Jacques Barkhuizen: Disrupting the local market

Jacques Barkhuizen, CIO at Absa, won the IITPSA's Visionary CIO 2018 award.

Jacques Barkhuizen, CIO at Absa.
Jacques Barkhuizen, CIO at Absa.

Jacques Barkhuizen, CIO at Absa, responsible for virtual channels and digital banking, has a love of technology that goes back to when he was 12 years old. "I got a Commadore 64, and like most of us now in our '40s knocking on '50s, I fell in love. I loved the fact that a machine could interact with a human, and I enjoyed arcade games, and wrote a game with several friends."

Since then, he has had more than 28 years of experience in a variety of technical and leadership roles, including CIO for Deloitte Africa, global CTO for Investec Bank, and CTO for Woolworths SA. Barkhuizen has been involved in a variety of spheres, including retail, banking, capital markets, professional services, and digital.

For the past four years at Absa, formerly known as Barclays Africa Group, he has led the bank's digital transformation journey. His love of technology and his vision can be seen in the digital solutions he has delivered over the last two years, including Chatbanking on WhatsApp.

When he started at what was then Barclays, he found the bank had no digital ability at all, and everything was outsourced to India, and every digital artefact developed by them.

Barkhuizen's vision was to build a team in South Africa that would disrupt the South African market. "We tried, but we got blocked by Barclays and all its 'blue tape'. However, we raised the money to build an incubator in Cape Town called Aliens, which had the capability to hit anything we could think up out the ballpark, and do it with a hip and happening environment."

That was the beginning. During his time at the bank, he has led the digital transformation charge, and transformed the management of IT capabilities and services to support and enable the bank's mission and business goals.

He regularly attends the Stanford Business School and participates in the Global Chief Information Officer (CIO) Round Table, where he has been dubbed one of South Africa's disruptive IT leaders.

Visionary CIO winner and finalists

Barkhuizen was named the 2018 Visionary CIO at the at the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) President's Awards, held on 27 November in Sandton.

He competed against three other finalists:

Andre le Roux: Making a positive change
Kevin Wilson: A master 'Jack of all trades'
Warren Hero: Connecting people to things that matter

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