How do I better lives using technology, asks EPPF's head of IT Yolisa Skwintshi

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Technology can be used to transform businesses and change lives, says the IT Head.

According to Yolisa, being responsible for delivering accurate information about the rights, benefits and duties of all the members of the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund (EPPF) requires someone with a passion for the industry, people and interest in their well-being, especially having been entrusted with their life-savings.

“I am in a passionate industry, and I am saying, how do I better the lives of others using technology?” says Yolisa Skwintshi, the executive head of information technology at the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund (EPPF) which is one of the largest defined benefit pension funds in the country in terms of assets.

Just recently, Yolisa was recognised by the Consulate of the Netherlands in collaboration with Cocreate International as one of the top 50 women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sectors. In addition, Yolisa is also the current chairperson of ICASA’s IT Review committee, a position she has held for the past three years.

Yolisa hails all the way from the Eastern Cape and while she was on a grade 11 school visit to the then University of Port Elizabeth, now Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) found her way into a computer lab and was fascinated by the students who were writing code. She knew right then that this would be her career, and told her mother that she had decided against becoming a doctor. Unsurprisingly, her mother was not impressed, however Yolisa stood firm in her decision and went on to complete her undergraduate and honours degrees in computer science at the University of Fort Hare.

Yolisa started her working career in 2002 as a lecturer and gained experience in high-pressure roles in companies such as Bytes Technology Group, Standard Bank, FNB, Sanlam, and Absa. Her experience also spans areas such as IT risk and security as well as financial services. And nearly two decades later, Yolisa is still in IT driven by the energy of the industry as well as the constant learning and change.

Yolisa’s current role at the EPPF includes spearheading digital transformation and implementing an omnichannel approach for customers. Admitting that despite the Covid-19 pandemic and its challenges, IT will always be at the forefront. And as far as the Eskom board is concerned, Yolisa says, “We need to make sure we have a CIO in exco to help transform the business,” she says.

“The past year has been defined by disruption and it has fundamentally changed how the world does, and approaches, customer experience. Digital transformation has moved from the role of an optional extra, to a mandatory step that allows for the enterprise to ensure work goes on despite lockdowns and restrictions,” she notes.

Staying true to her nature as a visionary, Yolisa credits the response to the pandemic as one of her proudest moments as she was able to improve people’s lives, and did this while ensuring business continuity by using technology.

According to Yolisa, a moderated approach to digital transformation allows for the business to make systemic improvements throughout the business. “People and organisational change are only one part of the successful digital transformation equation,” she says.

“The business also has to embrace the value of data and has to put systems in place that can not only tug on the insights within the data but secure it and ensure that the organisation remains compliant,” Yolisa adds.

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