Find out what makes Simbo Ntshinka, Managing Director at Itec Tiyende, tick in this ‘Get to Know’ feature.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
Managing the successful joint venture of Itec and Tiyende Telecommunications, positioning the business in the telecommunications space and the broader ICT sector in South Africa. I had some good wins in some major projects in managed print services and enterprise telephony. These were very large projects for the company and have set the bar in the group.
There are three key achievements at Itec Tiyende:
- The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) managed print services project in 2007. It was the first and largest managed print services national project embarked on by the Itec Group and it set the bar.
- Department of Justice (DoJ) PBX/Telephony project in 2015 – this was the single largest Mitel telephony project to be won by Tiyende and Itec as a group. The record still stands.
- Achieving Level 1 B-BBEE certification for Itec Tiyende in 2018, entrenching the company as one of the ICT industry’s BEE leaders.
- Recognised as the Top Empowerment Company in the ICT category at the recent 18th annual Top Empowerment Awards in April 2019
What first made you think of a career in technology?
With a background in mechanical engineering and managerial finance, I started out as General Manager at Itec Tiyende in 2006. I was then tasked with establishing a sales team that would focus on the public sector and then large corporates. However, I debuted my career at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) as an engineering trainee and technical trainer in fluid (water) mechanics and later moved on to the Professional Technical Group as a management consultant and went on to pursue a career in document management and printing technologies. Information Technology has always captivated me. I saw joining the industry as a natural progression to what I always wanted to do.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
My leadership style is most heavily influenced by leading with vision. The motivator to this being passion. I tend to keep a very firm eye on to the future, ensuring that our teams always work towards a substantial, long-term goal.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Over the next year we will continue to see clients requiring technology partners that simplify solutions for them and a partner that is easy to engage with – especially in volatile times where needs are constantly changing – yet additional investment is not an option. This means optimising solutions within current structures to provide effective business outcomes – with less effort. The industry is evolving so rapidly that companies are worried about the correct product or service to choose, they need guidance and a trusted partner to advise them on this – this will be a main business driver in the technology.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I enjoy playing golf and am an avid reader of biographies, history and business literature.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
I do not have any career regrets.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
The industry’s efforts to drive empowerment, transformation and skills development have lost momentum in recent years, and while multinationals have well-established go-to-market channels in South Africa, there is more that can be done to empower and create a dynamic local partner network.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Africa?
Technology advances are mostly in big cities. Our concern is that there is too much concentration to urban areas, thus disadvantage the already disadvantaged rural folk.
Rollout and deployment of high-speed fibre for instance is still very limited to urban centres. We see legacy 2-3G still very much prevalent in rural arears; and yet 5G deployment is around the corner.
Technology and its advance must be equitable if we are to reduce the inequality gap.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
In South Africa, executive entrepreneurs are faced with many challenges. You need to be a well-rounded executive, not just a technical capable manager. We are faced with ever challenging labour issues, statutory and regulatory issues. These matters are very difficult for entrepreneurs to comprehend.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
You constantly need to adapt to changes around you and have the ability to lead and influence situations, so you remain relevant. Be practical, be driven, be courageous, be accountable. I do not subscribe to self-entitlement. Believing in one-self is what drives me.