Each one teach one

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These CIOs want to pay it forward and create the next generation of IT leaders.



Retired CIO Len de Villiers has been mentoring CIOs for as long as he has been one himself, and he has even developed a programme for it. He believes it is critical to find solutions that will allow CIOs to remain in their organisations and successfully deliver. So he created a mentorship programme using a two-way approach: on some occasions, CIOs approached him, while on others, he sought them out, and they then collaborated to create a framework for the programme.

“I ran the programme for some time until Moyo came on board,” he says. “Moyo essentially wanted to support the initiative by finding more CIOs to join and even offered to fund a portion of the programme.”

The mentorship programme has six modules, and considering that CIOs are generally very busy, he has tried to compress the programme. “When CIOs are away for programmes, their absence is quite clear and the company really feels the impact when the CIO is not there – it’s almost like the pilot is not in the cockpit,” he says.

Read more: Len de Villiers’ journey as a CIO, a problem solver and a mentor

Itumeleng Makgati, Standard Bank’s group information security executive, wants to contribute to the development of future security specialists; she is a member of the Cyber Girls initiative, which is a platform that trains young women across the continent. It informs them about all of the possible security career paths and provides them with high-level training, cloud security, and mentorship as they pursue the necessary certifications.

“I believe that there is huge value in mentoring young people, as I was mentored as well,” she says. “We need to learn from those that have walked the path before us,” she points out. Mentorship doesn’t always have to come from someone who looks like you or sounds like you – just someone who advocates for you, she adds.

It’s your very own board of directors: “individuals who can open doors for you and who have the characteristics, competencies, and experience you desire. I call it a board because it takes more than one person to give you all the knowledge that you need – advisors for both technical and leadership related matters.”

Read more: Itumeleng Makgati is flipping the narrative around information security

Conrad Blignaut, group CIO at EOH, believes that there is a growing pool of young people interested in the exciting world of IT, and helping them is a legacy he wants to leave.

Conrad has also benefited from mentorship throughout his career and maintains in contact with some of his mentors. These experiences, he believes, have had a significant impact on his professional development.

“My most valuable mentorship relationships have been my more informal ones with other business leaders. Several amazing leaders come to mind,” he says. “They’ve helped to give me an ‘outside-in’ perspective of the role of technology in business, to see what we do as technology professionals from a business perspective, in addition to giving me excellent career and development advice, particularly based on their own career journeys and experience.”

Read more: Let's develop our future CIOs, says EOH's Conrad Blignaut

However, Yunus Scheepers, CTO at Silverbridge, believes that knowing how to mentor in the modern era is necessary because mentorship as we know it has changed. “You can guide on principle, but you cannot guide on detail,” he says.

“As much as I have walked this path before and am in a good position to advise, many things have changed. The current dominant generation in the work environment, is not my generation,” he observes. “You can guide on principle, but you cannot guide on detail,” he explains. “Thankfully, all my mentees understand my approach, so they understand that I’m trying to guide them from a principle perspective.

“The generation entering the workplace right now, think quite differently, their perspectives and ideals are different, and the landscape has changed,” he observes, “and this has an impact on how they are mentored. When I entered the workplace, technology moved much slower than it does now; exponentially so!” he adds.

Read more: You can guide on principle, but you cannot guide on detail

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