CIO Zone

2018 IT Personality, Visionary CIO finalists named

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IITPSA president Ulandi Exner.
IITPSA president Ulandi Exner.

The Institute of Information Technology Professionals SA (IITPSA) has named the finalists for its 2018 President's Awards, including the prestigious IT Personality and Visionary CIO of the Year Awards and two new accolades (Technology Excellence Award and Social Responsibility/Community Award).

Now in their 40th year, the IITPSA President's Awards recognise professionalism and excellence in the South African ICT sector.

"This year's finalists are of the usual high calibre we see among the IITPSA President's Awards finalists; and with the addition of the two new awards categories, we have broadened the field to include innovators and industry leaders in sectors we have not previously recognised," says IITPSA president Ulandi Exner.

IT Personality

The IT Personality Award recognises an outstanding ICT professional who has made a significant technical or academic contribution to the industry. The nominees are:

Brett St Clair, CEO and co-owner of Siatik, Google's largest cloud partner in Africa. St Clair was previously managing director of Admob and ran Google's mobile business and African Cloud Business, and served as head of digital at YouTube. He has lived and worked in 32 countries and is a well-known keynote speaker on digital business.

Nico Steyn, CEO and co-founder of IoT.nxt. Steyn's 30-year IT career included founding a number of technology companies, including one now listed on the JSE. IoT.nxt, established in 2016, now has over 100 staff and offices in SA, the Netherlands and the US.

Teddy Daka, group CEO and major shareholder of Etion. He turned the company from a loss-making engineering firm to a profitable digital technology business. A global businessman, academic and philanthropist, Daka also founded Tedaka Investments and serves as global chairman of Aurecon. He holds a Masters in Business Administration, BA in Business Management (Honours) and is studying for his PhD.

James Grcic, MD of CSSI and CEO of SkyClass Aviation. Owner of multimillion-dollar international data recovery firm Computer Storage Services (CSSI) Africa since his 20s, Grcic went on to co-found CipherWave and acquired the floundering SkyClass Aviation in 2009, turning it into a profitable charter aviation business.

Charmaine Houvet, public policy director of Africa at Cisco. Houvet holds an MBA and BA degree, and has several years' experience as a senior executive in leading ICT companies. Named a Top Woman in ICT in 2016 and winner of the MTN Ministerial Recognition Award for advancing the ICT industry, Houvet is passionate about transformation of the ICT sector, and women and community empowerment. She serves on the advisory boards of the Global Broadband Plan for Refugees project of the UNHCR and Girlcodeza, and is a trustee of the Cisco Charitable Trust Board.

Quintus Moolman, regional manager for sales and solutions at Dimension Data Eastern Cape. Moolman has been an active growth contributor in two different roles within Dimension Data for the past 18 years, among other things by conceptualising a business-focused ICT event called "Accelerate"; a first of its kind in the region.

Visionary CIO

The Visionary CIO Award honours a CIO who has demonstrated visionary leadership in using IT to support, grow and transform business. The finalists are:

Jacques Barkhuizen, Absa CIO for virtual channels/digital banking. Barkhuizen's career of over 28 years includes serving as CIO of Deloitte Africa, global CTO of Investec Bank and CTO of Woolworths. He currently leads the Absa retail digital transformation journey and has been instrumental in the step change across all digital channels in the past three years, including the world-first chat banking on WhatsApp.

Andre Le Roux, director of enterprise infrastructure services at the University of Cape Town and IITPSA Western Cape deputy chairperson. With a 15-year background in electronics and 21 years' experience in the ICT sector, Le Roux has a wealth of practical, managerial and strategic experience. He has presented at several conferences on cloud computing, e-research and cyber security, and is taking a postgraduate course leading to an MSc in information security through the Royal Holloway University of London.

Kevin Wilson, GM of group IT services at Stefanutti Stocks. With over 25 years' experience in the ICT sector, Wilson has served as a network engineer at Unisys, manager at CS Holdings and project manager at BB&D and Hyperion. He uses IT innovation to innovate in the construction sector, with a focus on developing in-house competencies to deliver business efficiency.

