Leading data and tech driven businesses

Event: Breakfast panel discussion hosted in collaboration with MTN Business.

Date: 18th March 2019

Location: South Africa

The panel breakfast discussion was hosted in collaboration with the business division of MTN, an emerging markets mobile telecommunications operator at the forefront of technological and digital changes. Its operations span across 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Zesulile Ngobese (WiBDSA), Ave Lotter (Senior Practice Director at Microsoft), Naomi Molefe (Chapter Lead), Louise Pinto (Chief Data Officer: Rest of Africa at ABSA Group), Abigail Britton (Data Science Lead at Ab InBev SA), Mariana Kruger (GM: Products and Solutions at MTN Business) and Johanna Thathaisa (WiBDSA)

The event was targeted at emerging female leaders working within the big data or analytics fields, with the goal of discussing triumphs, strategies and challenges that women continue to face in their respective careers, including the technical aspects of their roles and how they influence how they chose to lead. We were graced with a inter-generational panel where women with varying years of corporate experience shared their journeys with us.

The chairperson, Naomi Molefe, began the morning by presenting on Women in Big Data and our global affiliates.  She touched on how the South African chapter plans to approach sustainable partnerships and collaborations with the tech ecosystem to advance the achievement of sustainable development goals, particularly those targeted at the training and development of women and young girls in this 4IR climate.

Naomi Molefe

The panel was made up of experienced leaders from various sectors; telecommunications, technology company, financial services, the beverages and brewing industry. The anchor was Mariana Kruger – GM of Products and Solutions at MTN Business. Her fellow panelists included Ave Lotter – Senior Practice Director: Delivery at Microsoft SA, Louise Pinto – Chief Data Officer Rest of Africa at ABSA Group, and Abigail Britton – Data Science Lead at Ab inBev SA.

The panel gave us insights on the projects they are currently leading and how they compare with the rest of the world, how they approach being the only female in the room, and the different biases (conscious and unconscious) they continue to face. They shared wisdom on how to assert ourselves and present ideas that we share with colleagues without feeling like we are imposters in our roles—a symptom that most women holding-decision making roles experience.

This is was an exciting and fruitful engagement, and we hope that emerging female leaders can learn and apply the wisdom that was shared with us. We plan to host a series of such across-sector events once a quarter, where female leaders can come and address our community about how data and analytics are disrupting the way in which they solve problems their clients are facing.

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