Tsebeletso Mashau: Lift others as you grow

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The Standard Bank CIO takes pride in nurturing the next generation of IT leaders. She firmly believes that this goal can only be achieved through collective effort and mutual support.

As far as transformation in IT is concerned, “let’s make the circle bigger”, says Tsebeletso Mashau, CIO for personal and private banking at Standard Bank Africa regions. She is unapologetic about introducing more young girls and boys into the tech space. “There is a space for more women in this industry, but very few of us occupy it,” she adds. For this reason, Tsebeletso believes that this is a challenge that will be solved by women and men working together to address this gap.

In her high school years, Tsebeletso generally gravitated towards mathematics and science with a keen interest in solving problems. For this reason, her initial plan was to study medicine post-matric. It was a conversation with a friend that sparked interest in a different field, leading her to pursue a BSc in computer science.

Tsebeletso notes that the first semester of her computer science studies was a stretch, taking into account limited to no exposure to computers. In her final year, she received an academic scholarship, which opened opportunities to advance her career in IT. As she gained confidence, her passion in the subject increased. She later furthered her studies attaining an honours in computer science and a master’s in information technology.

Tapping into entrepreneurial arena

Tsebeletso started her career as an entrepreneur, running an IT company that delivered computer centres to schools and communities in partnership with the Department of Communications. This was a concept introduced initially to develop entrepreneurs to bridge the digital divide in South Africa by providing network and digital services empowering communities to generate revenue.

The business operation was based in Cape Town. However, Tsebeletso decided to relocate, as more opportunities started to surface in Johannesburg. This was a period when her business acumen was put to the test competing with some of the big corporates in the industry.

She recalls when their company was awarded a significant business opportunity, it was at the same time when they didn’t even have transport and relied on taxis to go and present their business case. This experience contributed to her resilience and persistence, which she still carries today.

It takes a team

She later left the business and joined Unisys Africa as a graduate consultant before moving into the financial services sector with her longest tenure being with Standard Bank. At Standard Bank, she started in a specialist role and later progressed into delivering large IT programmes across markets in Africa for corporate and investment banking and insurance businesses. Tsebeletso was later appointed as the CIO for Consumer & High Net Worth Clients South Africa and recently as a CIO for Personal and Private Banking Africa Regions.

“It has been rewarding to work for an organisation that invested in my personal growth and gave me challenges and opportunities that contributed to my career growth. I am grateful to the leaders that sacrificed time to support me throughout this journey,” she says.

When she joined Standard Bank, Tsebeletso only had intentions of remaining with the bank for two years, but something motivated her to stay. “I’ve had endless opportunities with Standard Bank and also want to create similar opportunities for young engineers entering the market.

Reflecting on her career and possibilities in Africa, a quote that resonates with Tsebeletso is “be the change you wish to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi. “No one is coming,” she says, noting that we all have a role to play in being part of the solution to address challenges facing Africa today.

“There is nothing wrong with learning from other parts of the world. The context of Africa is different and therefore we need to create solutions that solve real problems for people on this continent,” she concludes.

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