Fifty leading CIOs attended the launch of CIO South Africa – committed to building knowledge, networks and careers.
On the evening of 1 March, 50 leading IT executives gathered to celebrate the launch of CIO South Africa – an organisation that brings the CIO community together to share knowledge, build their networks and advance their careers.
The excitement was palpable as the executives showed their support of the new organisation that will support them in furthering their professional goals. “When I started talking to CIOs about an organisation like this, their response was ‘yes, please!’” said Joël Roerig, managing director of CIO South Africa. “Tonight, we bring together many of South Africa’s leading IT executives to launch a community that will support and serve them.”
The launch event was also supported by corporate partners Software AG and Workday. On arrival, the CIOs first had the opportunity to network and interact in the innovative Deloitte Greenhouse’s social spaces, before being ushered into a plenary session to hear from Stephen van Coller, CEO of EOH, about how IT executives can be successful in the boardroom.
Attendees were pleasantly surprised to receive a wealth of knowledge from a leader who has overcome an organisational crises of his own in recent years.
According to Stephen, CIOs will at some point in their careers encounter their own challenges, however, the key to overcoming these issues is being transparent and honest with your organisation.
He raised the point that the CIO has to also assume the role of strategic advisor who is prepared to fail at times and is willing to learn. “The CIO has to be innovative, strategic, a problem solver and most importantly focus on talent retention,” he says.
This informative keynote was followed by an introduction by Melle Eijckelhoff, co-founder of CIO South Africa, who examined the global trends affecting CIOs. He specifically highlighted the demand for CIOs to better manage expectations, the shift in decision-making power and relationships in the boardroom.
“CIO need to manage expectations as there are great gaps between the challenges of the times and the technology available to manage these challenges. In addition, there is a clear shift in decision-making power, now, with everyone getting involved,” says Melle.
However, Melle went on to say the biggest global trend emerging has been in the boardroom and in the relationships between CIOs, CFOs and CMOs. These executives all have different perspectives on technology and the problems it can solve.
“CIOs, CFOs and CMOs may not always see things through the same lens when it comes to technology, but they need to speak with a common language to stay nimble in the future,” he said.
Melle concluded that the Covid-19 pandemic was a great opportunity for IT professionals to leverage technology and provide valuable insights for many organisations.
The CIOs were then ushered into two separate streams, one to attend a fascinating masterclass with global strategist Abdullah Verachia, on Disruption Amplified, and where this leaves the CIO.
During the interactive – and perhaps provocative – masterclass, CIOs discussed how they should be dropping the digital jargon when championing their role to the C-suite, and instead try to build trust in their capabilities.
Abdullah then delivered a number of provocations for the audience to debate, which resulted in heated conversation about the future role of the CIO
The remaining CIOs joined a roundtable to discuss increasing their influence, tying into Stephen’s keynote from the opening session.
As a sign of the times, the CIOs highlighted their biggest pain point, namely cyber-security and the fact that the world’s attention being on the ongoing war between Russia and the Ukraine. This, they said, is the perfect distraction and an opportunity for cyber-criminals to carry on with business as usual and ramp up their activities.
This brought to a close the knowledge sharing part of the evening, and those in attendance lingered to discuss what they had experienced with new friends among their executive peers.
CIO South Africa’s primary focus is on delivering exactly what IT executives need. The most important thing to emerge from the launch of this new executive community is that the CIOs were heard and got to participate in the conceptualising of this organisation.