Over the years the search for the industry`s most outstanding achiever has been a daunting task for judges and the industry at large, given the great spectrum of talent within the sector.
The judging process starts with online nominations and voting, and has attracted industry-wide participation.
This year again it has resulted in an impressive list of nominated candidates.
The IT Personality of the Year award goes to the individual who has made the most exceptional contribution to the industry in the current year.
Past winners include Mthunzi Mdwaba, then executive chairman of Torque-IT, in 2004, and Dali Mpofu, then the chairman of the ICT Charter Empowerment Working Group, in 2003.
The CSSA, ITWeb, GIBS and Gartner Africa will also present the ICT Leadership Award - for exceptional leadership qualities and contribution to the growth of the South African IT industry over a number of years.
Past winners of this special award established in 2002 have been Andile Ngcaba in 2002, Alewyn Burger in 2003 and Ken Jarvis in 2004. The winners of the IT Personality and Leadership awards are selected from the same group of finalists.
This year`s finalists are the epitome of excellence in their respective fields, but all feel that something must be done to enhance skills locally.
Kobus van Wyk, Khanya project manager in the Western Cape says that education in South Africa is in a crisis. He says that in order to fill the skills gap that has befallen the industry, technology has to become a part of the education system. His dream is to see technology enhancing the delivery of education in SA.
Barry Dwolatzky, professor of Software Engineering at Wits University, thinks that the country needs to change its attitude towards IT practitioners leaving SA to go work elsewhere: he says rather than bemoaning the brain drain, industry needs to come up with ways in which to keep the youth excited about innovation in SA.
Basie von Solms, professor at the Academy for Information Technology at the University of Joburg, agrees, adding that industry is cannibalising its own resources. "Industry is not allowing students to further their studies and become even more of a resource. Companies are snapping up these youngsters before they even complete their honours degrees."
Masedi Molosiwa, who heads up the Cape IT Initiative (CITI), says a body needs to be formed, which will assist to bridge a gap between what skills are needed in the industry and what academic courses are being offered at institutions.
Ntsundeni Madzunya, chief information officer at the South African Post Office (SAPO), is actively involved in increasing the quality of IT practitioners through on-the-job training. He has been involved in training IT professionals in conjunction with Isett Seta and Wits Technikon.
Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe, CEO of HP SA, has a holistic view on the issue: "We recognise that financial capital alone is not the greatest wealth we can bring to developing the country; it is human capital, experience and knowledge and the ability to use those.
Prof SH (Basie) von Solms PhD, FCCSA, MBCS, CITP
Head of department: Academy of Information Technology - University of Johannesburg
His 35-year career in IT has spanned the academic, industry and technical dimensions of the IT industry. Having been the HOD since 1978, Von Solms has managed to have the academy accredited by the British Computer Society. This took many years, and was only formally completed in 2005.
This accreditation puts the four-year B.Sc. (IT) course on a par with the best in the world. "My academy is the only such accredited institute in Africa, and only one of three outside of UK.
The creator of an array of information security courses being offered by SA universities, Von Solms has made great strides towards ensuring that SA gets all the warranted recognition at an international level for its research work in information security.
In an effort to keep on a par with the development of ICT in SA and how it is adapted to suit our environment, Von Solms has been consulting in many different industries over the years.
CIO and head of SAPO Enterprise, South African Post office
He launched IBM`s BEE partner programme, Andisa and was executive director, technology (IT, telecoms and broadcasting) during Cape Town`s Olympic bid. South Africa was short-listed based on its technical preparedness.
As CIO of SAPO he has made vast contributions towards developing its biometric payment system, upgrading its banking system, its electronic bulk mail delivery note system and the electronic bill presentment and payment system.
Ntsundeni also heads up SAPO`s technology infrastructure consolidation programme that has recently been modernised, consolidating its host environment and upgraded its disk storage.
Executive director - Cape IT Initiative (CITI)
The Cape IT Initiative is a cluster development agency focused on developing the ICT Industry in the Western Cape. Masedi has focused on driving the initiative to promote Cape Town and South Africa as a global IT hub and gateway into Africa.
He has been responsible for providing leadership and reporting to the board as well as implementing and developing strategy. Masedi has ensured the membership of CITI continues to grow and that the initiative remains self-sustainable.
Masedi has recently been re-elected as co-chairman of the Internet service providers Association. He is also nonexecutive director of Exhibitions for Africa and Cycan. He is passionate about using every contact he has to develop and further the opportunities for local ICT business.
Masedi has thrown his support behind a number of community initiatives. Through the Bandwidth Barn, he has facilitated the launch of conservation initiatives such as PoloAndFriends - an organisation that aims to empower and educate the community on how to become actively involved in sustainable conservation projects.
Most notably, Masedi has also significantly contributed to the ICT Charter.
Kobus van Wyk
Khanya programme manager, Western Cape Education Department
Involved in the IT profession for 23 years, Kobus van Wyk was an integral part of the formation of the Khanya project, which aims to fill the gaps left by the absence of qualified educators to give learners the opportunity to receive a high quality of education.
Khanya has grown from an ambitious idea into a respected and internationally recognised project. The project was a mere concept when Kobus was appointed programme manager in 2001. He developed and presented the business plan to the Provincial Cabinet of Western Cape, which accepted it. Since then the project started in earnest, and over the past four-and-a-half years has grown to a team of 70 professionals with many partners, and went on to achieve great success.
The success of Khanya lies not so much in the 400 schools that have been helped to build computer facilities, or the 13 000 PCs that were deployed, or the 10 000 educators that have been trained, but rather in the 340 000 learners who are assisted by the use of technology to improve in maths, science and other school subjects.
Professor of Software Engineering, School of Electrical and Information Engineering - Wits University
"I believe that software developers in SA can compete with the best in the world, but that we need to adopt best international practices in software engineering, and develop high-level skills. With this in mind, I have educated, innovated, written, researched and advocated."
Barry Dwolatzky was one of the first SA academics to introduce Object Orientation into the engineering curriculum in the early 1990s. He also developed the `information engineering` degree in the Wits School of Electrical and Information engineering.
This was the first such programme to receive full professional accreditation in 2002 from the Engineering Council of SA (ECSA).
Dwolatzky has been the driving force behind the establishment of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits. This is a partnership to support growth of software engineering best practice and capacity building. Its partners include the City of Joburg, the Meraka Institute and about 20 companies.
Thoko Mokgosi Mwantembe
CEO – HP
Thoko is the first black woman to be appointed local head of a US-based technology multinational.
Since joining HP SA as CEO in October 2004, she has played an active and integral role in developing and implementing HP SA`s broad-based empowerment strategy.
Her experience in IT includes her being the sales and marketing director at Lucent Technologies, a divisional managing director at Siemens Telecommunications and also the chief executive officer of Alcatel SA.
"I believe I have strong leadership qualities and make an impact on my peers through my passion for our business and life in general. I try to lead by example and my team knows that the dedication and quality of work that we deliver at HP projects onto our customers, which in turn reflects a better bottom line for HP," says Mokgosi-Mwantembe.
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