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Get To Know: Ian Englebrecht, Systems Engineering Manager – Africa, Veeam Software

Get To Know: Ian Englebrecht, Systems Engineering Manager – Africa, Veeam Software

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What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?

At Veeam, I measure success through my team and my customers’ achievements. I wouldn’t place just a single achievement as remarkable, but I would say that I have many memories of success through my customers and colleagues. I often reflect on the achievements of those in my team and their growth in terms of their skills, competencies and expertise. It is rewarding to see the difference this makes to overall morale as well as to the positive impact they bring to our customers’ experiences with Veeam.

Ian Englebrecht, Systems Engineering Manager – Africa, Veeam Software.

What first made you think of a career in technology?

I always wanted to follow my parents’ footsteps into construction but when I displayed an aptitude for IT and a natural interest, it made sense to pursue a career in technology. It’s always easier to learn something that you have passion for and learning new technologies has been relatively easy for me because I genuinely enjoy it.

What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?

I lead with trust and inclusion. I feel that trust in your team is the most important quality for any manager. Including one’s team members in decision-making is important for overall team participation and success. I prefer to be someone who helps, guides and assists the greater team. The important thing is to create an environment where my team can comfortably reach out for assistance and guidance in their day-to-day tasks or any other areas. Recognition of achievement is also key, as it shows gratitude for the ability to execute. I also believe that encouraging a team to ask for help when needed – no matter where they are in terms of seniority – solidifies a team and makes it more effective. We all learn from one another. It’s the old adage of ‘the whole being more than the sum of its parts’, which is what a high performing team is.

What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?

Cybersecurity is a hot topic, and it’s also quite broad. Cybercrime is something that will not go away and as companies adapt to new and innovative technologies, they also need to be mindful of the potential security threats that new technologies could – and will – bring. This is not to say we must hold back on innovation or Digital Transformation, as these are key drivers for any organisation’s success. Ensuring a security-first, availability-always approach is identified when implementing and adapting new technologies provides a sound foundation for their future success.

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

I tend to do activities that require my full focus, forcing me to disconnect from the workplace and redirect my thoughts about work to the activity I’m busy with. I enjoy technology home automation projects that require coding. At the other extreme, I like to wakeboard and race my quad bike which also requires my full attention. Another activity would be cooking and trying new challenging recipes that require me to focus and follow instructions. Keeping my mind busy with a different task that has a tangible reward at the end can bring clarity or a new perspective for when I return to making decisions and being involved in work-related events.

If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?

I don’t believe in changing the past because I believe success is built from failures. But in saying that, when it comes to ever-evolving technology, if I knew then what I know now, I would have benefitted even more from that information or IP, because I would have understood its importance and been more motivated in my learning during my earlier days. It’s never too late to learn something new.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

Those major areas (which are also quite broad) are security, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). With cryptocurrencies, NFTs and similar, it is becoming more obvious that data is the new currency of the world. We’ve long spoken about data being the lifeblood of any organisation, and that becomes even more true every day that passes. The obvious investment would be to protect such assets and your data through backup, protection, security and cyber resilience measures.

With data being the new currency of the world, you have technologies like AI and ML to help get the most of your data and increase the value of your currency, better understand your data, and allow it to work for you by gaining insights and enhancing automation processes while creating data autonomy.

What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Africa?

With ever-growing and changing technologies, new skills are needed. My view is that certain technology advancements are desired but not yet achievable because of the lack of skill to execute the innovation. Education is key to staying relevant and keeping ahead of the game, which provides the ability to test and develop cutting edge solutions or even move onto the bleeding edge of innovation.

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?

We’ve seen the global pandemic entirely change the way we work. We have had to adapt to new ways of engaging in our job responsibilities. Although some processes have become more productive, others have become lessons learned. I see the next 12 months, developing a working model that encompasses the benefits of the traditional and the benefits of the new norm to create a mutually beneficial workplace.

What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?

Look towards a role model or mentor as this will help shape the idea of who you would like to grow towards. If you are honest, this will build trust amongst your team and colleagues. Being transparent and open also demonstrates respect to those around you, and lastly, never stop learning.

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