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Women redefining leadership in ICT industry

JOHANNESBURG – WOMEN are leading the pack in the male-dominated information and communications technology (ICT) in South Africa, bringing transformation, innovation and excellence.

Telkom’s Female Leadership Programme (FLDP) is among initiatives dedicated to eliminating barriers, enabling women leaders excel in their careers and inspire others.

Among beneficiaries of the year-long programme are Jeanine Carroll, Lorencia Mthembu, Nontando Mtshali and Catherine Seletedi, all who hold positions at Openserve.

Carroll is Senior Specialist: Branding and Channel Management at Openserve Marketing.

“Don’t do what’s easy, do what is right!” Carroll said.

This has helped her build a successful career in the industry, spanning over 22 years.

“I learnt from an early age that attitude is everything,” Carroll said.

“There’s no denying that how you approach life’s obstacles determines your progress,” she added.

Caroll’s passion for ICT is fuelled by the incredibly dynamic and ever-changing nature of the industry.

“The industry offers so many opportunities for creativity, innovation, and entirely new ways of working. You have to stay nimble, focused, and ready to She was selected as one of the top four students in the FLDP programme coming in second place,” Carroll said.

For her, the programme emphasised the need to practice resilience, bravery play to one’s strengths and be of service to others.

“Self-mastery is the one thing that I am still working hard at. It is such an important aspect of self-preservation,” Carroll said.

Mthembu is Ops Manager: Engineering and Core Build division.

She recalled her inquisitiveness and curiosity as a girl in a township in Benoni, Gauteng.

Mthembu’s interest in engineering was sparked from an early age.

Her cousin used to work for Eskom and fixed transformers in the neighbourhood.

“At times I would follow him. At times I would attempt to fix things and my parents would scold me.”

Upon earning a qualification in electrical engineering, Mthembu joined Telkom as a technician.

With more than two decades of experience in the industry, she is cognisant of the gender parity that exists in profession.

“The field has been very challenging with many obstacles. It took me about four years to slowly adjust to the working environment,” Mthembu said.

Her hope for women in electrical engineering is that they learn to support each other, be given opportunities to further explore the field and be exposed and engage.

“Women in the field should have room to be innovative and creative. They must have space to build their confidence and careers,” Mthebu said.

Mtshali is Ops Specialist: Technical Product Development and Support.

She seeks to inspire and mentor young people through her work.

“I want to continue to blaze a trail, share my story and inspire others to reach their goals,” Mtshali said.

Born in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, she received a bursary from Telkom Group to study Computer Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Before graduating, she got her first taste of the Network Engineering and Build Environment space through experiential training during semester breaks.

She joined the Openserve Network Operations team in 2017.

“When I joined Openserve, I became more aware of the women who have blazed the trail and laid the groundwork for more women to be in leadership, which I found inspiring,” Mtshali said.

“Over and above development, it is coaching, sponsorship and mentorship at various levels, that helps us tap into the potential we didn’t know we had,” Mtshali said.

Mtshali received recognition as one of the top four students in the FLDP.

“I now have a roadmap and it is up to me to explore how I will reach my goals,” she said.

Seletedi is a Specialist in Network and Business Models.

Her love for ICT runs in the family, with her father having worked as a technician for Telkom for over 20 years.

“I believe in continuous learning. I’ve been in my new role for a year now, and there is still a lot of learning to be done with the focus to grow my expertise in the field,” Seletedi said.

“The field is very diverse and continuously evolving, I want to be in a position where I can use these learnings to solve complex societal and organisational micro battles,” Seletedi said.

After joining the Openserve team seven years ago, Seletedi has been finding ways to incorporate her passion for social justice into her daily work.

This includes equipping vulnerable communities with digital skills and enabling digital transformation across South Africa.

She believes the biggest takeaway from FLDP was on the importance of human centric leadership.

“Leadership must be human centred,” Seletedi said.

“We often want to bold ourselves up, but it’s when we allow ourselves to rumble with vulnerability that we are able to form true human connections and bring true impact as a collective,” she added.

– CAJ News

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