Brittany Hawkins

October 20, 2015 in CEO, Entrepreneur, Profiles

Brittany Hawkins

Brittany Hawkins

Brittany Hawkins

Designation: Chief Experience Officer (CEO)

Company: Explore Sideways

What do you do every day? As the CEO of a startup I wear many hats. At the end of the day, I do whatever it takes to get our company and our team to the next stage in growth.

How did you get into the tech space? I lived and worked in Silicon Valley for 7 years, which sparked my endless fascination and adoration for technology. The frenzied tech space is the perfect place for people like myself that don’t see problems, but rather, potential solutions. It’s when technology and imagination collide that I’ve seen the most incredible things happen.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Don’t be afraid to fail. Technology is wildly mutable and faster paced than any field in history – all you can do is embrace the insecurity and learn as much as you can along the way.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Approach each day as a new opportunity to learn. If you focus on deriving enjoyment from the process, rather than the outcome, you’ll be both successful and happy.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The opportunity to learn something I didn’t know the day before.

Twitter: @hawkbritt

Darlene Menzies

September 15, 2015 in CEO, Entrepreneur, Founder, Profiles
Darlene Menzies, TDH/SMEasy

Darlene Menzies, TDH/SMEasy

Name: Darlene Menzies

Companies and Designation: The Development House (TDH) – Founder and Chairman, SMEasy Business Software Pty Ltd – Founder and CEO

What do you do every day? Team role – leader and innovator. I run a business that develops simple scalable software solutions that address gaps in the small business market. I enjoy the risk and challenge involved in taking an idea from concept to commercialisation – going from initial ideation and market research to product design, the development of a minimal viable product, market piloting to demonstrate early user traction and then raising venture capital to fund product commercialisation. In terms of my role in the team I am the ideas person, the team leader as well as the product evangelist. I love my job.

How did you get into the tech space? I started work as a bank teller and got involved in the bank’s IT division through my interest in helping test new IT systems that were being implemented in the bank at the time. I was moved to the regional IT division in KZN in the late eighties, there were no ladies in the division at the time. I worked in corporate IT for 15 years before starting my own software development business in 2004.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? If you don’t totally love what you’re doing stop doing it, immediately…then do everything you can to get started doing what you are passionate about. This one decision will change your whole life.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? I encourage them to do it, it’s the future, the opportunities are endless. I tell them they have to be prepared to work hard, very hard. If they are starting a tech business I usually tell them to be prepared to make big sacrifices and take massive risks, the rewards down the road will far outweigh the sacrifices in the early years. Also that the key to success and growth is your team. If you focus on building your team, your team will build your business.

For people who ask me if I have any particular advice for women wanting to get in tech – I tell them to forget about gender and just do what they are gifted to do and passionate about, that is what will ensure their success. It’s not about gender, it’s about ability, timing, hard work and a bit of luck!

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? I totally LOVE what I do; I would do it even if I didn’t get paid. I wake up on a Saturday and Monday feeling equally excited about the day ahead.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A mix of Melinda Gates, Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep and Katy Perry… LOL. I think all these ladies are incredible in their own fields! Seriously, I want to be me but with loads more money; I would like to be able to make the kind of social and economic impact that someone like Melinda Gates is making. It’s a privilege to be able to change people’s lives.

Twitter: /

Lorraine Steyn

November 10, 2014 in Entrepreneur, Founder, Profiles
Lorraine Steyn, KRS

Lorraine Steyn, KRS

Name: Lorraine Steyn

Designation: Simplifier-in-Chief

Company: Khanyisa Real Systems (Pty) Ltd

What do you do every day? I solve problems – mostly on behalf of clients, and by bringing together great tech, business insight and skilled people.

How did you get into the tech space? I’ve been a software developer since 1978, first at school, and then as a career. I’ve worked on old mainframes to the latest web and mobile technology, and I still love it.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Be willing to learn, even if accepting feedback is hard.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? I’d want to motivate more women to enter the technology sector. It’s not all about geeky gamers – it’s a creative field with scope for a wide variety of skills including business, statistics, design and code, and good people skills are just as essential as problem solving abilities.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The alarm clock and the school run – I’m really not a morning person.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I’m really happy where I am at present. I have a fantastic company, I work with great people, and I’m old enough to not worry what other people think of me!

