Women in Tech of the Month: Nikita Dehal

November 29, 2021 in Business development, Profiles, Woman of the Month, Women in Tech

Name: Nikita Dehal
Designation: Business Development
Company: Ozow

What do you do every day?
Professionally, in my role at Ozow, which is a South African FinTech company, my day to day varies. Most days I am reviewing and advising on contracts from both a legal and business perspective, I am driving risk mitigation and regulatory compliance, and I am engaging with various internal and external stakeholders in an effort to improve processes and efficiencies. I am also engaged in building the business’s policy framework and in high-level strategic initiatives.

How did you get into the tech space?
I am passionate about innovation, learning through innovating and contributing to financial inclusion in Africa. I left the traditional law firm environment seeking a place to explore my passions and utilise my skill set and acumen. Having experienced the tech world in the US, I gained exposure to the opportunities for lawyers in tech. I actively sought such a role when returning to South Africa.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Define your purpose, explore your passions, recognise your worth and reach for stars.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into tech?
I would advise that he/she consider their abilities, strengths and weaknesses, conduct their research into the tech environment and look to people with similar backgrounds for mentorship and guidance. I think it is important to ensure that your professional and personal strengths and abilities align with a role in the industry that you are seeking, and an individual in the industry that you look up to. In this way, you can adequately plan a path to achieving your desired professional goals.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
I love what I do and feel that I am living out my purpose. This motivates me.

Women in tech of the Week: Katlego Mabunda

November 29, 2021 in Business development, Profiles, Woman of the Week, Women in Tech

Name: Katlego Mabunda
Designation: Business Process Engineer
Company: FNB

What do you do every day?
I work on process mapping, analysis, and digitisation and/or automation of processes. I am also a tutor at a university and also a business owner for an online store. I pack orders and dispatch them.

How did you get into the tech space?
I studied Masters in Information Technology Management

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
There’s always a price for everything you do whether good or bad, so choose your path well.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into tech?
It’s better to fail than to never try

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
Life – the minute I open my eyes and realise that I am alive. I get up with gratitude knowing that I am given another chance to make my life right.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
A leader who follows servant-leadership principles. I want to change the definition of leadership in corporate. Leadership should be given to those who understand and live by this principle.

Women in Tech of the week: Vinoliah Martin

November 29, 2021 in CIO, COO, Profiles, Woman of the Week, Women in Tech

Name: Vinoliah Martin

Designation
: Chief Technology Officer/Client Technology Lead

What do you do every day?
I am currently a Client Technology Lead viewed as a virtual Chief Technology Officer and part-time Non-Executive Director, Conference speaker, visionary and goal-oriented professional with over 12 years experience in strategy development and execution, project leadership and technology. I am at the forefront of digital transformation efforts for enterprise businesses and help enterprises innovate and digitally transform their operations, products and business models.

How did you get into the tech space?
I studied software development and then moved into a management role within the software quality assurance space and have been in the technology area for more than 12 years and love every bit of it. So much so that I am now embarking on a PhD journey focusing on digital transformation of organisations

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Keep pushing to reach your goals and don’t be afraid to take risks

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into tech?
Technology is all around us and constantly evolving, get into tech and become part of an exciting community and sector that is transforming everything around us from education to the way we do business, compete in the market and grow the economy. Get into tech and help build technologies that champions inclusion, privacy, safety, and transparency and builds a better more innovative future for all mankind.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
Knowing that I will continue to strive and make a positive change and difference in someone’s life, be that an employee, a client, a friend, family member or stranger. Also, knowing that it is a new day to get up, show up and work towards that next development phase and career aspiration

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
A person who ’empowers all nations to leverage technology capabilities for the greater good of society and effective economic growth.’

Women in Tech of the Week: Janine Harley

November 29, 2021 in Brand Manager, Profiles, Woman of the Week, Women in Tech

Name: Janine Harley

Designation: Account Manager

What do you do every day?
Each day I am inspired to go out and help my clients, friends and colleagues achieve their goals. I truly believe that we rise by lifting others.

