Warren Hero, CIO at Webber Wentzel, shares his aptitude for technology journey

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He was part of the team that brought the first cloud-connected data centres to Africa

“Data makes us see more. It makes us see now and see new,” says Warren Hero, the Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer at Webber Wentzel, the leading full-service law firm in Africa with over 150 years of experience and industry knowledge. The firm was also announced as the Dealmaker of the Decade (by deal value) at the 2020 DealMakers Annual Gala Awards.

Growing up in Kliptown, Soweto - Warren aspired to be a medical doctor, but was only accepted at Wits for a BSc degree. He realised early on in his career while working at DSTV that he had the aptitude for technology. “I had the ability to think in novel ways to solve a problem, and that novelty, underpinned by technology, really got me to a point where I saw an opportunity,” he says.

In his current role, Warren always thinks of ways to engage his team and cites Harvard Business Review as one of his sources of inspiration. These are some of the tips he’d like to share with other CIOs:

  1. He tries to find time in his day where his team experience things differently. “When you play, you use your imagination and bring all of you to the table,” he says. Meetings are also structured to find ways to play.
  2. He encourages his team to do something that can contribute to the wider community, be purposeful and engage at work.
  3. Fulfilment of potential is also important. “Geeks love to do cool stuff. I find opportunities for our team to do the latest and greatest, develop their expertise and then apply it,” he says.

Building teams and empowering them remains one of the proudest moments of his career. In his previous role as the Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft South Africa, he was part of the team that brought the first cloud-connected data centres to Africa. He admits that as a leader he is aware that he does not know everything and has built trust in his team. “What I do as a leader is find ways for individuals to connect to the firm’s purpose statement so they can find their why in our why,” he says.

Working from home since the end of March 2020 has been an easy transition in that he and his team had two years’ worth of training before the hard lockdown hit. “Our focus was always on ensuring the mobility of the person, not tech, which ensured the position of being able to work from wherever,” says Warren.

Impressively, for the past four years, Warren, together with a group of other CIOs, have been working with the Institute for Chartered IT Professionals (ICITP) to conceptualise the professionalising of the CIO career designation. The team has put together a ladder of competence from school level until senior level. This is all part of his plan to continue to make a difference in the future of the IT industry.

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