Female representation in senior management and executive roles in companies around the world remains low, however in South Africa it is stagnant.
Worse still, women make up a mere 10% of CEOs at the world’s biggest tech firms, so one can only imagine how low the number is in South Africa.
This is according to Zimkhita Buwa, the newly appointed CEO of Quintica South Africa, the market leader in service experience management, enabling businesses across the Middle East and Africa to evolve digitally.
For almost 20 years, Buwa has been a trailblazer in the innovation and digital space, working her way up from SAP Business Intelligence Analyst at an African-based energy group, to Chief Operating Officer at a well-known software development house, and later becoming Head of Intelligent Business Applications Core Practice at a global systems integrator and managed services provider for hybrid IT.
Since 2016, she has served on the board of Silicon Cape, a non-profit organisation that promotes technology entrepreneurship in the Western Cape, Africa’s Tech Capital.
Her numerous accolades include winning the Techwomen Emerging Leader and MTN Outstanding Women in ICT awards, as well as being nominated for the Digital Female Awards in the category of Global Hero, representing women who follow diverse global goals and shape the world around them with their digital mindset.
Now, she will be leading a local tech business focused on automation in a digital-first business world.
The new CEO believes that it is crucial for organisations, particularly tech companies, to have women in leadership roles both from a business perspective and to accelerate gender equality. “After all, it is 2021 and businesses need to move with the times if they want to succeed.”
She notes that gender diversity in executive teams increases the likelihood of financial outperformance by 25% and that privately held tech companies headed by women achieve 35% higher returns on investment.
Allan Cawood, Quintica Chairperson, says, “If you consider the transformation agenda in South Africa, whether it’s the economy, Black Economic Empowerment or bringing women into businesses, these are business imperatives today. I believe that any company that wants to not only succeed, but lead in the South African economy, needs to prioritise this.”
He adds that Quintica was founded on the ethos of ‘big things, great people.
“Our transformation has evolved beyond a gender and race lens to recognise capability delivery, something which Zimkhita has proven over the course of her 17-year long career where she was entrenched in some of South Africa’s – and the world’s – foremost tech companies, not to mention her involvement in the African tech ecosystem in her personal capacity. With Quintica uniting technology and human capability to accelerate business outcomes, I see her appointment as the beginning of our next evolution. Her history with giants in the tech industry, coupled with her experience, have positioned her to step into a local business to provide the diversity in thinking needed to take Quintica forward.”
In her new role, Zimkhita Buwa hopes to empower emerging businesses, enable transformation, and get big business to support local businesses.
“By focusing on those outcomes, living out our purpose, being obsessed with our clients, continuously exploring new technologies, as well as how we drive new services to clients, I think there’s an opportunity for Quintica to achieve significant results,” she said.
She will also continue to empower other women and drive transformation not only within Quintica, but the ecosystem too. “Women empowerment is part of my DNA. It’s what I’ve lived and breathed throughout my career, so I’m not about to stop now. Quintica is a champion of diversity, and we will scale this through initiatives such as skills development via our internship programme, enterprise development, and supplier development. Essentially, it’s about continuing the work that I’ve been doing, before ‘women in tech’ became a buzzword.”
Quintica’ s annual internship programme has seen young women being given the opportunity to not only enter the industry but also receive the training they need to succeed, with the female participants typically outnumbering the males.
Zimkhita Buwa shares that Quintica doesn’t just offer an internship programme, rather it crafts out a development path for each individual participant.
“Currently, one of the company’s first female interns is now managing the entire service desk after being equipped with project management and client engagement skills, in addition to the IT skills she initially acquired. It is initiatives like this that I plan to strengthen within the organisation and expand into other areas of the business.”
In addition to her appointment as CEO, Zimkhita Buwa is a board member and shareholder participating in the equity of the business.
She believes that making an impact lies not just in being a CEO, but in having a proper seat at the table by being a shareholder and board member.
Buwa concludes by saying, “I want young women entering the industry to know that it is possible to lead organisations and that the technology sector is evolving. With companies like Quintica being part of that evolution and entrusting their organisations into a woman’s hands, the game is changing.”