The journey has somewhat come full circle as far as WSU is concerned for one of the institution’s  brightest and most dynamic academics, whose passion for ICT was first ignited during an IT tutorial programme for Grade 12 championed by the then Border Technikon Computer Society more than 20 years ago.


WSU IT lecturer in the Applied Informatics and Mathematical Sciences Dr Sibongiseni Tunzelana Thotsejane, who holds a PhD in Information Systems from UCT and also currently studying towards a doctorate in Business Administration with the University of Bath in the UK, has been crowned by the Inspiring Fifty Campaign, as one of the most Inspirational Women in South African Technology and Innovation for 2017.


A total of 252 nominations for the tech industry’s most influential women in the fields of academics, entrepreneurs, corporate, journalism and venture capitalism, were made across the country through the Inspiring Fifty Campaign. The campaign launched the awards for the first time in South Africa in cooperation with the Kingdom of the Netherlands and #CoCreateSA.


The project, initiated by Dutch duo Janneke Niessen and Joelle Frijters, is aimed at celebrating and lauding women’s efforts in the technology-related sector, and then leveraging that exposure to encourage the fifty to inspire young girls and point them out to opportunities available to them.


“The person and organisations that nominated me in April 2017 nominated me on the basis of having been a co-founder and Chief Information Officer of FlavaLite Innovations, a multi-award winning ICT start-up. The award has motivated me to put in more effort in inspiring and serving more people consciously, especially my first-year students that I serve at WSU,” said a humbled Tunzelana.


Flavalite Innovations, a 100% women-owned and black-owned company which Dr Tunzelana co-founded in 2011 with her sister Unathi Tunzelana, and friend Matsepo Africa, is a ground-breaking technology company aimed at pioneering innovative products in Information Technology (IT) service delivery.


”Our vision is to pioneer innovative IT solutions, including convenient and secure e-ticketing services for events management companies, governments, entertainment companies, sporting events, inspirational events, innovators and early adopters. We also want to blaze a trail in web analytics strategic solutions,” said Dr Tunzelana.


Her dynamism in the field is matched only by her experience, just over two decades worth, which has seen her transcend the disciplines of business and academia.

Dr Tunzelana has amassed her stripes as an astute, techno-savvy academic and leader in some of the biggest institutions in the world, including Google, where she conducted research on innovation at the company. She also conducted extensive research in the area of Internet Analytics in Canada at Ryerson University’s Institute for Innovation and Technology Management.


“I was the first and former CIO at the Victoria and Alfred (V & A) Waterfront in Cape Town. I’ve added value in leadership workshops for the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) and Science, Engineering and Technology for Women (SET4W). I’ve also done a program by Innovation Hub and Maxum in collaboration with the University of Baltimore in the USA for a program for Women in ICT,” she said.


Her passion, innovation and dynamism in the lecture hall have endeared her on her colleagues, and, most importantly, her students.


Dr Tunzelana uses her wealth of knowledge and entrepreneurial flair and talent facilitate learning and treat each Student as an individual to prepare them for either being an entrepreneur or for them to be better positioned for being employable.


“I also reach out to some of my Mentors and Associates that I have met globally to come and assist me as Guest Lecturers. I make use of video’s, mobile devices, digital platforms and social media to facilitate Teaching and Learning.”


“I expose first-year Students to tools and methodologies of doing research, critically thinking, reasoning, reflections, working as an individual, working within a group, having spiritual values, living their own defined values and being free to dream without limits,” she said.


So passionate is Tunzelana about WSU that she, as part of her responsibilities as one the winners of the competition, has placed the University as a top priority in her submissions to the Inspiring Fifty Campaign as a means to produce solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the institution.


Her submission includes the facilitating of sustainable linkages for exchange programs for Lecturers of WSU to the Netherlands; linkages for work integrated learning (WIL) and experiential training for Lecturers of WSU to the Netherlands; sustainable linkages for exchange programs for Students of WSU to the Netherlands; Sustainable linkages for experienced and qualified Guest Lecturers with Applied Expertise to WSU from every part of the world; as well as funding for adding to the core functions of WSU namely: teaching and learning, research and community engagement.


By: Thando Cezula

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