SA women mak­ing it big in tech

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - BY JES­SICA HUB­BARD Forbes

Much has been writ­ten about the dearth of women in tech­nol­ogy-re­lated fields and in­dus­tries. The roles of coders, en­gi­neers, prod­uct de­sign­ers, soft­ware de­vel­op­ers and yes, CEOs, are usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with tit les pre­ceded by ‘ Mr’. Yet there are un­doubt­edly many women do­ing great things in tech in South Africa, carv­ing out their own paths and cre­at­ing cool stuff along the way.

Finweek caught up with a few of SA’s dy­namic fe­male techies and dig­i­tal pi­o­neers to find out more. AN­NETTE MULLER: EN­ABLING THE ‘COR­PO­RATES OF THE FU­TURE’ An­nette Muller i s the f ounder and CEO of DOTNXT, an African in­no­va­tion man­age­ment firm. Last year, she was recog­nised by as one of the ‘ 10 fe­male tech founders to watch in Africa’.

As Muller puts it, she is in­tent on “build­ing the cor­po­rate of the fu­ture”, and spends her time help­ing com­pa­nies to weave i nno­va­tion i nto their daily re­al­ity. She founded DOTNXT in 2011, and says the com­pany has evolved from be­ing a con­sult­ing firm to of­fer­ing re­search and strate­gic ad­vi­sory, tech­nol­ogy ex­e­cu­tion man­age­ment and SA’s first Sec­tor Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Author­ity ( SETA) ac­cred­ited I nno­va­tion Man­age­ment cor­po­rate train­ing course.

“We saw a gap [in com­pa­nies] be­tween strat­egy and ex­e­cu­tion, and be­gan to of­fer more hands-on, strate­gic pro­gramme man­age­ment,” she ex­plains. “We try to avoid the old-school ‘ Pow­er­Point’ way of do­ing things, and fo­cus on ag­ile de­liv­ery, pro­vid­ing al­ways-on, live mission man­age­ment and in­no­va­tive strate­gic tools. We are al­ways break­ing the tra­di­tional cor­po­rate rules!”

In Muller’s world, she says the only con­stant is that they’re con­tin­u­ally “do­ing stuff that’s never been done be­fore… so there is no right for­mula, just chal­lenges, and we love solv­ing com­plex chal­lenges”.

To stay i nspired, and keep f uelling t he in­no­va­tion that she be­lieves is so es­sen­tial to busi­ness suc­cess, Muller ad­mits that it takes “a lot of imag­i­na­tion”.

“I watch a lot of science-fic­tion movies,” she says. “But the key in­gre­di­ent is ob­vi­ously peo­ple. You need to sur­round your­self with peo­ple who have a sim­i­lar mind­set, who are in­quis­i­tive, off the beaten path.”

She adds: “We are run­ning the cor­po­rate of the fu­ture − con­stantly try­ing to cre­ate, ed­u­cate and im­prove − so you need to en­sure you have in­spired, prac­ti­cal and smart in­no­va­tors around you.”

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