Tumelo Thekisho

Systems Engineer - Planner, MTN South Africa

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Know your purpose. Keep the focus. Check your peripherals. Fight for what’s right. Be great.

What do you do?

In my current role as the Systems Engineer – Planner for the MTN SA Online Store (e-Commerce), essentially, I am the ‘Technical Design and Delivery Lead’ across multiple cross-functional (collocated and distributed) teams.

My core responsibilities are as follows:

Driving the technical design and delivery of products as well as perform capacity planning of services in line with business requirements and budgetary priorities within the IS - Service Delivery area for the MTN SA Online Store (e-commerce).

System analysis and design - producing along with reviewing living system logical architecture, snapshot, roadmap and project history documentation. Ensuring professional system documentation is always up to date.

Requirement analysis along with providing functional requirement and open API specifications to cross-functional (distributed and colocated) teams of multiple vendors.

Provide system consultation for all applications related projects so that decisions can be made as to the most appropriate delivery methodology.

Why did you choose this field?

Caring, detail-oriented, assertive are just a few of the characteristics which can be used to describe me. I have a heart for people and a mind in the world of technology. Thus, I am passionate about using Information Technology to solve the challenges faced in our local communities in a creative yet sustainable way.

Unwavering and eager, I approach challenges with enthusiasm, creativity and a ceaseless desire to succeed. My passion and drive paved the way to countless opportunities, unique experiences and exceptional relationships. These include, but are not limited to: being invited as a Conference Speaker for the 2020 Women in Tech Africa Summit and being nominated as a Semi-Finalist for the 2020 Accenture Rising Star Award; conscientiously serving as a Judge for the 2018/ 2019 UJ IT Projects Days and the 2018 BeBold Hackathon; speaking to students from SMU and at the 2016 Allan Gray NEXT industry event; achieving the 2015 Best Female Honours Student award from the UJ Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Over the course of my career, I have had the pleasure of undertaking several leadership roles (ranging from serving as the Head Prefect and first female Pipe Band Drum Major at my highschool, serving on the Kimberley Junior City Council, UJ Residence House Committee and on the Allan Gray Toastmasters Executive) along with numerous IT roles (ranging from Tutor to Test and Business Analyst to Systems Engineer) and partaking in a great deal of community engagement work (collectively fundraising over R250 000 across various initiatives). These experiences have not only taught me invaluable lessons in the power of education, being assertive and servant-leadership but have also equipped her with the skills and knowledge to consistently make an impact and develop my community.

All the powerful women in my life have sacrificed so much in their lifetimes for me to live an even better life than they ever dreamed of. They are bruised and battered from a lifetime of running into and eventually shattering the ‘glass ceiling’ so that all I need to do in mine is walk through. Therefore, living an average life as appose to living full out is not an option. It is fundamental to me to honour the GOD I serve along with my phenomenal parents (my grandmother and late mother).

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Two achievements come to mind:

Being the recipient of an award from Entelect and the University of Johannesburg in recognition of the Overall Best Female Honours Student in 2015 from the Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering (ACSSE).

Being invited as Conference Speaker for the prestigious Women in Tech Africa Summit.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I am "always in beta" and a servant leader by heart - helping my team progress together with me. I believe in leading by example and having an open-door policy – constant open and honest communication with the team members. As Robert Ingersoll eloquently stated that “we rise by lifting others”, ensuring the continuous development of all team member along with providing continuous and conscientious feedback are also fundamental.

The wonderful thing about IT is that it drives innovation and innovation is the path to business success. The convergence of business foster the astounding potential for sustainable impact - solving problems and adding value to the lives of a myriad of individuals.

As a young and ever-evolving woman of substance and significance, I am deeply committed to breaking boundaries, reshaping conversations, changing the dynamic, driving innovation and leaving a powerful legacy – ensuring that the voices of #WomenInTech are heard and heeded.

Best advice for next generation?

Every time I switch on the radio or browse through social media platforms, I can’t dispute the fact that something has to be done about so much happening in our hometowns, provinces country and planet right now. Instead of dismissing that responsibility on someone else, we need to realise that we can “be the change [we] want to see in the world”. As the next generation of women in STEM, be confident in the fact that you are young with a myriad of fresh and innovative solutions. Equipped with unique phenomenal gifts that are designed to change the world.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." - Nelson Mandela

Therefore, resting on your laurels is not an option. As it is not only a loss on your part, but it also robs the world of what could have been greatness beyond measure. It doesn’t make any sense for you to settle for mediocrity when greatness is you!

Know your purpose. Keep the focus. Check your peripherals. Fight for what’s right. Be great. Be.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

South Africa's former Public Protector put it so eloquently when she said, "As an African woman, I've learnt the importance of self-definition and living purposefully. It's vital that every girl determines as early as possible, who she is and what her contribution to humanity will be."

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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