From conquering Table Mountain to overcoming adversity

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Duxbury’s Shamiel Kimmie shares his journey of perseverance.

Shamiel Kimmie, CIO at Duxbury Networking, hails from humble beginnings, and began his career in electronic engineering after securing a bursary to study at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), previously known as Peninsula Technikon. His exceptional academic results resulted in a bursary from Otis, a manufacturer and maintainer of elevators and escalators.

He later worked for Grinaker Data Systems, a data communications company, as an electronics engineer doing repairs and designs on electronic and data communication devices, which led to his second role and longest stint of 27 years with Duxbury Networking. There, he began as a workshop engineer and gradually climbed the ranks, assuming various roles such as help desk technician, support engineer, pre-sales engineer, technical manager, and finally, CIO.

Shamiel enjoys hiking in his spare time and goes out looking for best hiking spots, as far as the Western Cape. “My 15-year-old grandson and I climbed Lion’s Head last year,” he says. “And this year, we climbed Table Mountain via Skeleton’s Gorge.” The hiking experience brings him pure delight, as he finds himself embraced by the rugged rocks and the soothing sounds of nature. This, to him, represents the epitome of a true immersive adventure, where nature’s beauty envelops him both physically and spiritually, creating unforgettable memories.

In fact, Shamiel records himself with his GoPro as he hikes, capturing every moment of the journey. He then edits that footage with Adobe Premier by adding sound effects to create one complete video. “I capture the tiniest details to give my video life,” he explains, “down to the gravel with each step that brings a harmonious connection with the rough and weathered surfaces, the sound of water, or even myself slipping on a rock – not intentionally – just to capture the action and add dramatic effect.”

Working out in the gym is also an important part of his daily routine, as it helps him stay fit and energised. “I find it both physically and mentally rewarding to challenge myself and push my limits during exercise.”

Networking and mentoring

Shamiel is a firm believer that in order to grow, one must always continue to learn. He also holds a BCom with honours in strategic business management from the University of Johannesburg, but in 2020, he completed his master’s in IT management at the institution, and says it was quite an interesting time.

“It meant that I had to attend classes with people much younger than me,” he explains. “I would often be asked by fellow students why I was studying, since I’m already in a leadership role in my career. As a result, I accidentally became their mentor, a role I had to split between the engineers I mentor at work, and the students I attended classes with.”

Shamiel’s research focused on the adoption of disruptive technologies in South Africa with a specific focus on AI adoption, a subject of concern and debate among experts and the general public. Discussion tends to lean towards the threat AI may present to mankind, but Shamiel says that it also has the potential to make our lives a little easier.

“I believe that AI is there to complement our daily lives,” he says. “This technology has the potential to revolutionise various aspects of our lives from education to healthcare. However, it cannot just take over like many believe it can: it is crucial in our development, but also needs our help, to be fed the data – ethical and trusted data. We need to be very cautious about the information that we feed into AI,” he explains.

Shamiel believes that AI should be seen as a trusted sidekick that can handle mundane tasks, and an enabler for teams. “We should never think that AI can replace the creativity, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking that human beings possess.”

A sense of purpose

The biggest driver to how Shamiel approaches his life is having a sense of purpose. He encourages everyone to continuously work on bettering themselves, whether it be from an educational perspective, or spending more time with your family and giving back to others. “A sense of purpose,” he says, “is about building a better future for yourself and those around you.”

He says that he is proud of where he is in life today considering his background, and now, more than ever, believes that one’s circumstance shouldn’t determine their destiny.

“I grew up in a humble and modest neighbourhood, where most of us spent time dreaming about the day we would make it big,” he reflects. “I was pleasantly surprised, recently, when I discovered that the neighbourhood in which I grew up, had produced three exceptional leaders in their respective fields: a chief information officer, a chief information and security officer, and a CEO who all grew up in the same street.

“Our street is showing up, we are making our mark, and are proof that perseverance can take you anywhere in life.”

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