Tshepo Motshegoa blazes a trail for South Africa’s youth

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Seacom’s new group CIO, Tshepo Motshegoa, is giving the youth an alternative and honest path to success.

A mere month into his role, Tshepo Motshegoa, Seacom’s new group CIO is sprinting full throttle, spearheading Seacom's digital transformation strategy with gusto. His mission: to craft a comprehensive 360-degree perspective of their customers, fostering operational efficiency and elevating the customer journey to unparalleled heights.

Tshepo’s roots trace back to a neighbourhood where role models were scarce – the humble streets of Hammanskraal, north of Gauteng. Tshepo envisions himself as the embodiment of possibility – a beacon for the youth in his community. With unwavering commitment, he aims to ignite their aspirations, urging the next generation to dream big, both in life and the dynamic realm of corporate endeavours.

“I would describe myself as a pathfinder for both my family and my community,” Tshepo explains. “I am something of an outlier, because there has never been someone in my family who was able to obtain a tertiary qualification.”

Tshepo didn’t grow up with clear role models from within his family structure and had to look outside. He identified two South African business titans: Phuthuma Nhleko and Dr Ruel Khoza. “I look up to people like Phuthuma Nhleko, who identified having a world view as a critical aspect to effective leadership in the 21st century,” he says.

“The BellSouth multinational project in Atlanta is a perfect example of how I was thrown into the deep end early on in my career, but in turn gave me that world view,” he continues. Tshepo’s stint abroad came from his time with Accenture, where he cut his teeth in IT consulting and sales. He was seconded overseas and worked in countries such as the US and India.

He is pleased that his pathfinding efforts have borne fruit, because there are now two other family members besides himself with degrees.

Survivor’s guilt

Tshepo notes that not everyone from the township is offered the opportunity to create some level of success for themselves, and those that do may develop some guilt. However, he believes that guilt should rather be turned into motivation to assist others in realising their dreams and ambitions.

“The trouble is,” he says, “those who make it out of the township rarely go back to give a hand up to the next person – something I want to change. We need to make a better effort in becoming role models.”

According to Tshepo, people often fail to appreciate the power of someone who looks like them and shares a similar background, who manages to build significant traction in the corporate world and prosper. “That gives hope and inspiration for the next generation to challenge the status quo,” he says.

With that said, he does have plans to change that narrative by going back to his former high school – at least once a year – to give talks to students about life, what to do if they’re unsure about what career they want to pursue after completing matric. For those who have decided on a path, Tshepo has committed to becoming their mentor, particularly those wanting to enter into IT, and that all-important first foot in the door.

But success in the end goes beyond how bright you are as a student, Tshepo explains. It’s about your attitude. “Do you have a positive inclination?” he asks. “Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty type of person?”

A techie with a touch of soul

Tshepo is not your typical techie, but rather an individual who is unapologetic about pursuing his dream, yet gives back to his community. And, in his earlier adult life, he was a successful musician.

“I see myself as a pragmatic, logical thinker who happens to love music,” he says. “I enjoy the creative process around producing new music. I feel that the creativity spills into my technical side and informs my approach as a solutionist and paints a picture of the common vision for the teams I lead.”

Dr Ruel Khoza also happens to be a musician. “Dr Khoza says in his book, Attuned Leadership, that a leader must be in tune with those that he leads,” says Tshepo. “I relate to that analogy because I have been pursuing harmony and flow in all aspects of my life and my understanding of music has allowed me to have a feel for leading with greater cooperation and harmony.”

The deal closer

At Seacom, Tshepo will be working closely with the chief digital and operations officer (CDOO) with a specific focus on digital transformation and innovation. “We know that technology changes very quickly. We are no longer talking about the internet of things (IoT), we are now talking about the internet of senses (IoS), intelligent neural networks are starting to form around cloud technology and network providers have to deal with the massive data this will generate. So, you have to be intentional about how you will manage your data so that it becomes meaningful information, and does not become the basis for stagnation.

Seacom, originally founded as a subsea cable operator specialising in wholesale connectivity for ISPs and MNOs, but has since significantly expanded its role. Over the years, the company has broadened its scope by venturing into enterprise solutions, introducing these services in South Africa in 2015 and in Kenya the subsequent year.

Tshepo underscores this transformative journey, emphasising that the ongoing changes are strategically geared towards bolstering operational efficiency with the primary aim of delivering superior service to clients.

From a career perspective, Tshepo is on the right track and has occupied the most senior role in IT as CIO in diverse industries such as healthcare, in his previous role as 3Sixty Health’s CIO, and has now transitioned into the ICT provider space. However, he has other ambitions he wants to put into action at Seacom.

“I’ve managed to sharpen my technical skills throughout my career by always staying up to date with the latest trends in technology and business. But I’d love to enhance my business development skills, especially as Seacom enters new markets, and not merely be the IT guy: I want to sharpen my deal-closing skills,” Tshepo concludes.

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