In the Epilogue to Season 2 Prof Barry Dwolatzky and Kerryn Gammie reflect on each of the 12 conversations that they hosted with leaders, role models and influencers in the local and international digital economy
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.
Sifiso Skenjana is one of South Africa’s top new economists. He is the Chief Economist and Thought Leadership Executive at IQ Business, the leading independent management consulting firm in South Africa
Nomso Faith Kana is a nuclear scientist and founder of two startups. These are “Sun n Shield 84 Technologies” which manufactures fibre optic cable, and “Blaze Away SA”, a business strategy consulting firm. She was also invited to participate as a commissioner on President Ramaphas’s Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (or 4IR). She has worked hard to encourage young Africans – particularly women -to become involved in STEM.
Clifford De Wit graduated from Wits University as an Electrical Engineer in 1996. He joined Microsoft in 2000 and from 2009 took on a senior executive role. In this role, amongst other things, he developed and launched the SA BizSpark start-up program, which mentored over 3000 tech start-up’s, manged the Microsoft relationship with South African universities, managed the DevOps business in South Africa, and ran and keynoted several conferences including TechEd, DevDays and Build Tour. After almost 18 years with Microsoft Cliff decided to build a start-up of his own and in his current role, he is the CTO and co-founder of a new digital business.
Xoliswa Mahlangu (“Xoli”) works as a Computing Curriculum Developer and Technology Integration Specialist at Future Nation Schools. Her personal mission is to demystify tech and make it more fun and accessible to kids of all ages. She is a Microsoft Certified Innovative Educator Expert and has represented South Africa in the international educator exchange. She was featured as Tech Magazine’s Mover and Shaker and has spoken at numerous youth and women in tech events. Xoli has an MEng in software engineering from Wits University.
Monica Singer qualified as a Chartered Accountant. After working for the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants and the World Bank, she became CEO of STRATE, a company set up to digitise the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JCSE). She drove this challenging project with great success. In 2015 she left STRATE to become an evangelist for Blockchain, a technology she sees as having the potential to eliminate many forms of financial corruption.
Tim Jenkin is a political and social activist and a unique individual. He is the author of the book “Escape from Pretoria” which tells the amazing true story of his escape in the 1970’s from Pretoria's maximum security prison. He developed cutting-edge data communication technology in the 1980’s for the ANC’s underground. He is currently involved in Community Exchange which is paving the way for a world without money.
Twenty years ago Pieter De Villiers and his co-founders came up with a tech innovation that was a world first. It literally went on to change the world of digital technology. They launched the company Clickatell which now has offices around the world, including Silicon Valley, although most of its developers still sit in Cape Town. Apart from being a successful South African tech entrepreneur, Pieter has worked really hard to encourage and develop local innovation and entrepreneurship. He is also working on an initiative to grow digital skills in South Africa.
Mark Harris is one of the most respected leaders in the South African digital sector. He entered the sector in 1981 as an engineer at IBM. He remained with IBM for over 30 years rising through the ranks to become Head of IBM SA and then Vice President of business development for the Middle East and Africa region. In 2013 he left IBM to become CEO of Kagiso Media. In 2019 he joined Altron Nexus as its CEO.