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What IT can do for SA

For this year’s IT Personality and Visionary CIO finalists, it’s about people, and taking a longer-term view.

BY  JAIN GREY , 3 January 20120 comments

Greg Reis, Business Systems Group| photos: Suzanne Gellphotos: Suzanne GellGreg Reis, Business Systems Group

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Solving business problems, improving people’s lives and addressing the country’s challenges – this year’s IT Personality finalists share a clear vision of their own as well as the industry’s role in South African society.


Darlene Menzies, managing owner, The Development House

Darlene Menzies is a social entrepreneur who is inspired and committed to improving the lives of disadvantaged South Africans through technology.

She is energetic, visionary and a problem-solver, a forerunner in the promotion and linkage of ICT systems in the NGO sector and social services programmes in the public sector to drive social change.

Darlene Menzies, The Development HouseDarlene Menzies, The Development House

She grew the Durban-based company from scratch to one that provides software solutions relevant to emerging markets. She developed a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution for the SME sector, and has been internationally recognised for her work.

Mteto Nyati, MD, Microsoft SA

Mteto Nyati is deeply strategic in his leveraging of the Microsoft brand. His five priorities are growth, satisfaction, relevance, people and compliance.

Nyati advocates the use of technology to address government’s service delivery challenges, improve educational outcomes, and make businesses more productive.

Mteto Nyati, MicrosoftMteto Nyati, Microsoft

He believes the local ICT industry must provide solutions that address the challenges facing South Africa.

He has been the driving force behind Microsoft’s black empowerment programme, which will see R500 million invested in small, black-owned software companies over the next seven years.


Sean O’Connell, CEO, Airborne Consulting

Sean O’Connell started Airborne in 2004 and grew it to become a world-class provider of custom-developed software solutions and IT consulting in the Western Cape, employing 90 people.

Sean O’Connell, Airborne ConsultingSean O’Connell, Airborne Consulting

O’Connell has a hands-on management approach that motivates his staff – everyone gets a say and input is valued. He is admired for his fairness, energy and enthusiasm, combined with deep industry experience and wisdom.

He’d like to see government, academia, big business and IT focus on making SA the best IT destination in the world.

Greg Reis, CEO and founder, Business Systems Group

Visionary thinker and detail-oriented executor, Greg Reis believes accelerated performance can be unlocked for every organisation – using the technology that works for them.

Asher Bohbot, EOHAsher Bohbot, EOH

This philosophy helped Reis grow BSG over the past 15 years, expanding to the UK and Australia.

He is passionate about people and our planet, and proud of BSG’s record as one of the best companies to work for in SA.

A leader with an enormous social conscience, he’d like the local IT industry to join forces to ensure each child in SA receives an education.

Agents of strategic change

The 2011 top five Visionary CIO Award finalists drive a common message: it’s about the business and the people, not about technology.

Sandie Macfie, Southern Sun HotelsSandie Macfie, Southern Sun Hotels

Andrew Brauer, CIO and CTO, Business Connexion

A cutting-edge thinker, Andy Brauer researches and introduces new technologies to create business value. He measures his personal success through implementing appropriate solutions.

Brauer is experienced in almost any technology in the ICT arena – from telecoms to cloud computing – and has strong views on the role of IT in business and society.

He’d like to see improvements in our education system so that South Africa’s IT sector can compete on a global level.

Rubens da Silva, Johannesburg WaterRubens da Silva, Johannesburg Water

Bradley Coward, Group CIO, Sappi

Bradley Coward is a multidisciplinary thinker with an ability to generate visionary plans.

Coward believes IT value can be delivered through governance excellence.

However, to achieve success, it’s important that the CIO and the CEO work closely together.

His interest in governance and innovation led to his involvement with the King III Code of Corporate Governance, where he was instrumental in developing the IT governance chapter.

Mayan Mathen, Dimension Data MEAMayan Mathen, Dimension Data MEA

Rubens da Silva, CIO, Johannesburg Water

Having worked in Brazil, the Netherlands and now South Africa, Rubens da Silva has developed a broad perspective on business and technology.

He is committed to large-scale upgrading but is also able to focus on small tasks. His SAP implementation at Johannesburg Water resulted in improved efficiencies and significant savings.

He wants to see technology incorporated into education and more people to be aware of the power of IT.

Andrew Brauer, Business ConnexionAndrew Brauer, Business Connexion

Sandi Macfie, CIO, Southern Sun Hotels

Sandi Macfie is passionate about business, people and innovation. She believes IT can transform organisations, something she has demonstrated at Southern Sun Hotels.

She actively seeks technology solutions that support and enable the company’s vision. Her portfolio recently expanded beyond IT to include management of strategic business projects.

Macfie believes IT is about using technology to make a difference to people’s lives – be it employees, guests or customers.

Bradley Coward, SappiBradley Coward, Sappi

Mayan Mathen, CTO, Dimension Data Middle East & Africa

Always a technologist, Mayan Mathen has also become ‘a people person’, focussed on the user and the role of technology in emerging markets.

As CTO, Mathen is responsible for technology strategy, alliances and solutions management.

He provides technology thought leadership to Dimension Data’s Middle East and Africa business, partners and clients, making sure they use the right solutions for the right purpose at the right place.