Phumzile Nase, a site integration technical director at Huawei South Africa.
Phumzile Nase, a site integration technical director at Huawei South Africa.

More black women must occupy leadership roles in ICT sector, says Phumzile Nase

By Mpiletso Motumi Time of article published Mar 12, 2021

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The world celebrated International Women’s Day on Monday under the theme #ChooseToChallenge, a theme that calls out to the world to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, released by the World Economic Forum, while there has been a significant rise in interest and adoption of technologies such as cloud computing, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI); female workers only make up an estimated 26% of workers in data and AI roles, 15% of workers in engineering roles and 12% of workers in cloud computing roles. The women who are in that space have been making a name for themselves.

Phumzile Nase, a site integration technical director at Huawei South Africa, studied construction and civil engineering.

Her job requires her to plan and construct mobile base stations for Huawei customers and she is currently working on data-only operator Rain’s 5G roll-out.

The 31-year-old said the most interesting part about working in ICT is dealing with day-to-day site solution and quality implementations, trying to save costs for the client and optimise that site solution.

“I have to deal with the customer and subcontractor to ensure that service proposal development meets both their expectations. I support in service bidding, service cost calculation, technical delivery solution implementation, high level tower design and technical site survey.

“I also ensure the engineering quality on site meets clients’ requirements, Minimum technical risk and issue management, monitor material quantities and consumption (BOQ) etc.”

Nase believes there has never been a more dynamic period for women, and more importantly black women, to hold such positions.

“Gender diversity clearly continues to present not only a key challenge, but also a significant opportunity for the future of our industry. Huawei Technologies has given me opportunities to show everyone that it’s possible for a female to be a technical director, thus leading the way for institutionalising women in management and technical positions.

“Like any other position, to earn the respect and professional recognition I had to put in the work. That is what I did; I started as a site designer to a team leader and worked my way from project to project.

“Yes, there were times when I felt under-appreciated because of my gender, but I didn’t let that detract me from the vision I had. I knew my worth and capabilities and quietly side-stepped the obstacles to prove my worth.”

The major challenge she faced in her career has been adjusting to the work environment and the demands.

“I initially struggled to keep up with the work requirements. I had to take time to understand the work, I had to devote more hours to my work and seek help where I needed it.

“I have learnt that as women in this industry we have to be a lot stronger emotionally than our male colleagues, otherwise we will not be heard or be respected.

“I strongly believe that my kindness, compassion, intelligence and spirituality is what helped me to deal with most of the issues. It’s easy to be aggressive and condescending to your subordinates, but I believe that listening and being empathic is the best way to manage staff and to get their full co-operation in their work.”

Her advice to women who want to pursue a career in ICT is to focus on being hard workers and always have determination.

“It’s going to be difficult and challenging but always remember that with hard work and determination nothing is impossible. Working for Huawei has truly made me a stronger woman. I full-heartedly love my work and I have learnt a lot in the past four years.

“I strongly believe in continuous self-improvement, willingness to learn and grow to benefit yourself, the project and the company as a whole should be the goal. The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand. Regardless of the obstacles in the way, we must persevere to achieve our goals as women.”

The Star

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