Warren Hero, CDO/CIO of Webber Wentzel. Hero's 20-year ICT career includes establishing and managing call centres for several companies, serving as head of telephone and Internet banking at Absa, working for EDS, Nedbank and FNB, and heading the electronic governance division at the Gauteng Provincial Government. He chairs the SAP SA CRM User Group, and mentors young leaders through the GIBS women's development programme, Imbokodo.

Technology Excellence

The Technology Excellence Award will be presented to a person or team who has made exceptional or innovative use of technology for an organisation, or who has exhibited technological excellence that delivered measurable benefit for business or the economy. The finalists are:

Jacques Ludik, CEO and founder of Cortex Logic and founder of the Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA). Holding a PhD in Computer Science and over 25 years' experience in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, Ludik is a serial smart technology entrepreneur. He founded Bennit.AI, Mosaic, SynerG and CSense Systems, served as VP data science and chief data officer of Jumo, and director and big data and analytics leader at General Electric, and senior lecturer and researcher at Stellenbosch University.

Benji Coetzee, founder of EmptyTrips. A Forbes 2018 top female-led technologist, Coetzee launched EmptyTrips in 2017, using AI, network strategies and shared economy principles to pair cargo with empty spaces, democratise freight transport across road, rail, air and sea, and improve profits and contribute to saving the planet. She holds two Masters degrees, and has worked for the Boston Consulting Group and the World Economic Forum.

SA Reserve Bank (SARB) Project Khokha. Project Khokha was delivered by a collaborative team led by the SARB, consisting of seven South African settlement banks (Absa, Capitec, Discovery Bank, FirstRand, Investec, Nedbank and Standard Bank) as well as technical (ConsenSys) and support (PwC) partners. The goal of phase one was to build a proof-of-concept wholesale payment system for interbank settlement using a tokenised South African rand on Quorum, a permissioned distributed ledger technology.

Meerkat Wide Area Surveillance System (Kruger National Park). This project, developed in a partnership between SANParks, Peace Parks Foundation and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, supports anti-poaching efforts by spotting and tracking poachers over many kilometres (day or night). The system distinguishes poachers from animals and has led to a significant reduction in poaching incidents.

First National Bank 'Switch with a Selfie' account innovation. FNB's innovation allows customers to open bank accounts using facial biometrics; a first in SA. The solution incorporates mobile camera and GPS capabilities integrated into trusted third-party sources, such as the Department of Home Affairs, to authenticate clients. The solution aims to create a frictionless sales onboarding experience and allows customers to open an account in an average time of seven minutes.

Social Responsibility/Community Award

The Social Responsibility/Community Award will be presented to a person, team or project that delivers the benefits of IT on a not-for-profit basis into the community or brings the community into the IT space. The nominees are:

Africa Teen Geeks (Lindiwe Matlali). Africa Teen Geeks is an NGO that teaches youths to code. Matlali, winner of numerous visionary and women in tech awards, is studying towards her MS in Technology Management from Columbia University in New York, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Stanford University.

Project Isizwe (Dudu Mkhwanazi). Project Isizwe is a non-profit that partners with public and private sector organisations to deploy free WiFi hotspots in low-income communities. The organisation pioneered the deployment of the largest free public WiFi network in Africa in Tshwane and connected two mining communities to free WiFi in partnership with Glencore Mine in Emalahleni.

Welgevonden Game Reserve (Francois Spruyt). Welgevonden Game Reserve is a 'living laboratory' for innovation in conservation and wildlife management, collaborating with businesses such as IBM and MTN, and institutions such as Wageningen University in the Netherlands to deploy new technologies for conservation. Chairman of the board Francois Spruyt is a 27-year veteran of the ICT sector.

The winners will be named at a gala dinner in Johannesburg on 27 November.

"This event has become the industry's premier end of year networking function, where the sector's leading players gather to network, celebrate and congratulate the winners," says Exner.

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