IT personality, visionary CIOs of 2020 revealed

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Ntuthuko Shezi, founder and CEO of Livestock Wealth, is the 2020 IT Personality of the Year award winner.
Ntuthuko Shezi, founder and CEO of Livestock Wealth, is the 2020 IT Personality of the Year award winner.

Founder of livestock crowd farming platform Livestock Wealth, Ntuthuko Shezi,, has scooped the coveted 2020 IT Personality of the Year award; while Nomthi Nelwamondo, chief information officer (CIO) of Assupol; and Dr Stanley Mpofu, CIO of the University of the Witwatersrand, are the joint winners of the Visionary CIO of the Year award.

The winners were announced today during the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) President’s Awards held virtually.

The 2020 awards, which were delayed by COVID-19, were themed “Excellence in Adversity” and celebrate IT professionals who excelled during a particularly challenging year.

IITPSA CEO Tony Parry says IT professionals played a crucial role in minimising the impact of the lockdown, keeping public services running, enabling businesses to keep operating, and helping citizens to continue learning, working, transacting and communicating digitally.

Serial entrepreneur and innovator

For the prestigious IT Personality of the Year accolade,  presented by the IITPSA in association with ITWeb and the Gordon Institute of Business Science, Shezi competed with two worthy finalists: Lynette Hundermark, digital and mobile marketing guru and co-founder of mobile solutions consultancy Useful & Beautiful; and Karen Nadasen, CEO of PayU South Africa and chairperson of the E-commerce Forum of South Africa.

Shezi, a serial entrepreneur and innovator, was born in rural Ndwedwe, KwaZulu-Natal, and blazed the trail to become the first in his family to graduate at a university.

His latest venture, Livestock Wealth, is a simple method of investing in farming. It presents new investment opportunities for the South African market where users invest their money in agricultural assets as they grow on a farm rather than unit trusts and shares.

Through a Web and mobile application, potential investors can buy vegetable tunnel gardens, macadamia trees in orchards as well as cows online.

Shezi holds two patents, 12 trademarks and over 80 local and international domains.

In his acceptance speech, Shezi said: “I am so pleased about this award. I am totally honoured. I am pleased with the work that we have done in bringing agriculture to everyone. It’s been six years of hard work and it’s finally paying off; and the recognition from yourselves is a cherry on top. It makes all our sleepless nights worthwhile.

“My staff have carried the company so much; so thank you team; this is for you and the work that you are doing and the world is starting to see. Most importantly, my wife as well, who has had to put up with all my late nights.”

Visionary leadership

For the Visionary CIO 2020 award there was a tie between Wits University’s Mpofu and Assupol’s Nelwamondo.

The other finalists were Ashley Singh, CIO of Sanlam Corporate; Mervyn Goliath, managing executive of Data Networks at BCX; and Helen Constantinides, group CIO and exco member of AVBOB Mutual Assurance.

A high-performing and solutions-driven CIO with over seven years’ experience at executive level and 20 in ICT,  Nelwamondo is passionate about improving customer experience and interactions, using technology as an enabler for business as well as ultimately transforming lives through technology.

She joined Assupol in January 2019 to fulfil the role of CIO. Prior to joining Assupol, she was CIO of Liquid Telecom South Africa and previously fulfilled a divisional CIO role at Telkom.

Said Nelwamondo: “Mike Tyson one day said everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face. I think the pandemic did that to us. Fortunately, many of us were able to rise. Assupol’s IT team and its leadership were such a team. I receive this award humbly on their behalf. Thank you for the recognition and the nomination.”

Mpofu has a proven track record of excellent delivery in his 27-year career. He is described as an exec who copes well in difficult terrain and in situations where there is chaos that needs to be fixed. He has proven his abilities at Eskom Enterprises as well as at Wits University.

Within a short space of time, he has been able to transform Wits’s technology capability by positively influencing methods of learning, teaching and research. His concept of an implementation of the “Smart Classroom” gave Wits an advantage in its response to COVID-19 and the university adopted full online learning and teaching in less than a month under his stewardship.

“Firstly, I would want to appreciate the humbling experience of being nominated. I want to start by thanking my family, which is my wife and kids. I also want to thank my Wits ICT team, of which if it wasn’t for this team, there will be nothing I would have delivered or even have been nominated,” Mpofu said.

“I also want to thank the Wits leadership – the vice-chancellor, the chief operating officer and the deans who actually gave me the unwavering support during the 2020 period. Unfortunately, I am also going to thank someone who is no longer alive; that is my father. He never went to school but gave me the inspiration to work hard to where I am today,” he added.

More winners

Zandile Mkwanazi, GirlCode chairwoman. GirlCode won the IITPSA's Social Responsibility award for 2020.
Zandile Mkwanazi, GirlCode chairwoman. GirlCode won the IITPSA's Social Responsibility award for 2020.

The other winners of the day were Professor Andre Calitz, who was awarded the Distinguished Service in ICT Award. Calitz is a distinguished computer science professor from Nelson Mandela University.

The Technology Excellence Award went to Andre Jacobs, chief of product engineering at IoT.nxt.

The award recognises a person or team for exceptional / innovative use of information technology, or an innovative new technology for an organisation, which has exhibited technological excellence that has delivered measurable benefit for business and/or SA’s economy.’

Lastly, the Social Responsibility / Community Award 2020 went to GirlCode, a registered NPO aimed at empowering young girls and women through technology.

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