On Friday the 7th of August, RSAWEB hosted an inspiring and insightful Webinar, where we gathered some of South Africa’s top women working in the technology sector to start a dialogue and engage in some truly uplifting conversations.
First things first, we had to identify who these women were. To do this, we looked at companies that webelieved were doing some pioneering things in tech, and had an inspiring woman at the helm, leading their IT department, or helping make the strategic tech-related decisions within their organisation.
With this said, and after we had done some digging, we invited the following uplifting women to talk at our Webinar:
CEO at ESET Southern Africa
At our Women in Tech Webinar, we heard first-hand how Carey Van Vlaanderen, fearless leader and CEO of ESET, transformed the company into one of the world’s most advanced security solutions.
Head of IT – Robotic Process Automation & Cognitive Services at Old Mutual South Africa
We found out how Sharon Vergotine harnesses her understanding of Robotic Process Automation & Cognitive Services to articulate value proposition across multiple pyramids of stakeholders and industries.
Business Technology Manager: South and Sub-Saharan Africa at Johnson & Johnson
We discovered what drives Nomfundo Ndlanya to deliver on practical IT strategies, as well as how shestreamlines business processes at one of the largest multinational corporations in the world.
Director of Information Systems at the City of Cape Town
We found how Omeshnee Naidoo implements enterprise resource planning for The City of Cape Town, and why she is considered one of South Africa’s top digital transformation experts.
Manager of Channels – Africa at Veeam Software
We learnt how Lisa Strydom oversees the strategy for the Africa channel, from on-premises solutions to the cloud offerings in Veeam’s portfolio, and found out first-hand what it took for her to win the Veeam EMEA Channel Manager Award in 2017.
Business Unit Head at RSAWEB
We heard first-hand how our very own Business Unit Head Wendy Bailey keeps our product range competitive, relevant and sustainable, and how she executes sales plans, manages sales pipelines, and keeps her gaze focused on the customer journey – effortlessly implementing improvement strategies when need be.
Once we had found our six female ‘techsperts’, we crafted some interesting questions that we believedcould help us harness their collective wisdom, as well as present their expert opinions around the tech industry as a whole and the need it has for more strong women to fill its ranks.
We asked them the following questions about the current state of the tech industry:
1) How did you get started in tech, and what experiences led you to technology as a career?
In answer to this question, Omeshnee Naidoo said that ‘’Interestingly, how I got into tech started from studying computer sciences in high school. I was probably one of two females in the entire class.’’
This answer from Omeshnee highlights something rather important, and that is how we need to get young women interested in the wide and wonderful world of tech while they are still in school.
2) What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the next generation of women, and howcan you be strong role models for them?
This is a great question, as there are barriers that exist stopping women from following a career in technology. Nomfundo provided us with a refreshing answer to this question; saying that ‘’The challenges facing the next generation of women tie back to the opportunities available to them, and the limited exposure they get to technology early on in their lives.’’ She followed up by stating that, ‘’It’s really up to us to open these doors and platforms to the next generation of women in tech, and to look at ways of how we can make their journeys easier.’’ – a sentiment we couldn’t agree more with, as it exudes a sense of shared responsibility.
3) What advice do you have for women currently in the tech field experiencing imposter syndrome?
This is a serious question around a subject that plagues large amounts of women in the tech industry and needs some careful consideration going forward. Interestingly, Sharon Vergotine mentioned something quite important, and that was ‘’To overcome imposter syndrome, I first had to realise that it’s OK to fail.’’. It’s so important that, not only as women but as human beings, we realise that we aren’t perfect, and that failure is inevitable from time to time. Once we overcome these insecurities, we can look forward and have more faith in our abilities.
4) What have been your biggest successes and learning opportunities?
Lisa Strydom mentioned to us that ‘’One of my greatest successes of the past year was being promoted to the Head of Channel role within the Veeam organisation.’’ – which we wholly commend her onachieving! When asked about her plans within the role, she provided us with a very reassuring answer,‘’If we come up with some good programs that can actually support ladies to think of IT as a job option, we really need to support that.’’. We are glad to see a truly supportive woman like Lisa doing what she can to make strides within this movement of inspiring women to get into tech.
5) What about the tech industry excites you, and if you could do anything else other than what you are currently doing, what it would be?
This is a good question and one that reminds us about how fresh, forward-focused and exhilarating the tech industry is. Carey Van Vlaanderen had a great answer to this question. She said that ‘’The amazing thing about working in tech is that there are always people bringing fresh ideas to the table.’’ – and what a brilliant thought that is! To love this industry, you’ve got to love the fact that it is made up of people constantly trying to not only push the envelope but change the world, too.
6) Do you think our conversation should be about women in tech at all, or should we be discussing diversity in organisations as a whole?
Living in a country like South Africa, diversity has always been and always will be a topic hot oneveryone’s tongue. With this said, Wendy Bailey said rather poetically that ‘’In a country as diverse and culturally rich as South Africa, we should be focused on inclusiveness and representation of the entire nation.’’
If you couldn’t attend our latest Webinar and would like to watch it in its entirety, you can view it here. We highly recommend that you give it a watch and hear what these inspiring Titans within the technology industry had to say. It’s only 47 minutes long, but in that time our expert speakers packed in some very uplifting thoughts and put across some game-changing ideas.
View the Webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pkic7EegFQ