Ever wondered what South Africa’s top IT minds enjoy doing in their spare time?

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Here are some interesting hobbies and activities that CIOs enjoy doing to unwind.

Apart from overseeing IT projects from start to finish and introducing new technologies in their respective organisations, CIOs also make time for some downtime. To give you an idea of what some of South Africa’s IT leaders will be doing this festive season, we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting hobbies they’ve shared with the CIO South Africa community.

IT’s sharpshooter

Dolf Smook, Empact Group’s head of technology solutions, is an adrenaline junkie who enjoys rock climbing and skydiving in addition to his main hobby of shooting. “I shoot six different disciplines, from pistol, 3-gun, and shotgun, to medium-range, long-range, and extreme long-range.

“The adrenaline rush you get shooting from a kilometre away at a 30cm gong while the wind is blowing at 20km/h is unrivalled. However, there is a great deal of responsibility that comes with this sport; you are holding a powerful weapon that, if used incorrectly, can have disastrous consequences, so safety is of the utmost importance.”

Read more: Turning a hobby into an exciting career

Avid cyclists

Thenjiwe Ntuli-Dlamini, SEDA’s chief strategy and information officer, is an early riser who prefers to begin her day on a positive and active note. She visits the gym at least four times per week and spends her weekends cycling with her two sons, aged 27 and 22.

“Trying to keep up with my sons on the road keeps me young and healthy, and it’s also our quality time.”

Clifford de Wit, like Thenjiwe, considers cycling to be a family sport, but he doesn’t ride any old bike. Clifford rides a tandem bike and has even participated in various tandem bike races. He is also fascinated by astronomy and enjoys astrophotography.

“Astrophotography is an amazing intersection of technology and physics. It involves taking astronomy images using specialised cameras, but it does take a fair amount of work. You need to align the telescope with the earth’s rotation, which can sometimes take hours to capture that raw data,” he explains. “Once that data is captured, it goes into a software ecosystem, where it is processed and turned into a final image.”

Read more: CTO and CIO's symbiotic relationship

Racing aficionados

Tiger BrandsMohammed Gause, on the other hand, has a need for speed. He’s not only a Formula One enthusiast, but has also been behind the driver’s seat on the Kyalami Grand Prix circuit.

However in his younger years, he discovered an interesting hobby to pass the time called radio DXing. Mohammed would build large antennae and sit in front of his radio, trying to pick up distant radio stations on shortwave bands, from the Bahamas all the way to Russia.

Read more: Working as a unit, not in isolation

Josh Souchon, group CIO at Sasfin Bank, also has an affinity for Formula One, but favours one driver in particular. He is a proud supporter of Mercedes-Benz driver Lewis Hamilton.

Read more: Finishing what you start

Green-fingered CIO

Bridgestone’s head of IT, Oren Moodley, is a green-fingered CIO who describes himself as a true agriculturalist at heart. He enjoys gardening and spending time outside with my family. However, sustainability, survival skills, and living off the land are what drew him to farming. “This is in stark contrast to the lives we’ve all become accustomed to today, in which we buy everything from the supermarket,” he says.

The most intriguing hobby, however, has to come from Bruce Paveley, CTO at TymeBank. Bruce enjoys road running and pigeon racing in his spare time. He says that pigeon racing is a dying sport because it requires a lot of time and effort, as well as a place to keep the pigeons, which require large cages.

“It’s a winter sport and so different from technology, and that’s why I like it. It also takes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to spend some time outdoors.”

Read more: Technology and business working together

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