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Monday, 13 August 2018

Turning challenges into advantages

HAPPY: Liezel Ijambo is the new of IT Manager: Business Administration Systems. HAPPY: Liezel Ijambo is the new of IT Manager: Business Administration Systems.

For the first ten years of working in the IT department at the then Peninsula Technikon, Liezel Ijambo was the only woman in a team of about ten men. 

While that was a lonely experience, which has changed over the years, she found a surprising way to make the unwitting discrimination work for her.

Ijambo was administrating the GroupWise email system but had a dual function as a documentation control officer which meant making sure all policies and procedures were in place for auditing and compliance.

“I was the interface between the technical teams and the financial auditors for the IT Financial audit. And, I did a little bit of this and that which had nothing to do with the technical IT environment I was working in but it was because IT was predominantly male at the time, and I’m not stereotyping but, when there was anything to do with a piece of paper they gave it to the females to do,” she remembered.

Because Ijambo understood the technical environment it was easy to do technical writing of reports, feedback to auditors and write-ups of policies and procedures.

“It was tough for me to prove myself and I wasn’t the type of girl to be exempted from doing things like carrying PC’s around or getting under the desks to check network cables, so I was one of the boys, but it was difficult because you also have to retain your femininity.

“When I started doing this dual role of documentation control officer I realised I liked the non-technical stuff in IT, the things that had nothing to do with the cables and the PCs. I realised that I probably needed to re-skill myself.”

Ijambo had originally studied an ND Information Technology which was mostly programming oriented. She completed a BTech Quality just as CPUT was formed, with the merger allowing her to step away from LAN (local area network) administration into an IT Quality Officer role and later completed an MTech Quality.

That role evolved as industry standards changed and by 2013 she became an IT Risk and Compliance Officer reporting directly to then senior IT Director, Paul Tennant. Under his mentorship she grew the role, networking with the few similar officers in other High Education Institutions, learning on the job.

It took several applications to last week finally bag the role of IT Manager: Business Administration Systems, which she has been acting in for the past two years.

This puts her at the head of the unit responsible for providing support and delivery of the enterprise system on which all of CPUT’s core business administration processes run, like the payroll, finance or student administration systems.

“In IT every day is dynamic, every day is different, the rate at which you grow your competency and skills is exponential. The energy levels and multitasking in IT suits me,” she said.

Written by Theresa Smith

Email: smitht@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Applied Sciences and Engineering Faculties and the Wellington Campus.