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Prominent CIO Tshifhiwa Ramuthaga gets global honours

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Tshifhiwa Ramuthaga, group CIO of Barloworld.
Tshifhiwa Ramuthaga, group CIO of Barloworld.

Prominent South African chief information officer (CIO) Tshifhiwa Ramuthaga’s star continues to rise after getting global recognition.

Ramuthaga, who was named group CIO of Barloworld in December last year, made it into the Global CIO 100, 2021, a celebration of technology leaders showcasing excellence, resilience and innovation.

In SA, in 2014, she was named Visionary CIO of the Year by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals SA (IITPSA).

For her latest trophy, Ramuthaga says she was pleasantly surprised and truly humbled to see her name on this list, and she is grateful to those who nominated her and to the judges for selecting her.

“This award goes beyond me. This is an acknowledgment for my parents, family, my extended support system, teachers, lecturers and all the different leaders who gave me an opportunity and believed in my talent,” says Ramuthaga in an e-mail interview with ITWeb.

“This is an acknowledgment of the strides we have made within South Africa towards advancing women involvement in the technology space and this award is there to encourage that young girl who is growing up in a village, similar to my background.”

Inspiring the young ones

She notes the award is a message of hope to the young people that have to study hard through this pandemic without any access to technology or ability to study from home.

“It supports the cause that I love, of building communities and holding a mirror for the young ones to say, ‘You can do better than me’. The award represents the South African multinational that is playing in the global space. Equally importantly, it represents the entire Barloworld information technology team from the IT administrators to my IT executive leadership. Excellence is not an individual’s effort but a team sport.”

Quoting Sir Isaac Newton, she adds: “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

On how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the role of the CIO, Ramuthaga says: “The role of the CIO began shifting prior to the pandemic as technology was becoming more and more central to how businesses are run.”

She points out that the pandemic further elevated the role, as the CIO had to rise to meet the demands of business to work in a way that business may not have been designed to.

“The need to adapt the business offering and adjust the sails to respond to the impact of the pandemic on business operations and revenues required the CIOs to lift their heads above the clouds and show up as business leaders.

“Probably the most significant observation regarding the impact of the pandemic on the CIO role was that the adoption of cloud services has been accelerated. CIOs that were still considering cloud services had to now act in order to remain relevant and accessible to the customer and employee base. Companies that were already well along the way in their cloud services journeys had a distinct advantage and were in some cases able to adapt to the changing business models much quicker.”

She explains that these changes translate into the following: (a) CIOs have had to be at the centre of business transformation in a much stronger manner than any other point in the recent past; (b) the focus was on growth, not just cost optimisation – which is itself telling; and lastly, (c) rapid and instantaneous transition towards remote work to ensure employee safety, preservation of jobs and continued productivity.

“No CIO can ever achieve success by themselves; talented employees as well as strong strategic external partnerships will be an integral part of future success of the role. Creating the ideal match of digital and human engagement to deliver the best possible customer experience, which also delivers profitable results and achieves the right business outcomes means the CIO will have to have much stronger relationships with their fellow senior leadership team members,” she notes.

Serial winner

Ramuthaga has more than 20 years of experience in IT, with over 16 years as a CIO. “I am also a professional CIO registered with the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa, formerly the Computer Society of South Africa.

“In 2014, I won the South African Visionary CIO Award from the IITPSA, in association with ITWeb, GIBS and Gartner Africa for demonstrating visionary leadership in using technology to drive strategy and innovation in the organisation.”

She holds a Master of IT degree from the University of Pretoria, an MBA from GIBS/University of Pretoria, and is currently studying towards a Doctoral degree in Business Administration with GIBS.

“I have held senior leadership positions at several organisations in diverse industries such as government, telecommunications, banking and financial services regulatory, before joining Barloworld in 2017 as the CIO of Barloworld Logistics. I became the chief digital and information officer of Barloworld Automotive & Logistics before I was appointed group CIO of Barloworld in 2020,” she concludes.

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