Find me on:
Twitter: @lor_krs
Personal Blog:
Business Blog:

Candice Goodman

November 3, 2014 in Entrepreneur, Profiles
Candice Goodman, Mobitainment

Candice Goodman, Mobitainment

Name: Candice Goodman

Designation: MD of Mobitainment ; Chair Emeritus and head of Education & Training at Mobile Marketing Association of South Africa

Company: Mobitainment

What do you do every day? I see myself as a translator: I translate technology into marketing results. Which usually means 3 – 4 meetings a day, 300 emails, and a long ‘to do list’ usually taking me into the next day…

How did you get into the tech space? I have always been a techie from when I saved up for my first 1MB hard drive at the age of 15!

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? To listen! Listen to your customers, colleagues, mentors and the solution will come…

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Be prepared to evolve just like technology does.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? A desire to help others and bring happiness into their lives.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Young at heart!

Find me on:
Twitter: @candicegoodman

Debby Edelstein

October 20, 2014 in Entrepreneur, Profiles

WomeninTechZA’s Samantha Perry is chairing the Marketing Your Personal Brand panel discussion at the annual Wired Women tech conference this Thursday! In the spirit of coherence, today we’re profiling Wired Women co-founder Debby Edelstein. Get your tickets here – we hope to see you there!

Debby Edelstein, QualityLife Company

Debby Edelstein, QualityLife Company

Name: Debby Edelstein

Designation: Joint CEO and founder

Company: QualityLife Company

What do you do every day? I’m addicted to innovation and new ideas so my days generally include various combinations of the following: I conceptualise and design conferences, conversations and leadership development programmes; run twitter chats; find, coach and train new leaders; identify new talent for the speakers circuit for our three platforms (the Annual Women’s Leadership, WiredWomen and InspiredTeachers events); facilitate and speak on women’s leadership; manage social media campaigns, write, edit; train and mentor speakers for the speaker’s circuit; check in with the circle of women leaders I mentor, meet lots of interesting people in coffee shops near Parktown North and Rosebank and talk on radio whenever I can because I love radio. TV appearances however only when I’ve slept really well (which is rare) because I always look too pale!

How did you get into the tech space? My husband Dunne and I are serial entrepreneurs and when we had to close our publishing business QualityLife magazine, Dunne (whose background is IT) suggested that we start an email newsletter. I was initially resistant and was pining for my print creation, but quickly developed a passion for the immediacy and accessibility of the digital realm. This was nearly 15 years ago and gave us a fantastic edge in using email, and later social media, for creating communities and marketing our leadership and training courses.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? My Dad said, and still says: “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”. It’s a wonderful lens through which to view fear and risk because often the worst thing that could happen (and usually doesn’t) isn’t really so scary after all. And the ability to take risks is fundamental when you’re an entrepreneur.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Tech has become so all encompassing that it’s hard not to be involved in tech in some way. Whether or not you have traditional tech skills like the ability to code, there is a space for you to contribute. Sheryl Sandberg, after all, is no techie. Mardia van der Walt Korsten who heads up T-systems is a clinical psychologist. The sector is craving inspiring women leaders who are skilled communicators and who are able to inspire others with a vision. So if you’re attracted to innovation and constant learning, I would say don’t think twice.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Usually my barking dogs! Or my need for coffee. Or because I’m a bit of an insomniac, often it’s a creative idea which needs attention in the wee hours of the morning. In terms of passions that motivate me though, it’s my family and I’m driven to give them the best lives I possibly can. Not just materially but by showing them the value of taking charge of your destiny and that there’s no greater satisfaction than creative work that you love that makes a difference to others at the same time.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Still haven’t got a clue. But one of the things I would still like to do is start a fund for women-owned start-ups. There are so many talented women in this country and I would love to be part of giving them the confidence and leg-up they need to make their dreams come true.

Find me on:
Twitter: @debbyedelstein / @wiredwomensa

Joana Picq

August 22, 2014 in Digital, Entrepreneur, Profiles
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