Angela Schaerer

October 22, 2014 in Enterprise, Profiles
Angela Schaerer, Microsoft SA

Angela Schaerer, Microsoft SA

Name: Angela Schaerer

Designation: Academic Programme Manager

Company: Microsoft South Africa

What do you do every day? My role at Microsoft entails building collaborative partnerships with the Department of Basic Education, both nationally and provincially, as well as working with schools, teachers and other education stakeholders to provide support in meeting South Africa’s education priorities. Our focus is not on the technology per se, but rather providing thought leadership and professional development for teachers and school leaders on rethinking approaches to teaching and learning so that our youth are given opportunities to develop the types of skills that will make them successful citizens, employees and entrepreneurs. On a daily basis, I may be meeting with partners or education officials, facilitating presentations or workshops, co-ordinating pilots and programmes being implemented in various schools and provinces, and creating platforms for principals and teachers to share best practice.

How did you get into the tech space? I fell into the tech space! I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Pietermaritzburg followed by a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) having only really used technology to type assignments (slowly) and send smses as the proud owner of one of the first Nokia phones. After teaching for a few years in South Africa and the UK, I decided to do my Honours in Publishing at WITS and while studying, took on an editing role at Learnthings Africa (a digital curriculum content provider) to practice my skills. I ended up creating a training department for the company to support teachers in effectively using the digital content and technology to enhance teaching and learning. Through this I had the opportunity to work with ministries of Education and teachers in both rural and urban schools in numerous countries across Africa. This offered a unique opportunity to understand the challenges and benefits in the implementation of technology in schools.
In 2006 I joined Microsoft as part of the Education team. (I have not worked in the publishing industry although see exciting opportunities in this space as technology in schools becomes more ubiquitous and access to digital material and learning becomes more accessible.)

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Follow your passion and trust your intuition. My work is not a job – it is part of who I am and brings meaning to my life by providing a platform to contribute positively towards society.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Advances in technology are exponential! And the possibilities of how technology can help to improve the lives of South Africans are endless. I think the key to being successful in the tech sector is a commitment to continuous learning. It is important to keep abreast of emerging trends and technologies – I do this using platforms like twitter and blogs as well as attending conferences and networking with people in the industry.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? A good cup of coffee and a morning run.  Microsoft is a busy, vibrant environment with passionate people and a commitment to delivering valuable solutions for customers – working in this space is nergizing and inspiring.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A mother, a life-long learner, a traveller, and maybe one day a business owner.

Find me on:
Twitter: @angschaerer



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

Elizabeth Gould

September 4, 2014 in CEO, Digital, Profiles
Elizabeth Gould, Bloomberg TV Africa/codeX

Elizabeth Gould, Bloomberg TV Africa/codeX

Name: Elizabeth Gould

Designation: Presenter and Tech Correspondent / CEO

Company: Bloomberg TV Africa / codeX

What do you do every day? Tell stories about awesome innovators and entrepreneurs across the continent, and build a startup breeding many more.

How did you get into the tech space? I got the chance to produce a show called Innovators on Bloomberg TV in the US and I’ve been hooked on creating the future ever since.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Ask forgiveness not permission.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? As important as coding is, the business of technology is fundamentally about understanding the behavior of humans other than yourself. Cultivate empathy.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Being around people who create.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A novelist.

Find me on:
Twitter: @lsabeth3

Tabitha Bailey

August 4, 2014 in CEO, Director, Founder, Profiles
Tabitha Bailey, Daptio & TWP

Tabitha Bailey, Daptio & TWP

Name: Tabitha Bailey

Designation: Founder and CEO

Company: Daptio and Together We Pass

What do you do every day? My days are way too busy, because for past year and a bit I have been running two companies with small teams – which means that I have to do pretty much everything myself.

This includes meetings with clients for Daptio, with training and support for people already using the system. Meeting new potential clients and doing software demos. General admin for Daptio and Together We Pass (TWP) – which always takes up more time than you think! Directing the marketing strategy and writing content for TWP – we are SEO and social media driven so it is hands on and takes a lot of time to do well.

I also have to keep up to date with our development plan for Daptio and TWP, and make sure the right tech is being worked on in terms of the biggest business need of the day. I also do bug testing – we’re constantly testing our technology to make sure it’s all working as it should be. Part of my day is also spent keeping an eye on finances, especially daily income but also expenses and matching to budgets. Then there’s strategy and management – on every level. From keeping track of the overall plan for the next few years, to what we need to achieve this term, to what we are doing this month, to what people need to be working on today. It’s intense!

How did you get into the tech space? Through business need. TWP was growing too fast (100% in 2012) and we could not scale at that pace without technology to assist us. I found a technology partner to help, and suddenly I was in ed tech! I now have two businesses that are technology-based, both in education.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Build your network – you can’t do business without one.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? If you do not have a tech background, be very careful who you choose for your technology partner.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? My son.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Permanently on holiday. Working hard enough for two lifetimes now – have to stop at some point.

Find me on:
Twitter: @tabbybailey @togetherwepass @daptio
Google+: TabithaBailey

Barbs Mallinson

July 21, 2014 in Digital, Founder, Profiles

Barbs MallinsonName: Barbara Mallinson

Designation: Founder & CEO 

Company: Obami

What do you do every day? A mix of things… I catch up with my team, do some business development and product development, strategise, create content, dabble in marketing, travel, speak, network – whatever’s needed for that day – all fuelled by too many cups of coffee.

How did you get into the tech space? I started my own tech company because of a strong distaste for corporate life, coupled with a sense that the Internet was only going to get bigger and better.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? If it’s not scary, it’s not worth doing!

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Go for it… be prepared to shed a bit of blood, sweat and tears – the more you do, the luckier you’ll get.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? Knowing that Obami is doing some pretty cool stuff… at a pretty cool time in African history.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?  I’d like to be my same ol’ self, but hopefully wiser in many ways.

Find me on:
Twitter – @barbsmall
LinkedIn –
Obami –