IT industry veterans in a class of their own dominated the prestigious Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) President’s Awards for 2021.

The IITPSA President’s Awards winners, announced during a virtual ceremony on 12th April 2022, recognised achievers who have collectively demonstrated excellence in IT for over a century.

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg and winner of over 45 accolades, was named IT Personality of the year; while Herman Swanepoel, CIO and Innovation Officer at Bestmed Medical Scheme, won the Visionary CIO of the Year Award.  

Serial entrepreneur and founder of Ukheshe Technologies Clayton Hayward received the Technology Excellence Award, and the Tomorrow Trust won the Social Responsibility / Community Award.

Ulandi Exner, past President of the IITPSA, received an IITPSA Fellowship award; and Professor Jean Greyling, Associate Professor in the Department of Computing Sciences at the Nelson Mandela University and IITPSA Eastern Cape IT Personality of the Year 2019, won the Distinguished Service in ICT Award.

The IITPSA President’s Awards have recognised South African IT industry leading lights for over 40 years, acknowledging their professional excellence and setting them as examples of what the country’s IT professionals are capable of. The 2021 awards, themed ‘Excellence in the New Normal’, acknowledged the important role IT professionals play in helping the world to adapt to a changed environment.

In congratulating the winners, IITPSA President Admire Gwanzura said: “For the 2021 awards, we set out to recognise IT professionals playing a pivotal role in helping business and society successfully adapt to a digital ‘new normal’. What we found was nominees who have been enabling digital transformation and using IT to develop South Africa and its communities – not just in recent years, but for many decades. We are encouraged to note that South Africa’s IT industry is still led by great minds and innovators of this calibre, who have consistently demonstrated excellence in IT over many years.” 

IT Personality of the Year

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, was previously a 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg. He was a full Professor of Electrical Engineering, the Carl and Emily Fuchs Chair of Systems and Control Engineering as well as the South Africa Chair of Systems Engineering all at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. 

He holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering (magna cum laude) from Case Western Reserve University, a Master of Mechanical Engineering from University of Pretoria, PhD in Engineering from University of Cambridge and was a post-doctoral associate at Imperial College. Marwala is a registered professional engineer in South Africa, a Fellow of The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, Academy of Science of South Africa, South African Academy of Engineering and a distinguished member of the Association for Computing Machinery.

He has received more than 45 awards including the Order of Mapungubwe from the South African Government and the President’s Award from the National Research Foundation. He has published more than 20 books, including the acclaimed Closing the Gap: The Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa and Leadership Lessons from Books I Have Read: The Collective Wisdom, Knowledge and Experience from the Pages of Fifty Books.

He has also published over 300 papers in journals, proceedings and book chapters and holds three international patents. He is a board member of Nedbank and a Trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and also served as Deputy Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Visionary CIO of the Year

Herman Swanepoel is the Chief Information and Innovation Officer at Bestmed Medical Scheme, the largest self-administered medical scheme in South Africa. Recognised as a transformational CIO, Swanepoel is responsible for a large part of the organisation, including serving as Executive for Human Resources, and acting as Executive of Manage Healthcare.

As a business technology leader with over 20 years of industry experience, he mixes business, technology and leadership skills to transform organisations through the strategic use of technology and innovation. Swanepoel started his IT career at the Department of Health and served at UTi (now DSV) and Barloworld before joining Bestmed in 2017. He has been instrumental in enabling the strategic technology rollout of the company, which has contributed to Bestmed winning a number of accolades. These include being ranked highest in employee morale and workplace support and management for the OHBF employee culture and climate survey; ranking 1st in the Ask Afrika Orange Index Benchmark for the medical aid industry; achieving the highest ratings in overall customer service index, loyalty, value, quality, and lowest complaints in the Medical Scheme Industry Category in the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi) 2020 and 2021;

and winning the 2020 Titanium excellence award in creating access to quality healthcare. 

Swanepoel holds several IT certifications and formal IT qualifications alongside an MBA through the Edinburgh Business School (Scotland) a Global MBA in Digital Technology through Zigurat Global Institute of Technology (University of Barcelona) and a Strategic Innovation program through Oxford University (UK). 

Technology Excellence Award

Clayton Hayward has more than 21 years’ experience in the domestic and international ICT industry. He has sought and successfully exploited many gaps in the ICT market over that period. He has founded, operated and successfully exited over a dozen technology start-ups and services businesses both locally and abroad, starting with INFOR (GmbH) in 1998 which was later listed in Germany.

In 2000, he formed one of his first companies called Vidette, a specialist strategic sales and account management methodology and CRM software provider. Three years later, he started openVOICE, where he was a pioneer VOIP service provider, as well as an open -source telecommunications provider.

In November 2018, Hayward co-founded pan-African fintech Ukheshe Technologies, where he aims to become the dominant B2B fintech enabler on the continent.

Social Responsibility / Community Award 

Tomorrow Trust provides holistic programmes focused on academic, psychosocial, career and digital development to orphaned and vulnerable children and youth by delivering additional wraparound support to children in school (Grade R to Grade 12) in Holiday and Saturday School Programmes and a Tertiary Programme.

The SHIFT (Skills, Holism, and Innovation for Tomorrow) development programme aims at guiding and preparing orphaned and vulnerable learners to solve problems, think critically, work collaboratively and creatively, function in a digital and information-driven world, apply digital and ICT skills and transfer these skills to solve everyday problems. The SHIFT programme houses various robotics, coding, e-learning, digital literacy, academic enhancement apps, access to ICT connection, devices and data and digital entrepreneurship. 

Tomorrow Trust currently supports 1000 children in its Holiday and Saturday School Programme in Gauteng and the Western Cape, and a further 183 youth in various universities and colleges throughout South Africa through its Tertiary Programme. The Trust also provides additional holistic support to nearly 100 youth and youth professionals through its YES initiative partnerships, Work Readiness and Wellness Programmes.

Fellowship Award 

Ulandi Exner, past President of the IITPSA and former chair-person of the IITPSA’s Women in IT (WIIT) Committee, runs Lands Consulting – an IT auditing and IT consulting service for SMEs.

Exner has been an IT professional for over 20 years and has worked in various industry sectors and serves on a number of boards.  

 She holds a BCom in Informatics and as well as a number of certifications including some from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) as well as the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)², in IT Security, IT Governance, Data Privacy, IT Assurance and Risk, and is in the process of completing her MPhil in IT Governance. She is also a Certified Director through the Institute of Directors South Africa (IODSA) and a Professional Member of IITPSA (PMIITPSA).

Distinguished Service in ICT Award: Prof. Jean Greyling

Jean Greyling, Associate Professor in the Department of Computing Sciences at the Nelson Mandela University, was the IITPSA Eastern Cape 2019 IT Personality and is widely recognised for his outstanding contributions to school and university ICT education in the Eastern Cape and nationally. He promotes IT careers and specifically programming, through the use of the TANKS app, to school children with limited access to computers throughout South Africa.

Since the launch of TANKS in November 2017, coding boot camps have been presented to tens of thousands of learners across South Africa, as well as in Zambia, Kenya and Norway. 

Professor Greyling was invited to UNESCO’s flagship Mobile Learning Week in Paris, where TANKS was one of 60 innovations to be showcased. [/fusion_text]