talent acquisition, to actually go out and find those skills to help the organisation and hiring managers make the decisions and not use that as an excuse.”

Her closing remarks were related to her enthusiasm for an IoT agriculture venture and the impact of technology on business use cases saying

“The potential is immense, I am more excited about technology than ever before”.

The women in tech Africa summit was an excellent forum to discuss such issues 

The first day of the event closed with an opportunity to network and share a drink with new friends and other attendees.

The second day closed with a heartfelt keynote from Asha Patel, Head of Marketing at Google South Africa.

Patel tied in many relevant themes and shared her perspective on the challenges of growing up as a woman of colour in South Africa and being a mother whilst being career driven.

Hearing stories like hers is transformational for the Women in Tech community throughout Africa. Inspiration and role models are needed by all of us to have a greater vision for our future.

Asha Patel, Head of Marketing at Google South Africa

Asha Patel, Head of Marketing at Google South Africa

A huge thank you to the organisers – Maddox Events – and to all the attendees and speakers who made it so wonderful. Thanks to Haidi Nossair who kindly gave her time to be interviewed for this Women in Tech ZA article.

Written by Whitney Tennant, 8th April 2019

Whitney Tennant is Engineering Manager at VIPERdev – a software development startup based in Hamburg, Germany. She works remotely, loves tech, art, raspberries and playing soccer. You can find her on the internet with the handle @whits_ftw

Women Innovators honoured at the MTN Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards

MTN WIICT Winners From Left to Right Tebatso Moape (Graduate Recognition Award) Lauren Kate Rawlins (Execellence in journalism) Mariana Kruger (CEO awards and Innovator Award) Pamela Mkhize (Leadership Recognition Awards) Lindiwe Matlali (Community Recognition Awards) Iman Malaka (SME Recognition Award).

The top performing women in information and communication technology (ICT) were recognised at this year’s MTN Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards. The premier ICT women’s event saw several accolades awarded to candidates at a gala event held in Johannesburg on 30 August 2018.

In addition to awarding phenomenal women in the sector, the annual initiative is also aimed at attracting and enabling girls and young aspirant women professionals to consider a profession in the industry.

In its third year, this initiative is one way MTN is bridging the gender gap by bringing the world of ICT closer to all women.

This year’s judging panel comprised a variety of respected and highly accomplished broadcasters, seasoned journalists and editors, business executives, academics and ICT professionals. The panel shortlisted three nominees in various categories, and the winners were:

Pamela Mkhize who took top honours in the Leadership Recognition category. Pamela is currently Head of Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Satellite at the multinational energy utility, Enel Green Power (EGP), a subsidiary of the Enel Group. She is responsible for the organisation’s Digital Solutions department within Africa, and has led the ICT processes for renewable energy plant development projects in India and Australia.

In the Innovator Recognition category, Mariana Kruger, who heads up the Product and Solutions Division within MTN Business South Africa, took the top spot. Mariana’s team provides services and solutions to an array of enterprise customers in South Africa, ranging from the top 1000 blue chip companies to SMEs. They all have their own unique requirements cutting across mobility, core connectivity, managed services, data centre services, internet of things, security services and cloud services.

Mariana also received the CEO’s Award that recognises an MTN employee who has made a difference within the organisation with the use of ICT and technology.

Winning in the SME Recognition category was Iman Malaka. She is the CEO, co-founder and majority shareholder of TIC-IT Telecoms. Prior to this she held various roles in the telecommunications industry.  Iman is passionate about developing people around her.

The Community Builder Recognition Award was handed over to Lindiwe Matlali, the Founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks. This is an NGO that teaches kids how to code.  Lindiwe has received numerous accolades in Social Entrepreneurship, and continues to study at some of the world’s leading academic institutions, such as Columbia University in New York.

The Graduate Award (Tertiary) was awarded to Tebatso Moape, recognised for her role as a Computer Science Lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology. In addition, she recently founded a non-profit organisation, Rebao ICT foundation and Youth Development. Its mission is to be a leading NPO that promotes, drives and instills technological skills through the use of ICT in marginalised communities.

