You are currently viewing In Conversation with Tiyani Nghonyama

Tiyani Nghonyama finished high school in 2010. Nine years later he was named by the IITPSA as its “South African IT Personality of the Year” for 2019. He is, so far, the youngest guest we’ve had in Season 2 of the Optimizing podcast and yet, in terms of his impact on future digital leaders, he is quite possibly one of the most influential.


Tiyani Nghonyama has a qualification in computer systems engineering from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and is co-founder and COO of the organisation called Geekulcha. He wears many other hats. For example, he is leading an initiative to create a tech developer ecosystem in the Northern Cape. He also sits on several advisory boards.

He and Prof Barry Dwolatzky met in 2014 while IProf Barry was busy setting up Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, and Tiyani was working to grow Geekulcha’s entrepreneurship support programmes. It was Tiyani who awarded Prof Barry one of his favourite labels – the Grand Geek!

In his acceptance speech on receiving the IT Personality of the Year Award in November 2019, Tiyani thanked Prof Barry and said he would like to “follow his example”.  It was this that got Prof Barry thinking about life’s relay race in which each generation hands over the baton to the next. This was the thought that inspired him to launch this series of Podcasts, in which we focus on intergenerational conversations. It also inspired this website . The Grand Geeks.

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Barry Dwolatzky

Prof Barry Dwolatzky is the original "Grand Geek" and founder of The Grand Geeks collective. He is an Emeritus Professor at Wits University and Director of the JCSE at Wits University