IITPSA announces 2020’s leading lights at virtual President’s Awards event

The Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) capped an unusual year and its first ever virtual President’s Awards ceremony by naming joint winners of the Visionary CIO of the Year Award this week.

Dr Stanley Mpofu, CIO of the University of the Witwatersrand, and Nomthi Nelwamondo, CIO of Assupol, were jointly recognised as 2020’s Visionary CIO of the Year for their professionalism and excellence, particularly during the challenges of 2020.

Ntuthuko Shezi, serial entrepreneur and innovator, and founder of livestock investment platform Livestock Wealth, was named IT Personality of the Year for 2020. Girl Code, an NPO empowering young girls and women through technology, was named winner of the Social Responsibility/Community Award, and Andre Jacobs, Chief of Product Engineering at IoT.nxt, was winner of the Technology Excellence Award.

Prof. Andre Calitz, Distinguished Professor: Computer Science at Nelson Mandela University, received a Distinguished Service in ICT Award. This accolade is awarded jointly by EngineerIT and the IITPSA and recognises a significant, career length contribution to the ICT profession and / or the ICT Industry.

ICT kept things running during a year of adversity

IITPSA CEO Tony Parry noted that the manner in which the awards event was staged encapsulated much of what IT, business and society had experienced during 2020. “The year was unexpectedly challenging, and it forced us all to change the way we live and worked. We are proud to say that our members and ICT professionals across the country helped to minimise the impact of the pandemic and lockdown by deploying the solutions that kept public services running, allowed businesses to keep operating and helped keep millions of citizens safely at home while they continued with their daily lives.”

He applauded the IT profession for displaying excellence in the face of extreme adversity, and highlighted the silver linings amid the challenges of the lockdown. “For example, because this is a virtual awards event, we are able to welcome members and guests from across the country, and, indeed, outside of the country and continent, with no price for admission, no limits on seating and at no risk to anyone. This is just one example of how the pandemic forced a change in mindset and heralded the arrival of a new normal.”

IITPSA President and Board Chairperson Thabo Mashegoane noted that the pandemic and lockdowns of 2020 had highlighted the fact that ICT is critical for business and society now.  “The pandemic has proved that ICT is in fact critical infrastructure – as important as roads, sanitation and healthcare. As many of us experienced the myriad ways in which ICTs could make our lives safer, simpler and better during 2020, we also became painfully aware of how millions of our countrymen and women were not able to enjoy the benefits of remote work, home schooling, online shopping, digital public services and streamed entertainment,” he said. “We need to level the playing fields and ensure that ICTs, as critical infrastructure, are put into the hands of every South African so that everyone has equal access.”

Mashegoane said the ICT industry needed to work together with the public sector to create infrastructure and policies that give all communities and all South Africans equal access so that they too may benefit from information, education, opportunities and convenience. “This will help upskill our youth and grow small businesses. Ultimately, this will prove to be an investment in our economic growth,” he said.

 About the winners:

IT Personality of the Year

This award recognises a person who has made an outstanding impact on the SA ICT industry over the past year and a significant contribution to the IT profession.

Ntuthuko Shezi (Shezi) is an Electro-Mechanical Engineer and former strategy consultant at Accenture. He is an expert in business strategy, business planning and business model generation.

Born in rural Ndwedwe, KwaZulu Natal – he blazed the trail to become the first in his family tree to graduate at a university. He has always been an entrepreneur – seeking solutions to solve every-day problems. In his lifetime, he has started, failed and succeeded in at least 14 business ventures, ranging from printing T-Shirts in high school, to running an arcade video game business at the University of Cape Town and a Maths and Science Saturday School while at Accenture, to name a few.

Never the one to follow a beaten path, he revels in finding solutions where no answers exist. These include starting and running the first ever airport-based panel beating and spray painting business in the world – Scratch Mobile at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. The business recently celebrated 14 years of existence.

In 2015 CEO Magazine named him the South Africa, Regional and Continental Winner in the Titans – Building Nations Awards recognizing his work in the automotive sector.

His latest venture, Livestock Wealth, is a simple method of investing in farming. It presents new investment opportunities for the South African market where you invest your 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. Livestock Wealth has pioneered investment in cows since October 2015 and currently has assets valued at over R70 million on behalf of 3000+ local and international investors.

He holds two patents, 12 trademarks and over 80 local and international domains and has met two US Presidents.

Shezi is a Clinton Democracy Fellow (2005) and a Mandela Washington Fellow (2014). In 2013 he made the Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans list and the 2017 Young Independents.

Visionary CIO of the Year

This award recognises a personality on the other side of the IT vendor and service provider sector – an executive in the corporate IT environment who has demonstrated visionary leadership in applying technology to grow and transform business.

Dr Stanley Mpofu (an alumnus of the University of the Witwatersrand) is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the University. He is described as a disciplined, influential, ethical, and visionary IT executive with a proven track record of excellent delivery in his 27-year career. Dr. Mpofu has excelled 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.

He is the Chair of ASAUDIT- which is a board of CIOs from 26 government universities. Additionally, Dr. Mpofu is a board member of Tertiary Education & Research Network of South Africa (TENET), a member of the Ministerial Task Team for Higher Education established during COVID19 and a council member of a Higher Education Private College. Within Wits, Dr Mpofu is a member of various governance structures some of which he chairs.

Within a short space of time, he has been able to transform Wits’ technology capability by positively influencing methods of learning, teaching and research. His concept of the “Smart Classroom” was approved in 2018 and was combined with the University’s “Blended Learning” objective, the implementation of which gave Wits an advantage in their response to COVID19. Wits University adopted full online learning and teaching in less than a month under his stewardship. This resulted in Wits ICT being recognised by the University’s Senior Executive Team (SET) and the University Council as central to the successful learning and teaching, which continued seamlessly throughout the year 2020.

