ITA elects new executive management team
Following a successful period of growth and influence in the ICT sector, the Information Technology Association of SA (ITA) has elected a new management team to build on the successes of its predecessors. The team was elected at the association's recent annual general meeting, held on 4 April 2019 in Johannesburg.
Thabo Mofokeng, owner of technology consulting firm Solario Technologies, was elected president of the ITA. Mofokeng has served as the ITA's vice-president to outgoing president Sunil Geness, and has played an influential role in the organisation's success.
Mofokeng has worked in engineering, technology management, project management and programme supervision, in broadband optical wireless and wireline telecommunications services, broadcasting services and information technology industries, in national, provincial, municipal and local government spheres.
In recent years, he has worked as a management consultant, leading projects for organisations such as Sentech, the Gauteng Broadband Network, the SABC, Universal Service and Access Agency of SA, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, Telkom, Eskom, the Southern African Music Rights Organisation, and the Department of Communications.
Mofokeng has played significant and leading roles in the industry as a professional engineer, project manager, technology consultant, business entrepreneur and management consultant for a variety of projects within the public and private corporations.
"My focus will be on assisting the ITA to play a significant role in the digital economy, encourage inclusive ICT skills development, and provide a platform for policy engagement on matters affecting our members and the ICT industry at large," Mofokeng said soon after his election.
"Ultimately, we aim to cement the position of the ITA as the industry thought leader for the future of technology, industrial revolution and skills development, and to build on the legacy of achievements of the outgoing president, Sunil Geness," Mofokeng added.
Mofokeng is a professional engineer, registered with the Engineering Council of SA (he has been a member since 1998). He is also a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (he has been a member since 1991). He obtained his BSc in electrical engineering from Howard University in Washington DC, USA in December 1992.
Ahmed Ismael Smiley, Charmaine Houvet and Dr Nik Eberl were elected vice-presidents of ITA. The three of them will support Mofokeng in the organisation's mission to further grow its influence in the sector.
Andr'ea Campbell was elected honorary treasurer. Campbell is the commercial attorney and government affairs liaison for Microsoft Corporate, and executive and legal affairs for Middle East and Africa. She holds a bachelor of laws (LLB: Law) degree from the University of Pretoria, as well as a postgraduate diploma in financial planning law from the University of the Free State. Campbell is an admitted Attorney of the High Court of SA, a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Planning Institute of SA where she gives of her time pro bono. Campbell joined Microsoft in 2018 and has in excess of 12 years' experience in corporate law, financial services, investment banking and ICT.
Ahmed Ismael Smiley, community activist, social entrepreneur, Ashoka Fellow with over 40 years' experience, and the founding director of Siyafunda Community Technology Centre was elected as one of three vice-presidents of ITA. With a vision to empower, educate and e-connect communities, and make computer literacy available to everyone, Smiley opened the first Siyafunda Community Technology Centre in Palm Ridge in 2006.
The first centre, a community public-private partnership, established the model for the now more than 200 community centres nationally which have helped unlock people's potential for creativity and productivity.
Charmaine Houvet has more than 20 years' telecommunications experience, working with private and public sector organisations across Africa. She joined Cisco in March 2016 with several years' experience as a senior executive in diverse and transformative roles with high-profile leading ICT companies.
She currently serves on the advisory board of the Global Broadband Plan for Refugees Project to meet the broadband connectivity goal set by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Houvet serves on the Cisco local board and the charitable trust board headquartered in San Jose. She has also recently been appointed to President Cyril Ramaphosa's Presidential Commission on 4IR.
Dr Nik Eberl (as he is internationally known) holds a PhD from the Free University of Berlin, Germany and a postgraduate diploma from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, and has appeared extensively in mainstream media.
Eberl is founder and executive chair of the Future Leadership Forum and has interviewed 100 Global CEOs on the Future of Humanity and Leadership (www.thefutureleadership.com). He addressed the international media at the Global Leaders' Summit, sharing the platform with renowned leadership gurus such as Tom Peters, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Porter, to name a few.
The ITA's new management team will look to consolidate the organisation's respected position in the ICT industry. Under the leadership of outgoing chairperson Geness, the ITA has been revived. It has become a financially stable organisation again, through various initiatives and through attracting the support of prominent new members.
Geness is widely recognised for having repositioned the organisation with the South African government; African governments; the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority; Business Unity SA; the Black Business Council, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry and global organisations such as the BRICS Business Council, the Africa ICT Alliance, the World Information Technology and Services Alliance, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), other United Nations organisations, the African Development Bank and the African Union.
During Geness's presidency, the ITA was also able to conclude a landmark historical agreement with the Gauteng provincial government, affording ITA members unique opportunities to collaborate in respect of specific programmes, activities, projects and/or events supporting the province's ICT agenda.
Geness and outgoing honorary treasurer Dr Kenny Moodley have together been instrumental in initiating the Future of Technology Conference, which proved to be resounding success in 2018. The ITA's new management team will also now be able to benefit from a closer working relationship between government and the ICT industry that Geness and his management team have nurtured.
"When I look back at my time as honorary treasurer nearly two years ago, it was a sudden request," said Dr Moodley. "The ITA was financially challenged in terms of balancing the income generated through membership fees and conferences, and maintaining a healthy balance sheet. It was an organisation with serious cash-flow issues. The two-pronged strategy that the outgoing president Sunil Geness and I implemented was aimed at making better use our membership contributions and reducing costs."
Moodley, an Eskom Holdings representative, is now employed at Retail Business Banking SA, Absa Group.
"I am pleased to leave the position on a high note. We've turned around a financially challenged business and set in motion a new dimension of thinking that is geared towards creating value for our members and realising the mission of the ITA, which is to serve the ICT community, and in turn contributing to the economic growth of SA and developing sustainable ICT skills.
"The strategy adopted has meant that the ITA is now out of its financial challenges and on a healthy footing. We've introduced some new thinking into how a non-profit organisation is run, reducing operating costs and creating value for its members," Dr Moodley added.
"The Future of Technology conference is a shining example of what the ITA is capable of doing, by leading the way in future thinking digitally, and preparing the country for the fourth industrial revolution."
Geness reflected on his tenure as ITA chairperson with fondness and satisfaction. "The ITA has made immense strides over the past few years and has emerged as an authoritative voice in the ICT sector. The organisation has grown in stature, adding value to its members and leading the growth and preparations for SA to benefit from the fourth industrial revolution.
"I congratulate the new management team of the ITA and entrust to them the vision and mission of the ITA to bring about real change in the ICT sector by providing opportunities for growth, learning and skills development in the years to come," Geness concluded.
For more information, visit: www.ita.org.za.