Women in Tech Africa is part of the world’s biggest Women in Tech conference series. This event empowers individuals and associations to interface, learn, and make a move on gender diversity and inclusion in the world’s fastest-growing industry.
This year’s conference was the first Africa edition of the #WinTechSeries, held in Cape Town, a two day event comprising five tracks with over 70 speakers. The conference saw more than 700 tech experts assemble to share their experience of the sector and addition motivation from a portion of the main figures in this flourishing industry.
Through uplifting keynotes, profound knowledge into tech patterns and business techniques, specialised classes, and profession improvement workshops, such a gathering gives all the content and networking opportunities needed to flourish in the tech sector.
Haidi Nossair: Ambition and Advancement
The programme kicked off with a talk on "Ambition and Advancement" from Haidi Nossair, Marketing Director, Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Dell Technologies.
Haidi shared inspiring stories about her journey as a woman in technology and also spoke on diversity and inclusion.
"Gender diversity should be more than just words on a PowerPoint. It is what all organisations should be doing today, right now, for our future."
Closing the corporate gender gap isn’t a side issue, it’s an economic necessity. Programmes and policies designed to reduce bias and ensure fairness don’t just benefit women, they benefit everyone. In the best workplaces, the most talented people can rise, no matter who they are. Companies with diverse management are more likely to develop new and innovative products.
The digital economy we live in unravels a great opportunity to increase women’s contribution to the workplace, but we must all do our part. We must combine our collective resources and energies to ensure that diversity is a core part of how we do business.
Mavis Ampah: 5 Career Lessons From a BADASS
Our second talk was from Mavis Ampah, CEO at Stinsad Consult. She spoke about upskilling fast to identify your path to seniority – from developing your confidence, taking credit for your work, to stepping up when opportunities arise and what is meant by "First. Only. Different."
"Say no with justification – you will gain respect."
Understanding the key characteristics of a leader. From strong communication skills, confidence, constant motivation, to being proactive in creating and seizing your own opportunities.
Overcoming deeply-rooted patriarchal obstacles such as unconscious and conscious bias to maintain a strong mindset and have a real seat at the table.
Identifying the key skills needed for major growth areas in tech and what to do now to ensure your skills stay relevant.
A number of profession improvement workshops followed, these were both practical and theory guided and were all amazing and very insightful. I would have loved to take them all, but each session had workshops happening simultaneously, hence, the only option was to pick a selection that I believed would be most beneficial.
Getting Started with React Native – A Hands-on Session to Build Real-world Applications
One of my favourite was an interactive and practical workshop on "Getting Started with React Native" by Raegan Harris and Muneeb Baderoen, which covered the fundamentals of React Native from the framework, syntax, best practices and ecosystem of building real-world applications.
It focused on showing us how to gain a clear understanding of what React Native is – from setting up a project, the tools needed, to debugging and learning about the core components (lay-out to styling), lists (ScrollView, ListView), to navigations and animations.
It further provided clarity on the standard app, understanding of the native modules and identifying best practice examples of how companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Skype and Tesla use React Native to capture the majority of the mobile ecosystem.
Tech's Role in Solving Africa’s Unemployment Crisis – Panel Discussion
Another exciting session was a panel discussion on "Tech’s Role in Solving Africa’s Unemployment Crisis". The panel of experts had an honest conversation about what can be done on both a public and private level to tackle this huge economic issue in Africa’s foremost tech hubs.
It touched the fact that even before we start thinking about smart cities and robotics and so forth, it is important to first understand the markets and see where unemployment is a problem and then use our fantastic brains to find the solution.
An interesting point raised during this discussion by Gugu Nonjinge was that of inclusion.
"What really strikes me as important is having intergenerational conversations, be it in the tech industry or elsewhere. Young people seek inclusion simply because those who have made it, or are at the top of these industries, fail to deliver the economic progression that Africa actually deserves. This is seen in poor youth participation in elections and voter turnouts as young people are typically not included."
"Conversations that we have about Africa’s future need to include its future, the young people. If we do not harness that demographic and its potential, it could really be detrimental to Africa’s economic growth."
Asha Patel: Important Lessons Most People Learn too Late in Life
Another motivating talk was given by Asha Patel Head of Marketing @ Google South Africa on some "Important Lessons Most People Learn too Late in Life".
She openly expressed the fact that throughout our careers, we will always receive good and bad advice – but if we’re smart, we’ll be able to learn as much as possible from the mistakes of others and avoid the pitfalls that mature veterans experience late in their careers. She went on to define key career lessons everyone working in tech should take to heart early in their careers, how to learn from top mistakes people make when progressing in their career and hearing anecdotes about rising through the ranks in Africa’s tech scene.
There were so many other interesting profession improvement workshops that I learnt from, including:
- Testing and Test Automation Strategies for 2019
- Coding Trends to Take Advantage of In 2019
- Building and Maximising your Technical Skillset in 2019.
- Building and Scaling quality, Reliable Apps in Africa.
- How to Build Experience into Your Interfaces.
I could go on and on…
The Women in Tech Africa Summit 2019 was one life-changing experience that I will never forget and would like to thank all the organisers and sponsors of such an inspirational conference with great speakers and an awesome group of like-minded people. I’m grateful to have been part of those that attended.
From hands-on workshops, to helpful addresses and connecting with board members, if you are working in or intrigued by tech, this event is the ideal spot for you.