Limpopo CoGHSTA’s Thando Mubva: empowering tomorrow’s IT leaders through mentorship

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Thando Mubva is dedicated to shaping the future of IT leadership through mentorship.

Director of ICT services at the Limpopo Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (CoGHSTA), Thando Mubva’s true passion lies in mentorship and nurturing talent. She actively engages in guiding and empowering individuals, particularly in the field of IT, fostering their growth and development as future leaders in the industry.

“The most memorable and proudest moment I’ve experienced through mentorship was seeing mentees getting permanent jobs right before the end of our mentorship programmes,” she notes. “This leads to an increase in self-esteem and confidence from the act of assisting another to achieve goals, which results in my joy and improved mental health. It also builds leadership and management skills, and increases the mentor’s professional network.”

Q: What do you enjoy the most about your role?

A: Resolving challenges through technology implementation. Being able to digitally transform a business process for a unit that was struggling with paper-based processes, such as Implementation of Performance Management Information System (e-PerMIS), which reduces cost and improves efficiency.

Q: Can you give us an idea of some of the main challenges of your career so far?

A: These were mainly limited resources (employees and technology tools), and in 2021, just as we were coming to terms with Covid-19 pandemic, two of my seniors left the department. One sadly passed on, and the other person left for another opportunity. I was then required to take over the two roles (CIO and ICT director). 

With their leadership, the directorate had achieved several recognitions and awards departmental, provincial and national. They were great mentors and gave me several opportunities that assisted in my career growth. As a government department, financial resources were directed to the pandemic which led to technology tools shortages. 

To overcome these challenges, I learned to be more resourceful and efficient with time, as I was expected to add the two senior roles on top of my role at that time, which was more of day-to-day operations. However, I was able to delegate some of my operations duties which led to mentoring another employee. 

With technology tools such as laptops/desktops, sharing of these tools were implemented for continuous services to be rendered. This taught me how to make the most out of limited resources and still reach goals efficiently which the Auditor-General attests to, since the directorate of ICT services received a clean audit for the 2022/23 financial year.

Q: What is it about mentorship that resonates with you so much?

A: As a young girl from a tertiary institution and being given an opportunity to participate in a service training programme, I promised myself that I would do the same whenever opportunity arises. I always welcome learners into the directorate for exposure, and to gain work experience. 

Before I stepped into a senior position, I got opportunities to mentor many young women and men who are currently excelling in their ICT careers in different government departments and private companies. I believe in giving the young ones exposure and opportunities to showcase their skills.

Q: How do you balance the demands of your role with your commitment to mentorship?

A: Mentoring a learner can be demanding, however at the current position, learners are allocated to their mentors, which I manage. I also encourage incentives in terms of praising great work done by learners. “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”

Q: You are equally passionate about education, why do you believe it is important for people to continue to learn? 

A: The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you. As you learn more, you will discover things that fascinate you more and more. Learning can be done through various platforms; it can be a formal university degree, through workshops, technology trends, events and various free online courses. I always encourage the directorate to attend such workshops and events. 

One thing that must be continuous is user awareness. This led to the introduction of the  Learning Tuesdays platform for all departmental employees to learn technology applications that improve usage and productivity of applications within the department. Cybersecurity awareness is also conducted through various platforms such as intranet, classroom workshops, posters in the buildings, email tips and online training. 

Technology changes very fast hence continuous learning is required. I love this quote by John F Kennedy: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” You cannot separate leaders and learning, hence continuous learning is required, as there will always be more to learn.

 Q: In your view, what are the key qualities of a successful mentor, and how do you cultivate those qualities in yourself and others?

A: I would say being patient and trustworthy are good qualities to have, and this allows people to share their experiences without judgement. Active listening skills and constructive feedback allows communications to be smooth, clear and understood.

Diversity perspectives allow views and comments of the other person to be heard. You should also keep encouraging people with positive feedback and praises, encouraging them to keep on keeping on, in addition to empowering them with knowledge through different platforms and inspiring them to unlock creativity, increase productivity and boost happiness.

Q: Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for future technologists within the tech industry?

A: My aspirations are around continuous learning, enhancing leadership skills, growth, and continuously making a difference in digitally transforming government processes with more focus on cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

Q: What do you do to unwind?

A: I love travelling across the country and abroad. I mostly do long-distance drives or weekends away to destinations with family or friends. I also am an outgoing person who loves to be around people.

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