This year’s Lifetime Achiever (Women Pioneer) is Santie Botha. Santie has extensive knowledge and experience in various executive positions, in industries ranging from fast moving consumer goods to banking and telecommunications. She is currently the Chairperson of both Famous Brands Limited and Curro Holdings. She was also the Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University from 2011 to 2017.

Lauren Kate Rawlins received the Excellence in ICT Journalism Award. Lauren is the Digital and Innovation Editor at ITWeb and writes about the different ways businesses are embracing digital transformation, how small start-ups are disrupting big industry, and how the machines are slowing taking over.

Modjadji Maphepha was the recipient of the Ministerial Recognition Award.  Modjadji is the General Manager of Moletsi FM in Limpopo Province, and was chosen for this award by the Minister of Communications, the Honourable Nomvula Mokonyane.

Says Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN SA: “We congratulate the winners for their outstanding performance throughout their careers. The support from industry and government has been overwhelming. This shows how our stakeholders value women’s contributions to ICT, and are happy to get behind the initiatives that MTN has put in place to shine a light on important challenges being faced by society – in this case women. Women must continue to play a meaningful role in the industry, advancing all sectors and inspiring the next generation of ICT innovators.”

Women in Tech Series 3 – Working together to make a change

Episode 3 can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVVTY8dHzzQ&t=103s

As South Africa closes its Women’s Month celebrations, we bring you the final in the Dell EMC Women’s Month showcase, hosted by Women in Tech’s Samantha Perry.

Elizabeth Matsemela, Angela Qithi and Noluthando Maleka all have demanding jobs at Dell EMC. They all also find the time to work within the company to uplift their colleagues and benefit the industry as a whole.

Angela is the South African representative of the Dell EMC Black Networking Alliance. Launched in South Africa in July, the BNA aims to make the organisation a top company for black professionals through focussing on recruitment, retention, development and engagement. It is the first BNA Employee Resource Group outside of North America.

“About six months into my role I started reaching out to individuals to help launch the BNA locally,” Angela says. “Being a black woman, in South Africa, regardless of the industry – it’s so hard. It’s hard because of where we come from. Yes, we’re 25 years into democracy, but there’s a lot of psychological impact today where, as a black person, it’s difficult to verbalise what you want in your career. I believe BNA can bridge the gap – get black professionals to feel confident and comfortable to feel vocal about what they want and go for it, and not feel like they cannot talk to a white colleague or superior and disagree. For me it’s just so important.”

Says Elizabeth, “For me it’s about ensuring everyone gets their fair share. I’m also on the core team of BNA and Women in Action Employee Resource Group. In the STEM industry we’re finding less and less women coming through and it’s important that those who are there put their hands up and be recognised and be known so those who are aspiring can see them and get through.”

Women in Action is an employee resource group that aims to help women in the company succeed through networking and mentoring them with their colleagues and ensuring they have a voice and are included.

“In South Africa there are six million unemployed people, three million of them are between the ages of 16 and 24,” says Noluthando. “Forty-six percent of those are female. For us, as a company in STEM we need to bring young females up, we need to go out to rural areas and empower the youth. Dell does this with The Dell Development Fund. It starts with us taking high school students and training them and broadening the pool.”

The tech sector, she adds, has been very reactive in finding black, female skills, “companies throw money at the people already in the sector and haven’t been proactive in going to schools, working with NGOs, funding education and bringing people up. There has been very little investment.”

All three women agree that it’s time this changed. And they’re working to make sure it does.

Women in Tech Series 2 – Overcoming the odds with determination and drive

Episode two can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15QsSuqS_0s

South Africa is celebrating Women’s Month, showcasing its heroines, reflecting on their struggles and triumphs. In honour of Women’s Month, Dell EMC is showcasing some of the extraordinary women who work in its South African operations, hosted by Women in Tech ZA’s Samantha Perry.

