Absa's Jacques Barkhuizen is the Visionary CIO 2018

Jacques Barkhuizen, Absa chief information officer for virtual channels/digital banking, is the 2018 Visionary CIO.
Jacques Barkhuizen, Absa chief information officer for virtual channels/digital banking, is the 2018 Visionary CIO.

Jacques Barkhuizen, Absa chief information officer (CIO) for virtual channels/digital banking, has won the prestigious IITPSA Visionary CIO award for 2018.

His win was announced tonight at the Institute of Information Technology Professionals SA (IITPSA) President's Awards, held in Sandton.

Now in its 11th year, the Visionary CIO Award honours a CIO who has demonstrated visionary leadership in using IT to support, grow and transform business. The award is presented by the IITPSA, in association with ITWeb, the Gordon Institute of Business Science, and Gartner Africa.

Innovative ideas

Accepting his award, Barkhuizen said: "Wow what a way to end 2018.

"I am extremely honoured and humbled to be receiving such a prestigious award tonight. I am truly grateful for the recognition received here tonight and I am sure that every other nominee for this award was as capable, if not more, of winning this award. Well done for being nominated.

"As CIOs, we can all come up with innovative ideas, but ideas will remain ideas without a capable team to bring these ideas to life; so tonight I want to dedicate my award to my amazing team, first of all, for putting up with me and, secondly, for bringing all my crazy ideas to life.

"From chat banking on WhatsApp, a global first, delivering full-blown banking services on WhatsApp, to our latest brainchild - using artificial intelligence to switch bank accounts, which will be launched over the next few days and will be another first globally.

"Big shout out to the Absa executive leadership team for allowing me to break the rules every now and again with my crazy ideas. Winning this award would not have been possible without the inspiration, love and support I have received from my family, special thanks you to my wife Kirsty and my son Luke.

"Last but not least, I would like to thank the Institute of Information Technology Professionals and the judges for an amazing evening and for selecting me as the winner in this category."

The disruptor

With more than 28 years' experience, Barkhuizen has served in a variety of technical and leadership roles, including CIO for Deloitte Africa, Global CTO for Investec Bank, CTO for Woolworths SA, and worked across retail, banking, capital markets, professional services and digital, to name a few.

When he joined the then Barclays, he set out to build a team that would disrupt the South African financial market.

He leads the digital transformation journey of ABSA's retail banking and has been instrumental in the steep change experienced across the bank's digital channels over the last three years. His vision is evident in solutions his team has delivered, with the latest being Chatbanking on Whatsapp, which he says is a world first.

Tough competition

In over a decade of its existence, SA's top accolade for people who drive tech investment, implementation and innovation in their organisations has seen Sello Mmakau, Tshifhiwa Ramuthaga, Peter Alkema and Alec Joannou among the winners.

This year Barkhuizen competed against three other top IT execs:

o Andre Le Roux, director of enterprise infrastructure services at the University of Cape Townand IITPSA Western Cape deputy chairperson

o Kevin Wilson, GM of group IT services at Stefanutti Stocks

o Warren Hero, CDO/CIO of Webber Wentzel

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