In the life of a women in tech

Who is Jacqui?

Jacqui can be described as a rather crazy character by her friends and family. She is hardworking, outgoing and has a passion for seeing other people succeed in life. Away from work and upskilling, she spends time with her loved ones. She can often be found writing (poems, short stories and blog posts), playing games (PC or console – no exclusion here) and building puzzles. She has a “slight” obsession with unicorns and strongly believes that it is not her responsibility to maintain the opinion that other people have of her. She also has a love for sport and learning new things.


Jacqui started her undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree in 2015 at North West University (NWU) Vaal Triangle Campus. Early during her second year of studying, she was invited to become a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, having achieved an academic record in her first year that put her in the top 15% of her class. The next year she went on to become a part of the top 1% of the class.

While studying, Jacqui took on a few jobs to build up some experience – these included:

  • Coaching high school softball at Alberton High School
  • Supplemental instruction (SI) and facilitation at NWU
  • Lecturer’s assistant at NWU
  • Freelance graphic designer at Young Innovations
  • Social media management and IT consultation at Falatame Projects Pty Ltd
  • DSIDE worker at CSIR

During Jacqui’s third year of studying, an opportunity arose for her and a few of her peers to attend the SciGaIA conference held at CSIR. The conference welcomed CSIR (along with other well respected organisations) to pitch their initiatives that contributed to the aims and vision of the SciGaIA community. Two opportunities were created for Jacqui from that conference, namely: the opportunity to become a Data and Software Carpentry instructor as well as becoming a DSIDE vacation worker at CSIR where she was exposed to data science and data engineering practices.

Jacqui was invited to attend a Data and Software Carpentry training course after which she would have to perform an online facilitation lesson in order to become an instructor for The Carpentries. This opportunity took her to workshops at the University of Limpopo and North West University. She is still an instructor; however, she has not instructed a workshop within the past two years.

Jacqui spent four months, in total, working for CSIR during holidays (while finishing up her undergraduate degree) before moving on to Britehouse: A Division of Dimension Data where she spent a year and ten months working in different roles. Jacqui got to practically apply many concepts that she had been introduced to while studying at CSIR. This is where her sparkling love for Python was lit and spread. Jacqui quickly earned herself the nickname “Panda” for her avid fondness for using the library as broadly as she possibly could.

Jacqui’s journey with Britehouse started off with web development which she pursued for roughly eight months before exploring her keen interest in the data space. She went over to the Data Services department within Britehouse to work as a junior Business Intelligence (BI) developer. After seven months in the position, she was promoted to an intermediate Data Engineer position where she got to work on multiple projects, one of which was the ASO Race Center project which allowed her the opportunity to support the Tour De France data platform as well as multiple other races on the calendar. While working for the first year at Britehouse, she also completed her Honors in Computer Science and IT with Information Systems degree (as a full-time degree), top of her class, through NWU.

In November of 2019, Jacqui moved up into Dimension Data where she took the role of an Automation Architect where she currently works on automation solutions in the RPA, data and web development spaces. Jacqui will also be doing her technical master’s in computer science this year.

Jacqui’s journey throughout her career has been driven by a lot of self-learning, self-development and encouragement from motivational mentors.

How she got into IT?

My story of how I got into IT is a rather… “Unique”… One. In my matric year, I found myself at a crossroad of what to study – politics at the University of Pretoria or IT at North West University? To follow sport or not to follow sport? I received a bursary to study IT at NWU as I had placed third at the annual GeeXpo competition held at NWU Vaal Triangle Campus and took the opportunity with both hands.

Typical Day at Work

Any day that starts with coffee is a good day! Then there’s the daily “stand up” gatherings to enlighten the team of all of the tasks that have been done and those that need to be done, emailing the world, answering the world, automating the world… You know, operationalising the world.

PS – this was paraphrased from the words of a colleague who had a much better way of describing it :p

On a serious note, every day is different. Different people, different challenges, different opportunities and different perspectives present themselves each day.

Facing challenges as a Woman in IT

I have been fortunate in this regard. We are living in a society that is being pressured to let all people flourish. Women are becoming well-respected in most spheres of the industry, however, it goes without saying that there is still a lot to be done in this regard as we are faced with challenges where we, as women, end up in the IT industry not knowing where exactly we fit in or where our passion lies.

It becomes our responsibility, not only to encourage and motivate all individuals, but also to guide our peers to situations where they can be happy. I, personally, don’t know where I am going yet but what I do know is that I am on my way to find out and help anyone who is going in the same general direction.

In most cases in this industry, we own a little bit of knowledge that can help the next person and more often than not, we are selfish with the knowledge that we share. We are creating challenges for individuals who battle to bridge the gap between what they do know and what they don’t. We can help these people! We can remove pieces of these challenges, bit by bit.

Taking the above into consideration, let’s be aware of those who expect the answers to fall into their laps. We do face these challenges in the workplace and the best you can do to help someone with these expectations is to point them to the platforms that allow them to find these answers for themselves with your guidance along the way.

I cannot stress the importance of helping each other out in this day and age. We truly are stronger together where knowledge is power!

What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

My greatest wish in life is that stop being naïve about people’s intentions. It is ridiculous how easily certain grains of humanity will throw you under the bus to enrich themselves.

I wish that I had chosen to upskill more while studying and that I spent less time stressing unnecessarily. As great as stress can be for enhancing progress, we often lose track of what is important. There’s a balance in life that needs to be found. We have friends and family who are borrowed to us for a limited time span and we should never take that for granted because of unrealistic deadlines.

Learn… To say… No. There is no shame in saying no and I cannot stress this enough. People will try to plan your life and your time so that it suits them. As soon as this intrudes on your personal life and happiness, say no.

Advice for girls getting into the tech space

As a young lady, one of the best decisions you can make is joining a space where you can explore the future on your terms. The future of certain professions is debatably limited. Enter a space, any space, where you can see yourself continuing to grow fifteen years from now.

Going into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women in technology are in a position to help shape the future for the generations to come.

Upskill as much as you can, gain as much working experience as possible, learn when to say no and make sure that if it won’t matter in five years, don’t give it more than five minutes of your attention.

What is your motto in life?

After anything that happens… Good or bad… It is all fine. The great art of dealing with life sometimes starts by acknowledging what has happened, accepting it and then figuring out a plan on how to move forward.

“This is fine” – some wise person, somewhere in the world

Legacy to be left behind

Legacy is a very subjective topic. It means different things to different people and as such, I want my legacy to be meaningful, motivational and encouraging. I don’t yet know what my legacy will be yet but I sure do look forward to finding out!

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