Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
I am the CIO for Payments within Personal and Business Banking Group in Standard Bank. As CIO, I am accountable for all IT areas within Payments for South Africa and play an oversight role in the continent. I look after all delivery and run the bank capabilities within my space.
Payments consist of industry and emerging payments within banking. I have over 19 feature teams and around 164 people that are within my portfolio.
A typical day for me is having to juggle several different aspects at the same time. From an operational perspective having to deal with escalations from delivery delays, outages, people issues etc. Strategic looking by planning either from a technology architecture, finance or resource perspective and then to complete the day of by doing administration which is usually reviewing EXCO reports, contracts and invoice approvals.
Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into computer science?
My passion for the field started at school and it took a great teacher to convince me that what others struggled with in class came naturally to me and that I should pursue this subject when I was in Standard 8/Grade 10. I received the top student award in High School and at the Computer Olympiad, and due to this I decided to pursue a career in this field. I studied Computer Science in University and went on to lecture Information Technology at a college when I completed my studies.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
I believe that woman brings a different dynamic and flavour to the technical workforce. The technical industry is evolving rapidly and requires creative, decisive but collaborative leadership which I believe woman bring to the field. The technology revolution has forced everyone to lead with technology with the focus on digital, AI etc. It is in our homes, schools, hospitals we are even using it, and from this we have seen that the workplace is requiring a need for more creative minds, social thinkers and leaders that are strategists and designers thus creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce which woman play a vital and fundamental role in.
How could the tech industry be more inclusive for women?
By being purposeful in growing and building the capabilities for woman within the industry. There are still several legacy technologies like Cobol that is still predominantly males that have got years of domain knowledge linked with their coding skill set. Companies should focus on training and providing specific opportunities for woman in the future and present skill set like Coding in Java, Python or Data Engineering, Robotics etc. I still see woman prevail in more analysis and delivery roles within IT rather than the technical roles.
Who are some leaders in the tech industry who you watch or appreciate?
Indra Nooyi is someone that I love watching. Coming from a Madras in India she was an Executive at Pepsi before moving into the board of Amazon. Her motivational speeches to woman are dynamic and hard hitting.
What advice would you give your younger self or any woman pursuing a career in the tech industry?
Your biggest enemy is yourself, it is not the man you are competing with for the next position or the organisation that doesn’t see your worth it is you! If you want something bad enough go, get it and ask for it. Don’t expect someone to see your worth and hard work and reward you with the promotion. You want it bad enough then be purposeful in your quest to get it. No one has your back except you. And no one will bring down your self-worth and confidence except you.
How do you stay motivated?
Time out, very similar to when I was a child and I used to misbehave my dad used to give me a timeout…Lol. Silly as it sounds I give myself a time out when the work politics and stress get to me. I take a weekend away with the family or a day or two out of the office, but it is a way to self-reflect and energise my mental self to take on whatever challenge that stands before me.
Fun fact about you
I have just taken on two new sporting activities. Boxing which is a great cardio workout not to mention a stress reliever and the second sport is golf which originally started out to further my career but has actually turned out to be a sport that I quite enjoy. I have now got my girls hooked so it is a mother and daughters’ hobby that we have taken on.
What can the delegates at She’s a Boss – Women in Tech expect from you? In few lines, please state the importance of such a platform for women?
The delegates can expect me to be bold in my opinions at the same time challenge the delegate’s perceptions and thinking. I use personal experiences to articulate my views and points.
I believe that this is important because our journey may be unique but also similar. We need to be able to share our stories and experiences so we all can learn from each other. There is no better platform than woman promoting woman.
The topics that will be discussed at the event are relevant in technology and society today and will benefit any woman wanting to promote her career within IT.
Join May Govender at She’s a Boss – Women in Tech on 4 – 5 September 2019. Register here.