2019 IT personality, Visionary CIO awards finalists revealed

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By – Admire Moyo

ICT industry body, the Institute for Information  Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) has announced the finalists for the 2019 IITPSA President’s Awards, revealing a field of top veterans and innovators in the running for the ICT sector’s most coveted awards.

The prestigious IITPSA President’s Awards, which include the IT Personality and Visionary CIO of the year accolades, have recognised the South African IT industry’s leading lights for over 40 years.

Past winners include the likes of Etion CEO, Teddy Daka and Absa CIO for virtual channels, Jacques Barkhuizen (2018); Entelect CEO, Shashi Hansjee and former Sasol global CIO, Alec Joannou (2017); and Adapt IT CEO, Sbu Shabalala and Peter Alkema, business  CIO at First National Bank (2016).

IITPSA CEO Tony Parry says the nominees for the 2019 awards were again exceptional, highlighting the overall calibre of South Africa’s ICT industry.

“Our judges had a difficult task in singling out finalists from yet another field of sterling ICT leaders, innovators and change makers. As the industry’s professional body, IITPSA is proud to see that South Africa’s ICT professionals remain world class and abreast of global innovation,” he says.

The IITPSA awards, presented this year in partnership with ITWeb and EngineerIT and award , the Gordon Institute of Business Science, will be awarded at the annual President’s Awards event, to be staged in Johannesburg in November.

This year’s event will align with IITPSA’s forward-looking focus on industry progress, youth skills development and increased future partnership efforts, under the theme “NE><T”.

 

The finalists are:

 

Visionary CIO Award

The Visionary CIO Award honours a CIO who has demonstrated visionary leadership in using IT to support, grow and transform business and/or who has established best practice in implementing technology solutions in an organisation.

•         Helen Constantinides, CIO – Avbob Mutual Assurance Society

Serving as CIO of Africa’s largest Mutual Society with an extensive national infrastructure including over 380 branches, a manufacturing plant and a partner broker network, Helen Constantinides works to digitally transform the business to deliver more value to members. She has also served in several leading global tech companies.

•         Avsharn Bachoo, CTO – PPS

Avsharn Bachoo is a technology strategist specialising in digital transformation, software engineering, data analytics, machine learning, cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise architecture. Holding a PhD in Systems Architecture, he has published pioneering research in international scientific journals.

•         Derek Wilcocks, Group CIO – Discovery Limited

Derek Wilcocks, now Group CIO of Discovery, founded Trusted Network Solutions, which later merged with Internet Solutions, has served as Internet Solutions MD, regional CEO and Group CIO of Dimension Data, and on the boards of numerous companies including 3Fifteen, FibreCo, Plessey, Access Kenya and NTT Group.

•         Louise van der Bank, CIO – Afrisam

One of the first South African CIOs to receive the Professional CIO (Pr.CIO) designation, Louise van der Bank is tasked with leveraging digital solutions to create competitive advantage for AfriSam, a leading supplier of superior construction materials and technical solutions. She has also served as CIO at the South African Post Office, Director: SAP Core Banking for Standard Bank South Africa, and at Iscor.

•         Sandra La Bella, Group CIO – Alexander Forbes

With over 34 years’ technology experience, Sandra La Bella has driven the transformation and overall strategic direction across diverse industries including financial services, banking, food and manufacturing and retail, in roles including software design and development, programme directing, chief information officer, head of technology transformation and adoption, cloud and strategic change, transformation lead and technology risk officer.

 

IT Personality Award

The IT Personality Award recognises a highly respected and outstanding ICT professional who has made a significant technical or academic contribution to the industry, who has been successful in building a highly-respected IT organisation or business, and/or who has made a major contribution to the IT profession over a number of years.

•         Peter Searle, CEO – Barone, Budge & Dominick (Pty) Ltd

Starting his programming journey in COBOL before quickly moving to Pascal, C++ and various network and databases, Peter Searle has worked his way to CEO over the 30 years he has been at BBD, filling almost every role in the software development lifecycle.

Under his leadership, BBD has transformed from a home-grown South African software development firm, to a global powerhouse with teams across Bulgaria, India, the UK, the Netherlands and Portugal and has transformed to an over 50% black-owned B-BBEE Level 2 company, boasting more than 15% black female ownership. He has also spearheaded partnerships with the likes of Umuzi and WeThinkCode to create new skills pipelines.

•         Jaco van der Merwe, CEO – DVT

Leading a team of more than 500 professionals, Jaco van der Merwe has been instrumental in growing software development firm DVT to a leading IT company with a presence in SA and the UK.

Holding a PhD in Computer Science, he is passionate about skills development and training, and DVT assists 100 young professionals through its learnerships and internships each year, while he is personally involved in the moderation of master dissertations or doctoral theses, exams and judging of computer science projects at university campuses.

•         Lillian Barnard, MD – Microsoft SA

With over 20 years’ experience in the ICT industry, Lillian Barnard was appointed as the managing director of Microsoft South Africa in March 2019. She has also served as Microsoft’s public sector director for SA and has been pivotal in re-igniting the South African chapter of Women@Microsoft.

Barnard previously served in an executive capacity at Vodacom’s Enterprise Business and IBM and on the boards of Vodacom South Africa, Mango Airlines and the Dad-fund Non-Profit Organization.

•         Tiyani Nghonyama, COO – Geekulcha

Tiyani Nghonyama is COO and CTO of Geekulcha, whose mission is to address the country’s skills challenge and to groom future geeks.

