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Leadership – President’s Address at CSSA Awards

Humans are no different from the rest of nature's creatures. Mostly, we live and work in groups. We are born into a family; we live in a home, a street, a village, a town. We are dependent on each other for survival to share the labour of hunting and gathering, of creating shelter and clothing, and the other necessities of life.

These small groups, these communities, do not exist in isolation - they interact with neighbouring groups and often coalesce into larger communities. Not much different from herds, prides, schools, gaggles, swarms, or flocks.

And each group thrives or dies according to the success of its cooperation in finding food and shelter and in raising the next generation, which implies the success (or failure) of its structure and organisation. How does that structure come about? Sometimes, it just seems to happen. We have yet to fathom how fish communicate, for example (pardon the pun).  But very often, a leader emerges. This may be the queen bee, the matriarch, or even the lion king. The leader establishes the rules of behaviour, sets the direction and provides (or organises) protection.

Although we often try to deny it (level playing field, equal rights), humans naturally seek leadership. Some seek to be leaders, others prefer to be led. Being the perverse creatures we are, we have turned the simple need for structured, functional communities into myriad complexities of monarchies, dictatorships, democracies, plutocracies and every flavour of socialism, communism and capitalism, layered with legacies of traditions, beliefs and norms.

The driver for all these methodologies is survival. If we were not organised, not sharing the tasks essential to get through today and to assure tomorrow, there would be chaos, anarchy, and destruction. The ecosystem that is this small delicate planet provides the resources and the environment and all of natures creatures have to find the balance that preserves the food chain. If we don't eat, we die. If what we eat dies away into extinction, we don't eat and we die.

So, we have been blessed with the ability to refine the model. To take the best examples of how nature's communities live and work together for mutual assured survival. And what do we do with that ability? We screw it up. In a big way. Greed. Power. Wars. Pollution. Mad.

Why? Because there are not too many hurdles to becoming a leader. No compulsory SAT scores, no exams, no aptitude tests. A little charisma, some muscle and you are set for life. Which means, of course, that we get some bad leaders along with the good. In spite of what some of them seem to think, no leader lasts forever they all have a sell-by date, no matter how excellently they may be serving their community.

Leadership is a privilege. It is not a right. Leaders should have no trappings beyond the resources needed to carry out their duties, the tools needed to inspire their constituents and gain the respect of their peers. Their mandate should be up for review continuously.

Every community is the reflection of its leaders. Saints or sinners, the leaders set the culture, the policy, the direction, the behaviour. Bad leaders abuse power, abuse citizens, abuse the environment and care nothing for the legacy they leave behind.  Good leaders head successful, sustainable communities through selfless application of wisdom, guidance and discipline. Great leaders do so through inspiration and sacrifice, through listening and caring. Such leaders never forget that they are the custodians of tomorrow; they never forget their duty to train successors to carry on the highest ideals for the next generation. The greatest leaders are not elected think about that.

We are here this morning to honour some of those leaders. People whose communities have benefited from their ability to see the big picture, to harness the talents around them and to enable a group of human beings to excel themselves. They may not see themselves as winners, as shining examples, as ambassadors, but let's trumpet their achievements loud and clear so that others can be inspired to follow in their footsteps.

Adrian Schofield
Computer Society SA

IT Personality of the Year Visionary CIO

Improved interaction between the industry and government is paramount, says Asher Bohbot, CEO of EOH.

We need to move away from trying to sell technology solutions to selling business solutions, says Sandi Macfie, CIO of Southern Sun Hotels.

IT Personality, Visionary CIO winners named

By Staff writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 10 Nov 2011

Asher Bohbot, CEO of EOH, has won the IT Personality of the Year 2011, and Sandi Macfie, CIO of Southern Sun Hotels, has scooped this year's Visionary CIO title.

The winners were named at the Computer Society of SA (CSSA) President's Awards Breakfast at the Hilton Hotel, in Sandton, this morning.

Now in its 33rd year, the IT Personality Award was presented by the CSSA, in conjunction with ITWeb, the Gordon Institute of Business Science and Gartner Africa.

The IT Personality award recognises a person who made an exceptional contribution to the local ICT industry over the past year.

Click here for full story.

Charity beneficiary
A portion of all the proceeds from the
CSSA’s President’s Awards breakfast will go towards the Papillon Foundation. This Johannesburg-based NGO focuses on empowerment for the poor through setting up computer literacy training centres. Click here to find out more.

IT Personality finalists for 2011

Asher Bohbot

Darlene Menzies
Managing owner
The Development House

Greg Reis
Business Systems Group

Mteto Nyati

Sean O'Connell

Visionary CIO finalists for 2011


Andrew John Brauer
Business Connexion

Bradley Coward
Group CIO

Mayan Mathen
Dimension Data MEA

Rubens da Silva
Johannesburg Water

Sandi Macfie
Southern Sun Hotels


Charity beneficiary
2011 Picture Gallery

In the news
Asher Bohbot clinches IT Personality of the Year Award
14 Nov 2011
The EOH CEO has been named the IT Personality of the Year for 2011.
People are key to success – Bohbot
11 Nov 2011
IT Personality, Visionary CIO winners named
10 Nov 2011
NGO to benefit from IT excellence awards
18 Oct 2011
IT Visionary CIO judging enters final stages
12 Oct 2011
IT Personality, Visionary CIO finalists named
3 Oct 2011
IT Personality, Visionary finalists named
21 Sep 2011

Event sponsor

Telkom Business is the business unit dedicated to serving businesses of every type, industry and size in and outside South Africa. The businesses that we serve range from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to large corporations, government organisations and global enterprises.

Gold sponsor

Business Connexion is a integrator of innovative business solutions based on information and communications technology (ICT). We run mission critical ICT systems for JSE listed companies and public sector.

Industry support
Thank you to the following companies that have already demonstrated their leadership in supporting the ICT industry, by purchasing a table at this prestigious event.







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With over 3000 members throughout South Africa, CSSA is widely recognised as a professional body for ICT practitioners.

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