Bernelle Verster

April 18, 2018 in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Engineering, Profiles, Research, Woman of the Week

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

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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

Annette Muller

October 7, 2014 in CEO, Founder, Profiles
Annette Muller, DOTNXT

Annette Muller, DOTNXT

Name: Annette Muller

Designation: Founder & CEO

Company: DOTNXT

What do you do every day? I multi-task, I build, and watch people grow, I innovate.

How did you get into the tech space? I was born in the tech space. 🙂 But my first real entry was working on MTN”s nok nok, its mobile social network back in 2007.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Everyone is just human, if they can do it, you can do it.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? It is the future of all industries, every company will be a technology-driven company so don’t even think twice, just do it.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Being a part of delivering something extraordinary every day and being surrounded by people smarter and wiser than myself!

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I am not planning on every really growing up!

Find me on:
Twitter: @nettyml

Lynette Hundermark

August 5, 2014 in CEO, Founder, Profiles
Lynette Hundermark, Useful and Beautiful

Lynette Hundermark, Useful and Beautiful

Name: Lynette Hundermark

Designation: Co-founder, MD and Chief Product Officer

Company: Useful and Beautiful

What do you do every day? I am currently building up my start-up business. My daily activities include:

Business development (ensuring I move from startup to the growth phase within the next three months) – I am working toward this by meeting with existing and potential clients to make sure I understand their short-term and long-term business goals in order to identify the best way a mobile solution (be it apps or mobi) can help them meet those needs.

I also monitor the mobile consumer landscape so that I can advise potential clients on the best and most relevant solutions for their business at a strategic level. I work with designers and developers on existing projects so that the project execution is in line with the vision expected by clients. I also manage client expectations as the project unfolds.

As a veteran in the mobile space my job is also to educate my clients about the industry, so I proactively look for ways to improve their business using current technology trends.

How did you get into the tech space? I graduated with a BSc(hons) degree at university majoring in Computer Science. I was offered a bursary by Standard Bank during my third year of studies. On completion of my degree, Standard Bank placed me in their head office as an analyst programmer.

I continued working an as analyst programmer for several years thereafter, both locally and internationally (eight years in the UK) with clients including Citibank, Deutsche Bank and HSBC. I progressed to the level of senior enterprise analyst/developer and on my return to SA in 2010; I was approached by the MIH group to fulfill a new role as mobile product manager which requires a combination of technical, analyst and user experience skills.

My passion for the mobile space ignited during this time and I realised I wanted to focus in this ever-changing space. I have always been a gadget girl and it was a fantastic opportunity to combine both of my passions. Wanting to pursue a strong career in mobile by gaining as much practical experience as possible across a variety of industry sectors, I joined Prezence Digital (at the time, it was the best mobile solutions house in the country), to build and grow their mobile apps division. Earlier this year the holding company of Prezence (Primedia) decided to exclude mobile from their core offerings and shut Prezence down. That was a huge catalyst towards me making the big bold move to start up my own company and continue working in a space that I love.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? My good friend and mentor reminded me of a phrase by the great Mandela when I was torn with the decision of starting my own company or looking for a new job at a corporate: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Don’t look at it as a black and white career. Although IT can be seen to have an “old-fashioned” connotation, new channels such as apps belong in this realm. There are many paths and opportunities so you have to explore and cultivate your career to what you want it to be.

Females in particular seem to think that working in tech means you have to be a geek in the corner coding. While sometimes it may start out that way (I was one of those geeks in the corner for almost eight years), it certainly does not have to stay that way. Tech is wonderful, dynamic and so full of progress. If you are willing to embrace it, there are no limits to what you can achieve.

Find a tech space that inspires you and do the best you can. I strongly believe that women can have a career and a family as long as it is a career that inspires them. It’s really about loving what you do and working hard at it that will always yield results.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?

Nothing beats waking up every morning to do something I really enjoy and getting paid for it. Seeing a product evolve from just a concept on a napkin or a whiteboard to something tangible is the best feeling ever.

I love that tech is so dynamic; it excites me that a new gadget or operating system may be released at any time and I look forward to investigating what cool stuff can be built on it. Also as a gadget girl at heart and working in the tech space, it’s the best of both worlds for me as there is no real division between my personal and professional life. Life does not get any better.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I am growing up really fast in my new role as a business owner using my own money to pay for things along the way. I suppose I would like to be regarded as a successful, well-established business owner, who is able to lead by example to help inspire and motivate people to realise that all it takes is hard-work, determination and a passion to succeed in life.

Find me here:
Twitter: @lynetteanthony @UandBMobile

Shana Kay Derman

July 30, 2014 in Founder, Profiles
Shana Kay Derman, IntelliCred

Shana Kay Derman, IntelliCred

Name: Shana Kay Derman

Designation: Chief Innovator (Co-Founder)

Company: IntelliCred

What do you do every day? Meeting with clients, product review and development, searching for new customers, constantly recruiting for our development team (skills are rare).

How did you get into the tech space? I got into the tech space helping my uncle in his tech company and loved the element of troubleshooting problems and that the tech-space resides in an ever-changing industry.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Not to worry about gender in this male-dominated space and to do the best job you can do. Sooner or later, they won’t see gender and only see the person who does the best job.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Life long learning is key is the tech-space. If you love learning new things and understand that technology is constantly changing affecting businesses and its processes, the technology space is perfect for you.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Making my business successful so that I can provide more for my family is key to kick-starting my day. In addition to this, the overriding belief that my business is going to be a global success is always at the top of my mind so I hardly ever feel like not getting out of bed :).

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A “serial-technology-philanthropist-entrepreneur”.

Find me on:

Twitter: @intelli_cred

Twitter: @shanak