Mushfiqoh Samodien, a business Director at Aspire Solutions. Her story is about working herself up and building a multi-million company whilst learning on the job and has played such a key role in building the Cape Town community.
Her work experience spans across FMCG, Oil and Gas, Finance, Business consulting and change and transition management. She possesses strong business relationship management skills. This experience has effectively equipped her to play an integral role in the design aspect of business transformation and the applied use of business systems. With 16 years of experience in the IT environment, she has worked on both local and international enterprise information technology projects, in both private and public sector.
Aspire Solutions now offers learnerships and are actively looking to establish an internal internship program based on the Aspire Technology template which they have developed. In 2019 Aspire Solutions was a proud sponsor of the annual Women in ICT Seminar 2019 held at the University of Cape Town. Other developmental collaborations include partnering with networks such as the Womandla Foundation, in driving technology awareness, women empowerment and community skills training for women and girls.
Her whole drive is about the value and impact of women in leadership. She also shares her story and other experiences, through her upcoming book titled “The Woman Within” which is in the process of publication. Glamour caught up with Mushfiqoh to talk about her career, young woman joining IT, society misconception on IT and giving back.
For people that don't know you how would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself firstly as a hard worker, personable and sincere friend. I am a bold risk taker, a self-motivator and one who has not always had an easy life. I have taken ownership of creating my own destiny, by means of seeking opportunities for growth and not forgetting my spirituality. If I had a ‘me’ growing up, someone willing to share lessons and vulnerability to shape a better me, I definitely would have done things a lot differently. I am truly passionate about giving back in any shape or form I am able to, and if part of it is sharing my journey in hope that it resonates with others. I am an enabler for others, I love to encourage people to see their worth; then I have achieved something for mankind.
What are some of your highlights working in the IT environment?
My first independent project was 18 years ago and seeing it through successfully was a highlight for me, also seeing the value brought to the organisation this was implemented within was a win.
• IT is an evolutionary environment, honestly not an industry I would have thought of 20 years ago, purely by means of not understanding the potential and breadth of the industry. No day being the same and the reward of successful implementations is thrilling. The benefits of then becoming an entrepreneur and interacting with people across various roles is something I always look forward to and the challenge to have a voice within a largely male dominated industry.
• Having started at the bottom in Administration, I pride myself on having a deep understanding of the various roles and understanding the needs within most of them.
• Having found the foundation within a global ERP platform and utilising my skill across industry.
• Another Key highlight to mention is facilitating a system change across Africa for a global company and knowing they had faith in allowing me to do this on my own.
• Most recently, I have been involved with local government and facilitating an innovative change which will add value to our economy and have an impact on society on a whole.
What should young girls be taught about IT?
IT is all around us, and the global effect of the current pandemic should be a lesson for young girls to forge their future and educate themselves on the roles that exist within IT. As it is ever changing industry and impacts our daily lives, so too does a role exist which ignites passion and that would surely align to their personalities and goals. Are you creative? So how about going in UX Design (User Experience) in simple terms what the client sees. Are you good at planning and have a good sense of communication or facilitation? Try Project Management which is also not restricted to IT. Do you see yourself as an introvert, hoarding ideas or you are an academic? Then software development is a suggestion for you.
Society has put a stereotype around IT and placed it as predominantly a male field, how has it transformed over the years?
As IT was labelled, the benefit of the transformation comes from the same female stereotypically reviewed with benefits. Women are seen as planners (running a household, planning vacations, planning a school week with extra-murals, also as simple as planning a day with household chores?). The benefits of women in an ever-changing environment has definitely been on the rise with the benefits of a woman’s resilience to apply the same passion to roles fulfilled within IT. Men are starting to accept that implementing a software system requires user adoption, which in turn requires the attention and nurturing attributes women bring to the table. After all, men have always admitted that multi-tasking was done better by women, today as we utilise methodologies within IT which have expanded based on doing things simultaneously - which most women do well.
What are some misconceptions that society has about IT?
The simplest one, IT is not only about the handheld, PC or Laptop it is about the application and the value it brings to a business and humanity on a whole. IT is not just for the ‘nerd’ in a server room, it is for people who are passionate and support the ever-changing environment.
In your industry have you seen any more movement to gender equality in the workplace?
Most definitely, if anyone is asked what would balance the scale even better? It would be having more women interested within the ICT Industry. The clients and partners I have been involved with over the past 6 years, if I were to pin it, have consciously worked on encouraging women in their companies. Along with knowing a few other companies such as ours, that encourage learnerships which eventually lead to prominent roles for women too.
Do you think to be a woman is to be abolitionist?
Not at all, in my opinion I see a rise in women being empowered and uplifted and valued by her own unique grit. Give a woman a seed and watch a garden flourish.
To you, what is the most beautiful thing about being a woman?
The ability to empathize and utilize heart more proactively, to negotiate and stand firm in my beliefs gracefully.
What are some of the great possibilities about being a woman in the world right now, that may not be easy to see but you feel women should take full advantage of without being ashamed or afraid?
The platform society has created within equality and a woman's worth, to be celebrated and see the opportunities if we seize the moment, the support we can receive if we are more open-minded and accepting of our worth.
How would you define success?
Success for me is adding value to another to either an individual or seeing the value add within organisations. Doing it proudly and fairly. Knowing that the outcome is based on true passion and the eagerness to push ahead. To know that we have created a base for staff/colleagues that is real and where people are supported.
Why is giving back so important to you?
Having not had the easiest road, it is important to remain true to society and give back by not forgetting that I was once that person sitting without direction. I didn’t always have certain privileges and have become that person that uplifts another, as it takes one act of kindness to another to affect change and outlook on life. Giving back allows us to remain grateful and have a heart, which keeps us humble.