Doreen Kekana, Large Enterprise ASR, Dell EMC South Africa and Carolyn Arnold, Legal Counsel for Dell EMC South Africa could not look more different, on the surface. Underneath, however, both harbour a fierce determination and drive to succeed and to be extraordinary.

Doreen was number six of seven children, who lost her mother at the age of 16. She knew then she needed to do something to change her life, as she saw no hope, and she knew her choices would determine her future. She chose education. “I knew education was the only thing that would break the pattern. Education was something I could own that no-one could take away from me.”

Funding was a challenge, however, and Doreen struggled to get her matric, and then get into university. Once she had done that she faced another challenge – in her first semester she fell pregnant. Not being one to let anything stop her, however, she studied through open learning and correspondence while looking after her baby, and finished her studies.

“It was difficult but fulfilling. I look back now and I do not cry, I just smile. I know I’d made it so far.”

Doreen landed in tech as she studied informatics which has broaden her options. Unsurprisingly, to anyone who knows her journey, she’s excelling. She knew she needed to study something that would give her viable career options, and that was within the reach of her resources, so when she enrolled at Unisa, so selected a BCom Informatics, which gave her a passion for information systems. That passion led her to applying for and getting a role in administrative sales support at Dell 14 months ago, and has just been promoted to an internal sales rep – a substantial promotion in a short period of time.

Carolyn’s challenges have been self-induced, she admits. She’s completed the gruelling Absa Cape Epic twice, no small achievement, and juggles sport with parenting and her role as Dell EMC’s senior legal counsel.

“I was lucky that, when we lived overseas, and my children were younger I was able to work part-time. When we came back to SA they were older, and I decided to get back into sport. There are challenges to maintaining that kind of structure in your day – and it is about developing structure. At the end of the day you don’t feel like you’re losing out of any element of your own life because you can be with your children in the afternoons, pursue my career and be involved in sport. Working at Dell they’re fantastic at work life balance, and as long as you get the work done how you structure your day is up to you.”

Both say their journey has been rewarding and are grateful they’ve ended up in a sector that provides personal and professional support and fulfilment.

Women in Tech Pretoria August meet up

Women in Tech Pretoria is holding its monthly meet-up at MMI Holdings on Thursday, 30 August at 5-30pm.

The evening will include a keynote address from Kefilwe Morobane, award-winning public speaker and entrepreneur entitled ‘The Power of Showing up”, followed by a talk by Ngwako Ramohlale, Founder & CEO of Nunnovation Africa Foundation.

We will then provide a short update on September’s planned event from Sdu Matlala followed by some fun and giveaways from Offer Zen. Wine and snacks will be served before and after the formalities.

Men and women welcome!

Date: 30 August
Time: 5-30pm, for a 6pm start
Venue: MMI Holdings, West Avenue, Centurion 
RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/972863979561073/

MTN announces shortlisted candidates in MTN Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards

After days of reviewing hundreds of nominations for this year’s MTN Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards. The adjudication panel has shortlisted the top three entries that will be competing in their respective categories for the top accolades.

The MTN Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards is a platform that recognises, honours and celebrates the contribution made by women professionals to the growth and development of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in South Africa.

The top three nominees in each category are as follows:

Leadership Recognition Award: recognises senior female executives in the ICT sector whose proven depth of experience in leading change, influencing business outcomes and leading teams has impacted positively on the organisations they lead. The shortlisted candidates are:

  1. Christi Maherry
  2. Pamela Mkhize
  3. Mariana Kruger

Innovator Recognition Award: recognises women who have introduced new methods, ideas, or products that are contributing in one way or the other to the delivery of a bold, new, digital world. The shortlisted candidates are:

  1. Marlize Holtz
  2. Mariana Kruger
  3. Hlengiwe Mazibuko

SME Recognition Award: recognises wholly-owned, women-run enterprises that are viable businesses making inroads in the ICT sector. This is also extended to MTN employees who run their own enterprises on the side, using ICT to enable their businesses. The shortlisted candidates are:

