About tech innovation, climbing Kilimanjaro with Prof Thuli Mandonsela, gender empowerment, STEM for girls and the importance of giving back.
What were the key milestones in your tech journey?
The entrepreneurial and technology bug bit me at an early age. I have been writing code and developing systems since 1986. After finishing high school, I joined Anglo American on an internship program. After a few years I started my first IT business because I wanted flexible hours to work from home when my children were young. During this time, I built numerous industry software solutions for the agricultural and logistics sector. After 10 years, I sold the business to a listed South African IT company. From there, I headed up the project management office for the EMEA region for a global telecommunications and real estate company.
I have managed numerous ERP and custom application projects in Africa and Europe. I love building teams and inspiring them to work together to achieve unimaginable successful results. However, I missed the entrepreneurial scene and so I joined APPSolve (Pty) Ltd, a South African entrepreneurial IT consultancy company in 2014. Here I am responsible for new business development in the custom applications space.
One of the greatest innovations I was responsible for was developing supply chain software to assist rural subsistence farmers in Mozambique and Zambia to store and sell their produce effectively using technology. We won two international awards for this innovation. My team responsible for this product were mostly women.
Discuss your responsibility for IT strategy and vision in your organisation – how did it all begin?
I am currently a director and part-shareholder of APPSolve (Pty) Ltd. APPSolve started in 2002 and has grown into a large software consultancy company with over 70 consultants, specialising in both ERP and custom application solutions. We also have a broad spectrum of management consultants and business process engineers. I am responsible for growing the custom applications business unit by finding opportunities to build innovative solutions for the African landscape. A large portion my team consist of woman with skills in database administration, software development, project management, software support and business analysis. In the spirit of paying it forward and motivated by the internship opportunity I got at the start of my career, we also have an Internship program where we create job opportunities for both school leavers and graduates. This year alone I have filled 3 new positions. My vision, as the business grows in these innovation spaces, is to continue creating jobs in the STEM sector for young girls.
What are some of the key initiatives which excite you?
My key initiative for 2019 was taking part in an expedition to climb Kilimanjaro led by Professor Thuli Madonsela, in celebration of Women’s Day and to raise funds for Caring 4 Girls. Caring 4 Girls supplies sanitary towels to girls in school to help keep the girl child in School. We plan to summit on the 9th August 2019. One of my key drivers in my career has always been to create job opportunities, especially for women. I believe since I joined APPSolve I have brought in team building strengths, opened up new revenue streams and have been instrumental in building our company brand and reputation. I have spearheaded appointing and developing new resources. I hope too, that I have enhanced relationships with our partners and clients. Without good people and a good team behind you, you are setup for failure.
I am passionate about the upliftment of women in South Africa and inspiring the younger stars. IT is an ideal job for women as it lends itself to being able to earn money and work from anywhere in the world.
My community initiatives are also very important to me. I consistently ensure that whichever organisation I am in, that my community objectives become part of the CSI program. I have worked closely over the past 10 years with a children’s NGO, Ditshego House of Laughter based in Mooiplaas, Pretoria. It gives me the greatest satisfaction to see children happy, safe, warm and fed.
Where would you like to see yourself and your company in the next 3-5 years in the IT world?
I have a very clear vision for APPSolve as one of the key technology partners in Africa, employing and training many young people to work on innovative technology projects that provide economic and sustainable solutions, not only to help safeguard the future of our continent but also will set global trends.
My hope for myself is to lead by example and inspire more young women to enter the STEM space as their career. I want to know that my legacy involved making a better life for someone and their family by giving them a job and a purpose. That has always been very satisfying for me.