Getting to know Nomashni Naidoo: CIO Day ticket giveaway winner

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Spar’s IT business risk manager won a ticket to attend CIO Day, sponsored by CIO South Africa’s principal partner, MakwaIT. She’s an aspiring CIO, but an even more inspirational individual.

Nomashni Naidoo, IT business risk manager at Spar Group's drive to succeed was largely influenced by her father, who had to grow up at an early age when he suffered a personal tragedy. “I come from a background where resilience and responsibility was ingrained from a young age,” she says.

“My father’s determination and selflessness have been guiding lights in my life, instilling in me a deep sense of perseverance and empathy. One of the most enduring lessons from my father has been the importance of education and that knowledge is something that no one can ever take away from you.”

Nomashni initially wanted to become a chartered accountant, but that was someone else’s dream and not my own, as she puts it. “It was during my first year at university that I was introduced to the world of computers and technology. I found myself captivated by the endless possibilities that technology could have across industries.

“From that moment on, I knew that my future lay in leveraging technology to drive innovation and organisational success.”

However, on the road to success, a guiding hand goes a long way, and mentorship is something Nomashni is quite passionate about.

According to her, mentorship is instrumental in career development, and she’s had firsthand experience. Throughout her journey, Nomashni has been fortunate to learn from exceptional mentors who have imparted wisdom, shared experiences, and offered invaluable advice that has shaped her professional path.

“I am passionate about paying it forward,” she notes.“I believe in the importance of fostering a culture of passing on knowledge and experiences to the next generation of leaders.”

Your seat has been reserved!

In the build-up to CIO Day, which took place in May this year, Principal Partner Makwa IT gave aspiring CIOs a ‘seat at the table’, and an opportunity to mingle with world-class IT leaders for one exciting day. Nomashni was one of those lucky winners.

Nomashni wasted no time in making the most of the opportunity to learn and make some long-lasting connections. She found the day to be quite insightful, but specific parts of the programme stood out to her the most.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the breakaway discussion on the ‘CIO of the Future’ and the panel discussion on the ‘Future of Technology Leadership’,” she reflects. “These sessions provided valuable insights into the trends and challenges in the tech industry, offering perspectives on how technology leaders can adapt and innovate in a rapidly evolving landscape. The discussions were both informative and inspiring, reinforcing my commitment to staying at the forefront of technology leadership and driving impactful change within my organisation.”

Nomashni believes it is crucial to provide more opportunities for aspiring CIOs to have a seat at the table, much like MakwaIT did.

She references a famous quote by Persian poet Rumi: “When starting a journey, do not take advice from those that have not left home.” It is an honour to learn from those that have walked the journey, she adds.

With that said, Nomashni believes that providing aspiring CIOs with a seat at the table is not just about individual career advancement, it’s about driving organisational agility, fostering innovation, preparing the next generation of savvy leaders to lead with confidence, and enriching the overall industry with varied experiences and perspectives.

She even has some advice for those who also want to occupy the CIO’s chair one day: “Sharing from my own journey, aspiring CIOs should focus on developing themselves and strengthening their own toolkit. Networking and seeking mentorship provides valuable insights and guidance. In addition, engage in continuous learning and be adaptable.”

What exactly does Nomashni consider a world-class CIO to be? “In my view, a world-class CIO embodies visionary leadership, effective communication, critical thinking, collaboration and innovation.

“A CIO is the gasoline that fuels the fire for solving complex challenges, empowering digital transformation and contributing to organisational success.”

Finding inspiration, everywhere

Nomashni is a firm believer in continuous learning – of all things in life. In recent months, she discovered the principle of ikigai, a Japanese concept meaning ‘a reason to live’. “This philosophy keeps me inspired and motivated, as it encourages the pursuit of a fulfilling and balanced life,” she notes.

True to her nature, Nomashni finds inspiration in all things in life – people, TED Talks, and books. On the literature side, Nomashni is currently reading Unbreakable: Building and Leading Resilient Teams by Bradley Kirkman and Adam Stoverink. “It’s a great read about bouncing back as a leader and building resilient teams.”

On the creative side, Nomashni’s passions focus on making things: food and arts and crafts, and working with animals. “In the kitchen, I love exploring my creativity with flavours and techniques. I also enjoy making personalised gifts for my loved ones,” she says.

Working with animals, on the other hand, brings her immense joy and fulfilment. “I am involved in animal rescue and rehabilitation and am appreciative of the opportunity to contribute positively to their wellbeing,” Nomashni concludes.

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