He is involved in driving and cultivating Geek culture activities in the Northern Cape in particular, and established the NCDev ecosystem in the province. He also delivers lectures and training at institutions such as TUT, UNISA, GIBS and various FET colleges and drives social development initiatives such as RHOK Pretoria, Arduino Day South Africa, and the Geekulcha VacWork, among others.

•         Professor Jean Greyling, associate professor, Department of Computing Sciences – Nelson Mandela University

Prof Jean Greyling of the Department of Computing Sciences at Nelson Mandela University has been instrumental in facilitating over 200 bursaries worth R25 Million for students in the department in the past four years. Since 2016 he has been rolling out the coding app TANKS, developed by his Honours student Byron Batteson, to introduce learners to coding concepts without needing a computer.

•         Tebogo Makgatho, CEO – Netcampus

Netcampus CEO, Tebogo Makgatho, has a lengthy background in the ICT sector and has served, among others, at the State IT Agency, as senior research analyst at BMIT, as research manager at ISETT SETA and in an executive capacity at Torque –IT Holdings and BCX.

Makgatho holds several professional qualifications, including a BSc Genetics from Wits University as well as project management, sales and marketing and business management qualifications. She also served on the boards of Stortech, Arbez, SANGONet, Black IT Forum (BITF), and Information Technology Association (ITA).

 

Social Responsibility/Community Award

The Social Responsibility/Community Award will be presented to a person, team or project that delivers the benefits of IT on a not-for-profit basis into the community or brings the community into the IT space.

•         Takalani (Taki) Netshitenzhe, chief officer corporate affairs and chairperson of Vodacom Foundation – Vodacom Group

Taki Netshitenzhe fosters integrated CSI anchored through the use of ICTs to promote digital literacy for children, youth, learners, teachers, and women in South Africa’s under-privileged and under-served communities; and contribution to the fight against gender-based violence using ICTs.

She is an admitted Advocate of the High Court of South Africa who holds an LLB; a Higher Diploma in Company Law; a BJuris; a Master’s Degree in Security Studies; a Post Graduate Certificate in Cyber Law Cum Laude; and an Executive Education Certificate in Cybersecurity.

•         Frans Kalp, CEO – Ligbron E-Learning Systems

Frans Kalp, winner of over 15 innovation awards and holding a Higher Education Diploma in Electronics & Electrical Technology, founded and is CEO of Ligbron E-Learning Systems, a model for streaming educational content to bridge the rural-urban divide.

•         Rumbidzaishe Maisva, Head of STEM – Womandla Foundation

Rumbidzaishe Maisva is the head of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for Womandla Foundation where she forwards the agenda of encouraging young girls to pursue careers in STEM and related fields.

She is a QA Automation Engineer at Global Kinetic, a FinTech (Financial Technology) company working with software development.

•         Neo Hutiri, Founder – Technovera (Pelebox Smart Locker System)

Neo Hutiri is an engineer-inventor turned entrepreneur and founder of Technovera, a technology start-up developing smart public health solutions. He holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Engineering (Industrial Engineering. He is now studying towards a Master in Philosophy in Inclusive Innovation and was awarded the 2019 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation by The Royal Academy of Engineering.

•         Professor Jean Greyling, associate professor, Department of Computing Sciences – Nelson Mandela University

Prof Jean Greyling of the Department of Computing Sciences at Nelson Mandela University has been instrumental in facilitating over 200 bursaries worth R25 million for students in the department in the past four years.

Since 2016, he has been rolling out the coding app TANKS, developed by his Honours student Byron Batteson, aimed at introducing learners to coding concepts with the use of tangible tokens and image recognition, thus not needing a computer. Over 5000 learners from mainly disadvantaged communities have been reached in coding workshops across all 9 provinces.

 

Technology Excellence Award

The Technology Excellence Award will be presented to a person or team who has made exceptional or innovative use of technology for an organisation and/or who has exhibited technological excellence that has delivered measurable benefit for business/the SA Economy.

•         Technovera (Pelebox Smart Locker System) – Neo Hutiri, founder

Social impact organisation Technovera developed the award-winning Pelebox smart locker system to allow patients to collect their repeat chronic medication in under 22 seconds instead of having to wait hours in queues at public clinics. Medicine is loaded into an Internet-enabled Pelebox smart locker, and the system then sends an SMS with a one-time-pin (OTP) to the patient, who uses the PIN to unlock the locker. 

•         Aerobotics – Benji Meltzer, CTO and co-Founder  

Aerobotics is an Ag-Tech startup providing tree crop protection to farmers through early problem detection and alerts using satellite data, drone imagery and machine learning.

•         Mint II – Peter Reid, head of Mint II 

Mint Group’s Intelligent Insights (II) brand delivers significant transformation to the public, healthcare and commercial industries in SA through the application of disruptive AI solution to address local challenges. Mint Group has secured many international awards for II’s transformational projects and disruptive solutions.

•         Ligbron E-Learning Systems – Frans Kalp, CEO  

Ligbron E-Learning Systems develop and implement new e-learning methods for schools and training centres in Africa, using a unique live streaming network incorporating video conferencing and desktop sharing to link multiple teachers and schools.

•         Pineapple – Marnus van Heerden, co-founder

Pineapple is the world’s first fully realised decentralised insurer as well as the first company to initiate insure using computer vision (AI). The multi award-winning company was established in 2017 and the first product launched to the public in mid-2018.

The ICT sector’s annual highlight – the presentation of the IITPSA President’s Awards, will be staged as a gala breakfast event in Johannesburg on Wednesday 27 November. This year’s event aligns with IITPSA’s forward-looking focus on industry progress, youth skills development and increased future partnership efforts, under the theme “NE><T”.