How did you get into the tech space?
I got into the tech space by pure chance. In 2009, Internet Solutions gave me an opportunity and it changed my life forever. I believe I was put on this path for a reason and would not change a thing. I feel blessed.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Never give up and always do your best. The rest will follow.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into tech?
DO IT!!!! It is not easy by any measure but the feeling of being able to form part of the worlds future is so rewarding.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
The idea that I can help create something that can impact the future is what drives me. I also get to meet loads of really cool people.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
I think I am pretty grown up already 🙂 My goal is to never stop learning and growing.

Women in Tech of the Month: Kelly Hoffman

November 29, 2021 in CEO, Entrepreneur, Profiles, Woman of the Month, Women in Tech

Name: Kelly Hoffman
Designation: CEO and Digital Navigator
Company: Vocalysd.ai

What do you do every day?
I spend countless hours understating with a hands-on approach of every aspect of my new start-up and taking strategic steps to build something great. Something that genuinely makes a difference and aligns AI with human performance – I am not here to replace the people element, I am here to enhance it. I get my hands dirty, I intrench myself in all aspects and (at times to my own detriment) go at full speed to achieve results. So, in short: I never sit still. I also drink a lot of tea 🙂

How did you get into the tech space?
By accident, out of necessity to be frank. Yes, I feared this monstrous word “tech” (due to zero experience) BUT with a genuine and passionate love for business development – I took on a role to open the African leg of an established global software player – Initially focused (and still do) on the growth factor, but one has to know what they are selling and believe in the product. My love affair began – I am resourceful, and okay with asking for help. I don’t have to be the “know-it-all” in the room. I have learnt from my peers and continue to do so. This very experience led me to build my own baby. A work in progress (soon to be launched) – “Designed and developed by South Africans, for South Africans” FYI – not a competitor product to what I do now, I have integrity and loyalty 🙂

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Mandela (true story – he keeps me going) ” Nothing is impossible until it is done” – every week I learn more, accomplish more and love what I do. I feel less “stupid” than the week before, and proud of the little steps I take. I am empowered by the knowledge and industry I envelope myself in. Yes, tech is exciting, and I am obsessed BUT my greatest teachers are the people I engage with daily!

I literally take baby steps (realistic to me and my understanding), and his words and example remind me to keep pushing and to never give up!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into tech?
Remain human. Be authentic. Tech is fun and share that passion with others. Allow your mind to be stretched and listen to your audience. Technology is constantly evolving, enjoy the ride but above all, always be ethical and stand by good practice. lastly, it is okay to be the student, in fact that’s the best position to hold. Have fun and be kind to yourself.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
Mmmm… interesting as this involves multiple factors that may not be tech related (directly that is), however – family! Building a legacy, I am proud of and my children will benefit from gets me excited every day! I also am completely addicted to innovation, data and all kinds of self-growth.

Vocalysd, a start-up is my own version of “Kelly’s MBA” – I want to envelop myself in every aspect, understand from the bottom up. So, when I stand before others, and the head of a boardroom table of a global monster – I earned that seat, I deserved it and I have the knowledge and experience to back it up.

My true aspirations are more around business growth and becoming a CEO of a power-house tech company, that absolutely drove innovation and changed lives. Its way more than just a title.

Woman in Tech of the Week: Fazlyn Petersen Petersen

November 29, 2021 in Profiles, Training and development, Woman of the Week, Women in Tech

Name:  Fazlyn Petersen Peterse

Designation: Senior Lecturer

Company: University of the Western Cape

What do you do every day?
I am a Senior Lecturer in the Information Systems (IS) Department at the University of Western Cape.

How did you get into the tech space?
I joined academia to train the next generation of IS professionals. I teach Information Systems Strategy and Enterprise Architecture. The rising levels of youth unemployment has made me focus on including entrepreneurship into my courses so that students have an alternative to finding employment in the formal sector. Students need to formulate a business idea using Design Thinking then create a Business Model Canvas as the first step towards their business plan. We need more female IS professionals and entrepreneurs to make a difference to the South African economy.

