The first-ever Future of Work Virtual Conference – hosted by CNBC Africa, in partnership with Forbes Africa – surpassed its goal of outlining digital opportunities for business in Africa, reaching more than 2 000 viewers across the globe with the live broadcast on Thursday, 20 August. But more than this, the conference showcased the impact being made by women in the field of technology, most of whom have had to successfully navigate a male-dominated industry to have their voices heard.
“The conference sought to highlight the many ways in which the continent can leverage new technologies for business growth, and it’s through platforms, such as these, that we are levelling the playing field and giving women the chance to show the world what gender equality really means,” explained Roberta Naicker, Managing Director of the ABN Group. “Female empowerment is not about ticking the politically correct boxes. It’s about actually giving women an equal opportunity to thrive in their chosen career, to listen and learn from them, and to acknowledge that, in many instances, they are having to overcome much more to achieve the status enjoyed by their male counterparts.”
Matching this calibre of women in the technological industry, the all-day virtual conference welcomed an esteemed panel line-up comprising a strong selection of female leaders. Included in Future of Work programme were:
– Rebecca Enonchong: Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AppsTech
Panel: Empowering the workforce to harness IoT and Big Data Analytics
– Algirde Pipikaite: Project Lead, Industry Solutions, and Centre for Cybersecurity for the World Economic Forum
Panel: Cybersecurity for the distributed, hyper-connected workplace
– Amrote Abdella: Regional Director of Microsoft 4Afrika Initiatives
Panel: Turbocharging productivity: what automation, machine learning and AI can do for your business
– Jacqueline Raw: Founder of Ycagel and SkillX, Sales and Marketing Strategist
Panel: Digital transformation and the distributed enterprise
– Alison Collier: MD of Endeavor South Africa
Panel: How Saas & Cloud computing can help African enterprises futureproof their business model
– Kavitha Prag: Supply Chain and Network Operating Lead within Enterprise Technology & Performance
– Canninah Mapena: MD and Country Sales Director for Rockwell Automation Introductory address
– Sannah Rajpurohit: Management Consultant in the telecommunications, media and technology space.
The need to shift mindsets, particularly in terms of women in traditionally male-dominated industries, is vital for both the cause of women, as well as the nation as a whole. In her SA FM interview ahead of the conference, Kavitha Prag recalls being one of two women in her electrical engineering class, with few female role models within the workplace. However, she believes the fundamental skills learnt within STEM fields provide a solid foundation for all industries.
“It (engineering) teaches fundamental problem-solving skills that you take with you, irrespective of whether you’re dealing with a core engineering design problem, or a business problem.
“These core skills are not only critical but essential for the progress of this country. Until we make this (apprenticeship) attractive …create an environment where these careers are aspirational, we’re going to suffer as a nation.”
For those who missed the live #FOWA2020 event, the speaker panel is available at https://www.cnbcafrica.com/future-of-work/