“South Africa really needs this!” says the Weir head of IT about CIO SA


Ashref Makra has been with Weir for 32 years because he thrives on the continuous change.

“I have been with this organisation for 32 years and the only reason I am still here is the ongoing and continuous change,” says Ashref Makra, head of IT for Africa at Weir Minerals, a global mining engineering giant with a 150-year history. Ashref was the very first tech leader to meet with the team of CIO South Africa.

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It was a heart-warming conversation with Ashref, who sparks with enthusiasm for his profession. The veteran tech guru was also extremely positive about the launch of CIO South Africa, which is a sister community to the very successful CFO and CHRO communities. “South Africa really needs this! We have so much to offer as a country in the IT space. At the moment, many global businesses are outsourcing to India, but we also have a lot of skills here. If we put those to good use, the sky's the limit.”

During his three decades at the business, Ashref worked as mainframe operator, went into development, was deployed as a business systems analyst and eventually became the IT boss for activities of Weir Minerals in Africa, with a dotted reporting line to the minerals division IT director in the United States. “Some people don't like change, but as we speak I have about six projects on the go. It keeps me pumping! And I am not fighting fires either, I am playing with new stuff all the time. I am really proud of what we’re doing.”

Ashref’s IS&T transformation journey includes ERP implementations, outsourcing projects, a shift into a hybrid cloud model and a growing number of exciting applications of IoT and RPA – a part of a big manufacturing execution system (MES) implementation. “One of the big areas of focus is security, that is a major discussion point at the moment. The second one, especially in our industry, is the way we make use of the Internet of Things. Our business is very complex and we make many products, many of them proudly manufactured in South Africa.”


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