Nomthi Nelwamondo, CIO of Assupol, describes herself as an accomplished, high-performing and solutions driven CIO with over seven years’ experience at executive level and over twenty years’ experience in ICT. She is passionate about improving customer experiences and interactions by using technology as an enabler for business as well as ultimately transforming lives through technology.

Nelwamondo joined Assupol in January 2019 to fulfil the role of CIO. Prior to joining Assupol, she was the CIO of Liquid Telecom South Africa and she previously fulfilled a divisional CIO role at Telkom. Nelwamondo has held various diverse roles in senior management in IT, Telecommunication Core Networks, Network wholesale service operations and ISPs and holds a Bachelor in IT (Honours) – Multimedia University (MMU – Malaysia); Masters in IT  (University of Pretoria); Masters in Business Leadership (Unisa SBL) and also completed Global Executive Development with GIBS.

Technology Excellence Award

This recognises a person or team who has made exceptional / innovative use of information technology, or has designed an innovative new technology for an organisation and has exhibited technological excellence that has delivered measurable benefit for business and / or the SA economy.

André Jacobs is the Chief of Product Engineering at IoT.nxt where he is responsible for the company’s global software and hardware engineering.

He was one of the very first employees to join IoT.nxt in the early start-up phase when the company was established in late 2015. He is currently managing several teams across many disciplines, including but not limited to Business Analysis, Software Development, Quality Assurance, DevOps, AI/ML Engineering, and Security Testing and Engineering, responsible for developing a comprehensive IoT suite of software platforms and products, as well as all the hardware designs for proprietary hardware devices used in conjunction with the firm’s software products.

André has a solid background in software development and extensive product development knowledge and has worked closely with hundreds of businesses to design, develop and implement complex, enterprise mission critical software systems over the last 25 years.

He quickly established himself at C-level and for the last 14 years he has been key in driving company strategy and innovation. He has been a key member of several start-up businesses that have grown incredibly well, allowing three of these to be sold partially or fully to realise maximum value for the founding shareholders, each in 5 years or less.

In August 2019, less than 4 years after IoT.nxt was founded, Vodacom acquired a 51% stake in the business for R1 billion, of which R469 million was settled in cash, with the remainder being contingent on the future performance of the business.

Awards achieved with his current company, IoT.nxt:

Awarded with the coveted IoT.nxt Executive Darth Vader award in 2020. Recognized by IoT.nxt’s CEO, Nico Steyn, for his “resolve to get the job done, a team player, an amazing leader, and visionary.”

Top Technology 100 finalist in 2020 in the following categories: Excellence in Management of Systems, Management of Innovation, Management of People, and Sustainability.

Winner Top Technology 100 Award for Excellence in the Management of Technology 2019.

Top Technology 100 finalist in 2019 in the following categories: Excellence in Management of Systems, Management of Innovation, Management of People, Sustainability, Best Innovation Concept: SDDI, Best Innovation Concept: Entity Model, and Department of Science and Technology Minister Award for Overall Excellence.

Microsoft South African Partner of the year award 2019.

Gartner notable vendor list for Industrial IoT 2019.

Special Jedi Award for best IoT.nxt employee of the year 2018.

MTN Business – Mind2Machine Best Commercial IoT Solution 2017.

MTN Business – Mind2Machine overall winner 2017.

Top Technology 100 Finalist for Management of innovation 2016.

Gartner Aspiring Innovator 2016.

Social Responsibility/Community Award

This award recognises a person, team or project delivering the benefits of IT on a not-for-profit basis into the community/or bringing the community into the IT space (addressing the digital divide).

GirlCode is a registered Non-Profit Organisation (158-642) aimed at empowering young girls and women through technology. Established in 2014 and a Level 1 BBBEE contributor, GirlCode believes that the more women get involved with technology, design, development and leadership, the more successful and diverse companies and their products will be in the future.

Among its initiatives are the GirlCoder club – a nationwide network of free, volunteer-led, weekend coding clubs designed for primary and high school girls interested in pursuing STEM related careers. They host Career days for the girls, by taking them to different tech companies to give them access to mentors and career advice.

GirlCode Hackathon is an annual event hosted on the first weekend of August, in commemoration of Women’s month. It is an event where computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects with a specific goal. Companies come on board as sponsors with the intent to recruit the participants into their graduate programs.

The GirlCoder Workshops are a 9-month weekend, hands on and in-person coding classes that teach women who are interested in learning how to become software developers. Top performing participants receive a one week internship with local tech companies to gain valuable work experience.

Online Coding Bootcamp is an accredited coding programme that allows anyone interested in learning how to code to do it online where GirlCode offers various tracks from Introduction to Cloud to Data Science.


Distinguished Service in ICT Award

The Distinguished Service in ICT Award recognises a significant, career length contribution to the ICT profession and / or the ICT Industry.

Prof. Andre Calitz is a Distinguished Professor: Computer Science at Nelson Mandela University.

Prof Calitz, who specialises in business intelligence, user experience, big data and project management, had the prestigious title of Distinguished Professor conferred on him by NMU earlier this year. This elevated status is accorded in recognition of dedication and commitment to a field of expertise.

Prof Calitz, who is also President of the Southern African Computer Lecturers’ Association (SACLA), has been a member of the IITPSA for nearly 40 years. He is a Professional Member and a Fellow of IITPSA, a Past Chapter Chairman of the Eastern Cape Chapter, and still serves on the Eastern Cape Chapter Committee.  He holds two Doctoral degrees (PhD and DBA).