Standard Bank’s Jörg Fischer was crowned CIO of the Year, at the first annual CIO Awards on 15 November 2023, a glittering gala event, dubbed the Oscars of IT. The exquisite event took place at the Polo Room at the Inanda Club in Johannesburg.
The CIO of the Year Award, which was presented by Ziaad Suleman, chief commercial officer at EOH, CIO South Africa Principal Partner, the award recognises a CIO who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation, contributing to the success of their organisation over a number of years.
Jörg is proud of the “exceptional” relationship between IT and the business units, where his team operates as a unified entity with the rest of the organisation rather than a mere cost centre, where a major focus has been placed on improving client experience. With a total yearly spend in excess of a billion rand on various IT projects, it is the replacement of the call centre that stands out for Jörg, after convincing AWS to bring their Connect technology to South Africa. He is also proud of the early use of generative AI, the Co-Pilot productivity toolkit has proven to accelerate coding, resulting in a 30–40 percent increase in productivity.
Jörg also scooped the Strategy & Leadership Award, which recognises the CIO who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in developing and implementing effective IT strategies, and the Cybersecurity Award, an award that celebrates a CIO who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in developing and implementing effective cybersecurity strategies
The Strategy & Leadership Award, was handed out by Nivashini Narsiah, director: digital engineering at Deloitte Africa, who sponsored the award, and the Cybersecurity Award was handed out by Boyd Chislett, chief business officer at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, who sponsored the award.
This year’s Young CIO of the Year Award recipient was Dr Denisha Jairam-Owthar, for her time as CIO at Stellenbosch University (she is now newly appointed CIO at the Council for Medical Schemes). This award was presented by Malose Mabusela, head of demand generation and award sponsor Makwa IT.
Denisha has been at the forefront of implementing change through technology at South Africa’s oldest university which now has the latest Oracle Cloud Technology for its financial systems. Ultimately this large-scale technology will empower the university to streamline processes, forge stronger connections between academia and the real world and address pressing societal issues more effectively.
Sasfin Bank’s Josh Souchon was another big winner on the night, first taking home the IT Project of the Year Award. This award celebrates the CIO who has spearheaded successful IT projects that have made a significant impact on the business. Josh successfully implemented Sasfin’s group IT operating model, which is aligned with the organisational model, and the IT Unitised Costing model at the bank.
The IT Project of the Year Award was presented by Daniel Manyemwe, chief customer officer at Entelect, who is also CIO South Africa’s newest Principal Partner.
Josh’s second award was the Digital Innovation Award, given out by Siya Mnyanda, senior account executive: enterprise at Workday.
Josh is proud of the huge digital transformation he has led at Sasfin, from what was not more than a website to a fully digital bank without branches and cashless banking. He sees AI as transformative and made Sasfin one of the first banks to leverage it with an AI-driven credit scorecard for their asset finance business coupled with machine learning. Josh believes innovation and creativity need openness and an appetite to fail. He emphasises there is no such thing as an “IT project”, there are only business projects.
MTN's group CIO Nikos Angelopoulos was named the winner of the Smart Data Award, presented by Karthikeyan Damodaran CEO of Indsafri, the sponsor for the award. And Warren Hero, CIO at Webber Wentzel secured the High-Performance Team Award, an award presented by Jeniffer Ramnath, managing director: technology strategy and advisory, at Accenture in South Africa.
Eskom’s CIO Faith Burn won the Public Sector of the Year Award, which was handed out by Itayi Mandonga, country leader at Software AG – sponsors of the award.
The full list of CIO Awards 2023 winners:
CIO of the Year – Jörg Fischer, Standard Bank
Young CIO of the Year – Dr Denisha Jairam-Owthar, Council for Medical Schemes
Cybersecurity – Jörg Fischer, Standard Bank
Strategy & Leadership – Jörg Fischer, Standard Bank
Digital Innovation – Josh Souchon, Sasfin
IT Projects – Josh Souchon, Sasfin
High-Performance Team – Warren Hero, Webber Wentzel
Public Sector CIO of the Year – Faith Burn, Eskom
Smart Data – Nikos Angelopoulos, MTN
The judges for the inaugural 2023 CIO Awards were:
Gys Kappers, Wyzetalk Chairman
Jon Foster-Pedley, Henley Business School Dean
Kholiwe Makhohliso, SAP Southern Africa Managing Director
Lauren Berrington, Bidvest Chief Audit Officer
Lethabo Mokone, Makwa IT CEO
Mark Kathan, AECI Mining CEO
Matimba Mbungela Vodacom, CHRO
Omeshnee Naidoo, Deloitte CIO Programme Leader
Stephen van Coller, EOH CEO
Storme McDonald, RMB COO
Tendayi Viki, Strategyzer Associate Partner
Thuto Masasa, BDO Head of Advisory
Valda Gossman, AngloGold Ashanti Former Group Chief Digital and Information Officer
Zuko Mdwaba Salesforce Area Vice President
More on the other award winners:
Public Sector CIO of the Year – Faith Burn
Faith Burn joined Eskom in May 2020, an interesting time because the Covid-19 pandemic had just hit, and the country went into lockdown two months before she joined the state entity. This also meant that Faith could not meet her new team of 700 people that she was supposed to lead – only happened a year later.
High-Performance Team Award – Warren Hero
Warren Hero, CIO at Webber Wentzel has spearheaded the use of narrow AI and large learning models to revolutionise their core platform, empowering lawyers to swiftly produce top-notch initial drafts. He overcame scepticism to collaborate with finance and implement a new system, which helped revolutionise the business model through a shift from billable hours to value-based contracting. Warren has also been involved in the introduction of a new HR system and a move into the cloud - resulting in a 36 percent decrease in energy consumption and a better ESG score.
Smart Data Award – Nikos Angelopoulos
Nikos Angelopoulos, MTN’s Group CIO, works extensively supporting MTN’s Telco to TechCo migration. He advocates that technology is a critical enabler for business transformation. Nikos helped build MTN’s big data environment across 15 countries fuelling incremental revenue via CVM transformation, fostered a business-led cloud strategy where selected applications migrate to cloud generating proven value, and is driving AI adoption for customer facing and internal use cases. Above all, Nikos believes in the importance of developing people’ skills and building teams.