Integrity, diligence, flexibility and compassion are the basic qualities that every aspiring leader must possess. With such qualities, levitating a business to its utmost stature becomes easier for an individual. In addition, a leader must come up with new inventive proven strategies to boost the growth rate of the company, instead of re-implementing similar traditional business tactics. Meet Zimkhita Buwa, COO of Britehouse, one of such incentive leaders who understands the determination and tireless efforts required to flourish in fierce competition. And firmly believes in implicating new ideologies in order to contribute in the evolution of customary way of performing businesses. Moreover, her potential and adaptive skills have led her in achieving many impeccable milestones in her managerial journey.
CIO Look’s Women Leaders edition solely focuses on those women personalities who have diligently brought disruption in the world of business. And Zimkhita stands as one of them.
Here are the highlights of an interview between CIO Look and Zimkhita:
Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a proficient leader.
Prior to serving as COO, I fulfilled multiple roles within Britehouse as BI Manager, Account Manager and Regional Manager for Western Cape Region, where I made a great impact on our clients as well as on my teams. Prior to joining Britehouse, I was an award-winning SAP Analytics Consultant for nine years and served as chairperson of the Africa SAP User Group Business Analytics Special Interest Group. I was also one of only 200 SAP mentors, who were chosen globally for sharing technical knowledge and guiding young professionals in the South African SAP ecosystem. I have always subscribed to the philosophy that if you lift others, you will rise too. And I am a firm believer of the power in giving back. This philosophy led me to be selected as a fellow for the prestigious recognition in the Techwomen Programme in 2013, where I had an opportunity to be mentored by women in STEM fields of Silicon Valley. Due to my passion for promoting diversity in the ICT industry, I was also recognized as a winner of the prestigious Inspiring Fifty award, that admires women as tech trailblazers in the South Africa. I was also a Global Hero finalist in the 2018 Digital Female Leadership Awards that recently held in Munich, Germany.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal the target audience?
At Britehouse, we partner with the best technology providers including SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, and complement them with our own mobile and software products in order to ensure customers satisfaction. Being a division of Dimension Data Company, we’re able to leverage a wealth of world-class expertise. We offer a number of solutions ranging from assisting organizations assess where they are on their digital transformation journey, and the steps they should take to deliver the greatest return on investment, right through to a complete outsourced solution.
We diversify our offerings by being obsessed with the product delivery to our clients. The more we know about our clients and their specific business challenges, the closer we’ll get to understand what solution will be the best suited to deliver their desired business outcomes. We also have to conduct market research to identify the strengths of our offerings, as perceived by our existing and potential clients. We’re also acutely aware of our clients’ need to simplify their applications landscape and thus, we’re constantly seeking ways in which we can package and standardize our solutions whilst reducing cost and delivering business value to our clients.
Describe some of the vital attributes that every business personnel should possess.
There is an array of factors that contribute to the success of any business, i.e. having a robust strategy, the leadership team, effective and proficient processes, products and services that delight clients.
Our CEO, Ed Gassner and I have discussed this topic of vital attributes at length. We see these attributes as those that contribute to the “company personality”. The attributes which we mostly foster within Britehouse are:
Confident communicator—Great businesses are built by great employees who can work along together. And such behavior can only be attained by strong communication. A business’ external success in sales, marketing, PR, and any kind of collaboration is mostly dependent on your employees’ ability to communicate well. This is not just about expressing ideas coherently and consistently, but also about the ability to listen to your client, stakeholders, and colleagues and respond effectively.
Bringing authenticity in selfwork— authenticity has been proven to have a positive effect on job satisfaction, in-role performance and work engagement. When you are being your true self, you portray a natural sense of honesty and trustworthiness. These attributes will make it much easier for colleagues and the clients to trust you and build relationships of substance with you.
Learn to thrive in times of uncertainty—most people do not like ambiguity or uncertainty, but they are also often the only constant in this fast-changing technology world. Often one is expected to make decisions without knowing facts or the certainty of what is going to happen. If one is willing to accept ambiguity and uncertainty and not let them paralyze you from trying new things, you ultimately enhance your value to the organization. Being adaptive to different and unexpected situations is an important skill, that I believe every employee should have.
Have you in any ways contributed towards the cause of women empowerment?
I have supported organizations that helped young girls to gain access and exposure to the technical world of 2018. Some of these organizations include Girlhype, Taungana Africa, and Code4CT. I also started the Women Portfolio of Siliconcape, which is a non-profit organization that aims to promote Cape Town as a global technology hub. I speak regularly about women in technology at events and constantly advocating for the women representation in the ICT industry in South Africa. I also run my own blog, Techpearls—a platform where women in STEM can have access to global opportunities. Besides, I value the fact of working for an organization that shares the value of making a difference in the community. As an organization, Britehouse utilizes the technology to enable customers to improve the way they do business. Britehouse believes it is our responsibility to utilize these skills and technologies for the betterment of our communities.
The organization has embarked on various empowerment initiatives that have a lasting impact, not only on the communities in which Britehouse operates, but in the organization as well. Britehouse seeks out like-minded partners to create upliftment opportunities for South Africans.
What are your insights on the necessity of ’Women in position of power’?
And, how could it bring out a change in traditional male dominated industries? It is necessary for business to have diverse leadership as this will likely lead to improved profits. Granted, this is not breaking news however such realities were substantiated in a 2014 report from McKinsey & Company, including a report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics. These findings were further confirmed by a report released by McKinsey titled “Delivering through Diversity,” released in 2018, which shows that gender diversity in management positions actually increases profitability more than previously thought. In the firm’s previous analysis, companies in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15% more likely to experience above-average profits. The latest data shows that likelihood has grown to 21%.
I couldn’t agree more with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma when he confirmed that women are his company’s “secret sauce”. He attributed “sauce” to the fact that women care more about others than they do about themselves. Women tend to be nurturers by nature and this is a key attribute for leading high-performance teams. I recently delivered a talk on the feminine leadership and the importance of adopting a unique leadership style to ensure a higher level of collaboration, creativity and innovation. That mostly comprises of some essential attributes such as empathy, compassion, patience and humility.
How do you upgrade yourself with vital technological trends to boost your personal growth?
I am blessed to work for a global organisation and I have access to the brightest minds and exposed to many opportunities to learn, everyday.
I was also fortunate enough to be part of the Dimension Data Global Fast Track Programme, which is an intensive nine-month management acceleration programmer, run by the IE Business School in Madrid. The courses included Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Finance.