IT with a soul
Style of leadership key to success
were needed that women can overcome the gender stereotype often associated with the ICT industry – largely considered a bastion for men – it came at the recent Computer Society of South Africa (CSSA), Gartner and Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) sponsored IT personality awards.
Mardia van der Walt-Korsten, CE of T- some opportunities, Van der Walt-Korsten says other cost-conscious companies were in fact ramping up their ICT spend.
“Most cost-conscious corporates want to deploy ICT infrastructure that will help them trim costs. But one important principle in the ICT industry is that a squeeze on spending breeds lots of opportunities for service providers.”
As one of those service providers, T-Systems has spread its target market from large corporates to include the public sector. In 2005, T-Systems set a target to ring up revenue of up to R1bn by 2010. Despite the squeeze on discretionary spending, it has managed to hit target two years ahead of time, increasing its revenue in the previous financial year to well over 50%.
Targeting the public sector was no stroke of luck. Van der Walt-Korsten says public sector spend on ICT services has in a way helped the company to strategically offset the effects of declining corporate spend on ICT services. Systems (the IT services arm of German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom), beat a host of male finalists to scoop the 2008 IT personality of the year award. The ceremony recognises an IT professional who has made significant contributions to the industry. That a woman trumped male finalists was a first in the industry.
For 45-year-old Van der Walt-Korsten – a clinical psychologist turned ICT manager – the accolade was simply the reward for a three-year turnaround strategy during which she managed to reposition T-Systems from a relatively obscure ICT multinational into a serious player in the industry in SA.
Her success came from her style of leadership, she says. “When I told my staff soon after taking over the reins at the company that I intended to create an IT company with a soul, some argued I couldn’t possibly put soul and IT in the same sentence. But we’ve done it.”
Her achievement – evident in T-Systems’ bottom line and its swelling portfolio of high value clients – hasn’t gone unnoticed. While the currently volatile financial situation has closed
Open mind. Mardia van der Walt-Korsten