CIO South Africa’s 2022 dinners give CIOs an opportunity to connect


The pandemic made IT leaders better leaders and made IT the hero again, CIOs revealed.

At the first-ever CIO SA dinner, held in July at The Saxon Hotel, one CIO said that at the start of the pandemic, it became about leading rather than managing for their organisation, and as such, they embarked on a mission to implement a leadership development programme that would transform leadership’s way of thinking and approaching things.

Another dinner guest revealed that it was also an opportunity for them to reflect on their own ways of doing things and change their leadership style, transitioning from being a leader who micromanaged to one who gave instructions and let people do their jobs without constantly chasing them. Trust became important, and giving it to their team saw their own anxieties about not knowing if people were or weren’t doing their jobs gradually fade away.

Read more: First-ever CIO SA dinner at The Saxon

The second CIO SA dinner was held in September on the 7th floor of The Leonardo, Africa’s tallest building. This time, IT took centre stage: everyone was working remotely, and IT was the only part of the business that could make this happen. As a result, guests said, the company had to rely on IT, and it was no longer a backroom function.

According to the CIOs who attended, a significant shift occurred in which business looked to IT for direction. However, at the time, this meant that IT needed to begin to understand business requirements.

In terms of personas that emerged at one organisation, the first was of a fully remote worker who relied on collaboration for a hybrid working model, another of a leader and executor, and the last of a full-time worker whose function required them to be in the office.

The CIOs also pointed out that hybrid working models created a different problem when looking at the pandemic through a Great Resignation lens.

“We will lose even more people if we insist on people returning to the office full-time,” one CIO said. “People want flexibility, and we must provide it, which is where trust comes in. It is impossible to know exactly what one is doing 100 percent of the time – there are tools for that – but as a leader, you must have some level of trust in your team,” they added.

Read more: How the pandemic made IT the hero again

The CIOs returned to The Saxon in November for the year’s final dinner, where they discussed some of the key priorities for IT leaders in the coming year. It evolved into a brainstorming session accompanied by delicious food.

One guest was of the view that part of a CIO’s responsibility is understanding the business. This, he said, gives you credibility on the board as an IT leader. “Unforeseen or external factors have forced CIOs to think with a business mindset and speak that language,” commented one guest, who shared their sentiments about business acumen.

From a technological perspective, another guest said that it is one thing to be excited about new and emerging technology, but that technology needs to make sense at the end of the day. In fact, another agreed and said that some CIOs often find themselves chasing the next big thing and concentrating on the future rather than the current issues.

“It’s all about preserving the present, but thinking about the future,” one concluded.

Read more: Good food and some brainstorming


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