Who’s who of SA celebrates 60 years of SA ICT excellence at glittering awards night

The Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) has named Entelect CEO Shashi Hansjee as the 2017 IT Personality of the Year and Sasol CIO Alec Joannou as the Visionary CIO of the Year at the gala IITPSA 60th anniversary banquet and President’s Awards.

Titans of the industry gathered for the diamond awards banquet in Sandton last night to celebrate 60 years of South African ICT excellence and congratulate the winners of the prestigious IITPSA awards.

The IT Personality of the Year Award 2017, presented by the IITPSA in association with ITWeb, the Gordon Institute of Business Science and Gartner South Africa, recognises a person who has had an outstanding impact on the SA ICT industry over the past year. The accolade went to Shashi Hansjee, CEO of Entelect, who has helped drive significant growth in profit and the company’s move to a Deloitte ‘Best Company to Work For’. 

In accepting his award, Hansjee said: “At Entelect we work with a lot of businesses, and it’s hard not to be inspired by what we see in the South Africa ICT industry. We have people here tonight working in areas like better healthcare, education and financial literacy – these are things technology can do to really change our country. It’s an exciting thing to be part of. IITPSA has created an ecosystem and an industry we should all be proud to be part of. This award is recognition for the amount of investment we have put into building skills and supporting the community, and it’s a reminder that we have to keep on doing that.”

The Visionary CIO Award is presented by IITPSA in association with ITWeb, the Gordon Institute of Business Science, and Gartner South Africa to an executive in the corporate IT environment who has demonstrated visionary leadership in applying technology to grow and transform business. The 2017 winner, Sasol CIO Alec Joannou, leads a team of 400 permanent staff and over 600 contractors serving over 30 000 users across four continents; as well as serving as a trusted advisor to a number of boards including Unilever, Sappi, Anglo American and Sasol. 

Joannou thanked his team for their ongoing support and the judges for entrusting him with the role of Visionary CIO of the Year. “My commitment this year is to continue the work past winners have done. We have to elevate the role of the CIO – we have to become a lot more business oriented, becoming profit centres instead of cost centres. From a skills perspective, we have an opportunity for South Africa to participate in the 4th Industrial Revolution rather than just being disrupted by it. I hope to make a real positive difference in these areas this year.”

In addition to the Visionary CIO and IT Personality of the Year Awards, the IITPSA, in partnership with EngineerIT, presented its Distinguished Service in ICT Award recognising a significant, career-length contribution to the ICT industry, to Prof. Pete Janse van Vuuren, Director of The Thinking Cap; and the Fellowship of the Institute Award to the chairman of the IITPSA Innovation Special Interest Group, Wayne Mallinson.

IITPSA President Ulandi Exner noted that the IITPSA, founded in 1957 as the Computer Society of South Africa, was the third-oldest computer society in the world and its IT Personality of the Year Awards has been running for 39 years.

“We have grown from about 7,000 members to around 9,000 in the past year – an indication that people are recognising that professionalism in this country, especially in ICT, is very important.” She added that IITPSA reaches out to tens of thousands of children annually through its programs, and had this year introduced a comprehensive bursary. In future, IITPSA aimed to step up its women in ICT programs to close the 80-20 gap still evident in the industry.

Thanking supporters and sponsors Altron and Huawei, Tony Parry, Executive Director and CEO of IITPSA, said that past winners, representatives of the Australian Computer Society, and long-standing IITPSA members including industry veteran Joan Joffe, who has been an IITPSA member since 1965the late 1950’s, were among the guests at the prestigious awards and anniversary celebrations.

Mteto Nyati, Group Chief Executive of platinum sponsor Altron and himself a former winner of the IT Personality of the Year award, highlighted the importance of choices in life. “We all make choices, but in the end the choices make us,” he said. “This applies to individuals, companies and countries. Look at a country like Singapore, which in 1964 was at the same level as Ghana, and is now at number three in the world in terms of GDP – thanks to the choices it made. We all have a responsibility to make the tough choices and the right choices to take our country back to what it was meant to be. 60 years ago IITPSA was formed, now it grows year after year, and we as individuals and companies have to make the choices of how we support the institutions like this, which are so key to the development of this country.”