I honestly didn’t want to become an Accountant, Economist or Statistician so this major was chosen by order of elimination lol I’ve heard a saying, “Sometimes a dog chases the wrong squirrel up the right tree”. IS was my right tree even though I didn’t realise it at the beginning. It works to my strengths of problem solving and creative thinking.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Nothing is impossible, even the word says I’m possible 🙂

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?
When I started a degree in IS I wasn’t even computer literate and I didn’t own a computer. I had never used the internet before starting university. Now I have a PhD in Information Systems. I’m proof that with hard work you can achieve anything. Challenges help you grow and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger 🙂

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
I can make a difference using technology to help make a difference. I can design for the inclusion of the marginalised.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
I wanted to be a doctor and now I am but without the needles, blood and Covid.

South African women to take centre stage at SingularityU South Africa

August 26, 2021 in Events, News, Women in Tech

South Africa’s top female thought leaders across various industries are set to take centre stage at the upcoming SingularityU South Africa Summit 2021 – taking place online from 12 – 15 October. This future focussed summit aims to equip South Africans and Africans with the latest insights regarding exponential technologies and innovation across a number of fields. 

Topics to be addressed include leadership and investment, artificial intelligence, crypto/blockchain, biotechnology, future of banking, scaling, ESG, 5g, cybersecurity, scaling, social impact, food security, education, NFT’s (non-fungible tokens), gaming, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, 3D printing, space, digital marketing (SEO, Online Ads, Social) and DEFI (decentralised finance).

Headshot of Rapelang Rabana

Rapelang Rabana, Rekindle Learning

Rapelang Rabana, the acclaimed founder of Rekindle Learning & FFWD Innovation, who has been named Entrepreneur for the World by the World Entrepreneurship Forum, will present a keynote sharing her unrivalled expertise on connectivity.

Andrea Bohmart, a partner at South African venture capital firm Knife Capital, will share her plans to prove that South African founders and the companies they build can compete on a global level.

Head shot of Geci Karuri-Sebina

Geci Karuri-Sebina

Kim Hulett, known widely as the founder and CEO of Next Biosciences, and a SingularityU South Africa faculty member, will address the latest developments in reproductive biotechnology. Dr Tamara Pheiffer, an expert in biohacking, will address how the latest advances in medical biohacking can extend one’s longevity. Tanya Knowles, South Africa’s top thought leader regarding blockchain and cryptocurrencies, will share the latest insights in this fast moving area of exponential technology. Geci Karuri-Sebina will share her insights regarding the potential that smart cities have to improve quality of life.

Independent Strategy Consultant, Anu Sing will address leadership in business, while Melanie Rieback, the CEO/Co-founder of Radically Open Security, the world’s first non-profit computer security consultancy company, will tackle cybersecurity in business. The dynamic Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp and Nastassia Arende are the hosts for various discussion panels and will MC the summit.

Various international female speakers will also take to the stage including Cathy Wood (Founder & CEO Ark Invest), Paola Santana (Founder Social Glass), Nathana Sharma (General Counsel, Labelbox AI), Hilda Liswani (CEO & Founder We Bloom Africa), Jaya Baloo (Chief Information Security Officer at Avast Software, SingularityU Faculty on Cybersecurity and Quantum Computing), Amy LaMeyer (Managing Partner of WXR Fund), Laila Pawlak (CEO, SingularityU Nordic), Merritt Moore (Forbes 30 under 30, Quantum Physicist), Beena Ammanath (Executive Director of Deloitte AI Institute), Alix Rübsaam (SingularityU Faculty – AI), Kadine James (CEO & Founder, The Immersive Kind) and others.

“There has never been a more important time to embrace diversity and ensure that female voices are heard. It is essential that we not only close the gender gaps in trade and industry but also enable female leadership to take its rightful place in the workplace, if we are to create an abundant future,” says Mic Mann, Co-CEO of SingularityU South Africa. “The SingularityU South Africa Summit is one of the largest African thought leadership, innovation and technology events on the continent, focussed on driving positive change and exponential growth so that we can #futureproofAfrica,” he adds.

