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Our interns reflect on the Women Tech & Digital conference recently held in Cape Town

In this picture: Felencia Lawrence, Atoofah Gierdien, Angezwa Gagayi, Dominique Goch, Ilse Kariem

The MOVING to MASTERY: WOMEN IN TECH & DIGITAL CONFERENCE was held on the 12th of June 2019 at the Belmont Square Conference Centre, Rondebosch, Cape Town.

This conference was organised by Lynette Hundermark, an IT entrepreneur and leading advocate for and enabler of the advancement of women in the ICT industry.

Lynette has been a CoLab partner for many years and we fully supported this great initiative that she recently launched.

The event, unusually, featured an all-female speaker lineup, including:

  • Comedian Mel Jones – MC and hostess

  • Anna Collard – Popcorn Training – a KnowBe4 company, founder and MD – Female entrepreneurship in Cyber Security

  • Aisha Pandor – SweepSouth co-founder and CEO – The journey from student/researcher to employee to entrepreneur and making the purpose-driven decision (as scary as it was!) to quit my job

  • Birgitta Cederstrom – VP Commercial Brand & Demand MEA MD B Incorporate, Frost & Sullivan – Demystifying AI, Machine Learning and other Tech Buzzwords

  • Barbara Mallinson – Obami founder and CEO – Oh, the lessons I’ve learned! My experiences as an entrepreneur in Africa

  • Jacqui Mackway-Wilson – Go Social SA founder – How to get the best out of social media for your business

  • Lorraine Steyn – KRS founder and CEO – Sustaining your leadership as an industry expert over the years – aka leading from the trenches

  • Lynette Hundermark – U&B co-founder and CPO – Integrating the Silos of Tech and Digital to create purposeful solutions

The event also features two panel discussions. The first, chaired by Cathryn Reece, product owner at Property24, covered wellness including sleep (and getting enough of it), stress, health/fitness, parenting and health trends/work wellness with sleep scientist Dr Dale Rae of the Sports Science Institute, LivFit founder Olivia du Plessis, and Business Insider editor Helena Wasserman.

The second was chaired by Samantha Perry – Women in Tech ZA co-founder – and delve into technology in action, particularly AI, Blockchain and Machine Learning, with Celina Lee (Co-Founder & CEO at Zindi Africa), Debra Roodt (CCO, Xago), Genevieve Mannel (Head of IT at Cipla), and Emma Kaye (Founder and CEO of Bozza).

The Event beneficiary was Sisters Incorporated, a safe house for abused women and children

In this picture:

(Back row) Natasha Katunga, Carlynn Pokpas,Dominique Goch,, Atoofah Gierdien, (Front row) Angezwa Gagayi , Ilse Kariem, Felencia Lawrence

Angezwa Gagayi, one of the interns in the Colab reflects below on her experiences of the event:

The Western Cape CoLab, where I’m an intern, gave the students (including myself) an opportunity to attend the Woman in Tech conference, I was firstly a bit nervous that the 2019 Woman in Tech conference, might not have a lot to offer me since it’s mostly tech leaders and industry professionals/experts.

Woman in Tech is an initiative that aims to address the gender gap in the technology and digital space.

Once we arrived, I was wrong for thinking it might not have a lot for me to learn because presentation topics/keynotes were extremely relevant to most careers and experience level.

Topics included: entrepreneurship; self-care/wellness; digital transformation; tech in action (artificial intelligence, machine learning and block chain); advanced digital marketing. The industry experts were sharing their insights and engaging conversations on the above topics.

I have learned that there is a huge gender imbalance on the tech sector and that even the woman who are on tech they had a very long and challenging journey for them to be where they are, they’ve shared their challenges with us. There are still major challenges to overcome in making sure that women are included in the change to a digital society.

Woman in Tech conference empowered, inspired and motivated me seeing that regardless of a personality I have but I can achieve my dreams (it developed me personally) more especially to the first keynote Anna Collard on tips of how to overcome weaknesses, lastly it has helped me to be ahead on industry trends and technical knowledge.

The Woman in Tech conference experience is one I would definitely recommend to my peers, because it is thought provoking and empowering.

One of our other interns, Atoofah Gierdien, won the event prize for being a prolific tweeter on Twitter while at the event!

Her reflections on the event are below:

There was a valuable lesson to learn from each speaker ranging, below are some highlights in my learning:

  • Females should explore entrepreneurship in Cyber security. The platform has immense potential to hone a variety of valuable skills.

  • There are many paths that lead to the same destination. Do not become fixated on one particular career or career path.

  • In tech & digital, we need to explore & leverage the new world of work and the new skills that accompanies it.

  • A successful career starts with health,wellness & fitness.

  • 5G has inherent potential to boost the South Africa digital economy & economy at large due to its increased bandwidth and introduction of new tech.

  • Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain & Machine Learning are at the forefront in the 4IR race.

  • Gender disparity in the workplace is a pressing issue,especially in STEM fields and it's paramount for women to collaborate with both men & other women (collective effort) to effect change & narrow the gender gap.

From my insights, I plan to explore more opportunities in Cyber security & 4IR. At the conference, it was mentioned that only "3% of the world's learning content is digitized" - Barbara Mallinson, Found of Obami. This inspired me to research more into these areas & contemplate designing an online course or even a workshop. Maybe it could be something I could co-design & co-create with the CoLab?

Furthermore, I'll include all my insights from the conference into my Future Tech Club and spread this knowledge to the youth, I love effecting positive change at a grassroots level.

Once again, thank you Dr. Craffert!

Warmest regards, Atoofah Gierdien

Here is some recent press coverage on the event.

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