The IT skills you have today will be irrelevant tomorrow, says Devi Moodley

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She encourages continuous learning as a way to remain relevant in IT.

Devi Moodley, CIO for the current banking capability at Momentum Metropolitan, started her career as a control and instrumentation engineer. She graduated from Wits with a BSc in electrical engineering and has a master’s degree in industrial engineering. Devi saw the opportunity of using IT to transform business and transitioned from engineering to IT.

“I enjoyed growing an understanding of the business and using technology to solve problems experienced,” she says. “At the time, engineering companies were not using IT at the core of business transformation and I decided to seek opportunities in the banking sector.

“I then joined Standard Bank and later moved into IT advisory consulting with Ernst & Young.”

Devi went on to join Nedbank and, along with her team, was instrumental in the development of the bank’s DevOps and cloud engineering practice.

“My engineering background was quite useful in my role in DevOps and cloud engineering,” she says. At the technical heart of DevOps and cloud practices are automation and monitoring.

“The discipline and problem-solving skills that I learnt in the formative years of my career in engineering allows me to be able to quickly find alternative strategies and solutions in the digital disruptive world of today.”

She is currently CIO in Momentum Metropolitan’s banking capability and says they will be relaunching the offering. “We are currently in the process of rebranding to Momentum Money.

Momentum Money is built as a complete digital offering. Replatformed modern channels, cloud technologies and automation strategies have been leveraged for an effortless client experience.

Own your space
According to Devi, as a woman in the IT industry you need to take charge of your space and proudly own your seat at the table. If you don’t, she says, the prejudices can beat you. “I give credit to my parents, who ensured we had the confidence in our own capabilities irrespective of our gender. I take on challenges that I choose despite the prejudices that females continue to endure even today in the technical space.

“I entered the working environment at a time when it was the least transformed. But I was not affected by the prejudices against women that already existed – simply by the virtue of my upbringing. I never questioned myself,” she notes. “Ethics, integrity and discipline will take you very far regardless of the fact that you are a man or a woman.

“Naysayers will always be there, and criticism is inevitable: if it is valid criticism, take it and work on bettering yourself,” she advises. “However, if the criticism is based on prejudice, fight it if it’s worth it, or don’t bother expending unnecessary energy.”

At the end, she says, it’s not about being male or female, but rather what you can do.

The landscape is changing, but slowly
What surprises Devi – or rather what she finds most disheartening – is that after so many years since she graduated, the industry isn’t as transformed as it should be. “There are still not enough women in the field,” she says. “I’m not flooded with CVs from female candidates and I believe it is a systemic problem that the country – and the world – needs to deal with. Girls should also be encouraged to pursue STEM-related courses from a young age, and this will grow the pipeline of candidates for recruitment in the future.

“From a South African perspective, despite some barriers being lifted we still do not have enough representation,” she notes. “Although women do enter the field, they often veer off roles such as project management, business analysis and testing roles. Very few remain in core technical roles and research has shown that this is because of the barriers that exist.”

Looking at the next generation of IT leaders, her advice is simple: never stop learning. “Technological disruption has resulted in an exponential increase in the growth of technology. The challenge today is grasping new technology trends early enough to improve your business and capitalise on them. Unless you are constantly learning in this day and age, you are literally obsolete,” she cautions.

“Added to this, is cultivating a hunger for knowledge and a willingness to learn and being very self-aware. This is because whatever you think you know today needs to be constantly re-evaluated. The IT sector is so fast moving that the skills you have today are irrelevant tomorrow. Don’t be afraid of unlearning what you have learnt,” says Devi.

In her spare time, Devi enjoys cooking and says it brings out her creativity. She also packs quite the punch – she started taking karate lessons at a very late stage in her life. However, she’s picked up on the sport very quickly – she’s currently a brown belt, but hopes to go for her black belt soon.

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