  1. Seshni Doorsamy
  2. Nisha Maharaj
  3. Iman Malaka

Community Builder Recognition Award: recognises a woman who has made a considerable difference in her community through ICT, or use of an ICT tool to make a difference in the community. The shortlisted candidates are:

  1. Zandile Keebine
  2. Lee-Anne Wyman
  3. Lindiwe Matlali

Lifetime Achiever Recognition Award (Women Pioneer): recognises a woman who has longstanding success in the ICT industry, has demonstrated a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, and has continually stayed ahead of the curve. The shortlisted candidates in this category are:

  1. Santie Botha
  2. Loren Braithwaite-Kabosha
  3. Joan Joffe

Excellence in ICT Journalism Award: this category seeks to recognise a journalist who has contributed immensely to creating a better understanding of the ICT industry through her reporting. The shortlisted candidates are:

  1. Yolandi Booyens
  2. Lauren Kate Rawlins
  3. Michelle Constant

Graduate Award (Tertiary): this category recognises a top ICT graduate from a tertiary institution who finished top of her class.  The shortlisted candidates are:

  1. Elizabeth Bekker
  2. Tebatso Moape
  3. Retselisitsoe Lejaha

CEO’s Award: this award recognises an MTN employee who has made a difference within the organisation with the use of ICT and Technology. The shortlisted candidates are:

  1. Mapula Bodibe
  2. Mariana Kruger
  3. Nomaciko Ngoasheng

In addition to the categories listed above, a significant woman, whose contribution has helped to facilitate access to telecommunication services, will be announced by the Minister of Communications, Nomvula Mokonyane.

Says Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive Corporate Affairs at MTN SA: “We are pleased with quality of entries received and grateful for the sterling work done by our adjudicators”.

The adjudication process was audited by BDO auditors, winners will be announced at a gala event that will be hosted in Johannesburg on 30 August.  Remember to follow the conversation on Twitter: #MTNWIICT2018.

Women in Tech video series 1 – Rising Above

It’s Women’s Month, and Women in Tech ZA is once again hosting a video series showcasing the ladies of Dell EMC, hosted by our own Samantha Perry.

The first episode can be viewed here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCpdg2xettk&t=4s

South Africa is celebrating Women’s Month, showcasing its heroines, reflecting on their struggles and triumphs. In honour of Women’s Month, Dell EMC is showcasing eight of the extraordinary women who work in its South African operations.

Emogene Smith, Khulisa Academy co-ordinator, Dell EMC is a single mom to three boys, and the survivor of an abusive relationship. One she was able to walk away from, she says, partly due to the support she got from her boss and colleagues.

“It took some time for me to get to grips, to tell everyone, and speak out. Speaking out is one of the first steps you need to do, and to take a stand,” she says.

Her children, and the need to get them out of a fearful situation, motivated her to make that stand and take those steps.

Reagile Mosaka, account executive, Dell EMC, experienced a different struggle. Born under the Apartheid regime, her father chose to register his children as coloured in order to give them what advantages that could. Named Susan Morgan during her early life, 1994 gave her the courage to reclaim her real name and surname.

She says she felt like she had a different identity at work, and at home and that it was only after school when she reclaimed her name that she could unite those parts of herself, and be the real Reagile.

For both of them, the technology world offers a place they can play to their strengths. For Emogene that is in nurturing the school-age children they take through the Khulisa Academy, which takes children from rural areas with no opportunity to study, teaches them high-performance computing and then finds them jobs. For Reagile, she gets to explore transformation, education, and empowerment, all topics close to her heart and her personal journey.

Helping Dell EMC’s women play to those strengths is the Women in Action Employee Resource Group (ERG). Sabine Dedering regional sales director at Dell EMC, says Women in Action was born out of the idea that both men and women in the IT sector would like to be able to support their colleagues, and help to nurture the next generation of ICT skills through networking and outreach in the community. The ERG hosts regular meetings, including mentoring match-making to connect mentors and mentees inside Dell EMC, and working with colleagues and girls in nearby communities to help them overcome the social stigmas around girls and women being able to do maths and science, and what the tech sector offers them.

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/