“For us, it’s all about how do we educate, empower, and inspire our community with bleeding-edge knowledge from the world’s most sought after thinkers and doers, who share unrivalled acumen in the topics that they address,” comments Shayne Mann, Co-CEO of SingularityU South Africa.  

The SingularityU Exponential South Africa Summit 2021 will be hosted in collaboration with Deloitte and MTN. To join the SingularityU community of changemakers, or to book, visit: https://singularityusouthafricasummit.org/

WeThinkCode_ seeks volunteer mentors to help build SA’s next generation of software developers

August 20, 2021 in Mentoring, News, Software, Women in Tech

WeThinkCode_ is looking for experienced software practitioners to mentor its second-year students and help build South Africa’s next generation of software programmers.

Industry mentors will form part of the software programming academy’s new Volunteer Programme, introduced as part of its revised curriculum, which is scheduled to begin next month. 

WeThinkCode_ is an independent South African software training academy that moulds the sharpest young minds from underserved populations into excellent software developers and programmers. The courses are fully sponsored by corporate businesses and funding organisations.

Encouraging  industry mentorship

Mentorship is a core component of the new curriculum and is partly responsible for the 92 percent student retention among the academy’s 2020 cohort.

Nyari Samushonga, CEO of WeThinkCode_, explains, “WTC_ uses a peer-to-peer training methodology that reinforces a structured technical training path. Mentorship support was introduced for first year students by allocating high performing second year students as tech mentors. First years were all put in groups of six and each group was allocated a mentor.

We’re now inviting tech industry experts to mentor our second-year students. The goal is to prepare our students for the transition from the academy to the workplace. In this way, mentors can add enormous value,” says Samushonga.

These external mentors should ideally be experienced software developers or engineers and will be expected to guide a group of between four to six students over a six-month period starting in September.  This commitment will involve a minimum of one hour every two weeks (12 hours total commitment) to align with the curriculum project iterations.

“This programme will suit the professional who enjoys coaching and helping young teams grapple with programming problems. WTC_will supply the tools, context and links with other mentors in an opt-in monthly coaching circle,” says Gina Stoltz, Head of Community at WTC_.

Holistic participation

Apart from group mentorship, WTC_ is also looking for volunteers to assist all students in other areas of its programme.

“In our Interview Readiness Programme, we need members of the tech community to take part in a series of simulated technical interviews. These interviews will help students acquire improved communication and self-reflection skills, enabling them to present themselves with confidence in an actual interview. 

Volunteers for the Interview Readiness Programme are ideally members of the software development community with experience in technical recruiting and hiring,” says Stoltz.

 “For our planned WomenThinkCode= Meetups, volunteers can opt in to host monthly meetups specifically for women students in our programme.  Finally, we are looking for members of the tech community to participate in our community events calendar by hosting one-hour talks to inspire students and alumni by sharing their journeys in the industry and the work in which they are involved.”

“This is an exciting phase for our academy, and we are seeing real results in terms of student performance, retention and engagement, due to the approach we have taken with the new curriculum.   We would like members of the tech community to be part of the journey and help prepare our students to be life- and job-ready upon completion of the course,” Samushonga concludes. 

If you are interested in volunteering or know anyone in your network that could be suitable for any area in our Volunteer Programme, please take a moment to SIGN UP HERE or go to www.wethinkcode.co.za/volunteer.

/ends.

About WeThinkCode_

WeThinkCode_ is an independent South African software training academy that was launched in 2015 and welcomed its first coding students in May 2016.  It searches out the sharpest young minds in underserved populations, connects them with global thought leaders and cutting-edge technologies and moulds them into excellent software developers and programmers. Our mission is to train Africa’s next generation of software engineers and, in so doing, drive the digitisation of African business. In 2019, WomenThinkCode= was established to grow the number of women software programmers in the technology sector.

We partner with organisations looking to recruit top tech talent through the sponsorship of our students, thereby providing access to the skills pool of WeThinkCode_ interns and graduates.

WeThinkCode_ has placed hundreds of talented individuals within numerous local and international partner companies across a range of industries.  We have a track record that includes a partner base of over 55 companies and a 92% success rate in securing employment for the over 500 graduates of our software development programme.