Regardless of the type of business you’re running, or even the industry that you’re operating in, to say that strong female leaders are important is something of an understatement. In truth, they’re essential – not only for providing a much-needed perspective on the direction that a business is taking but also in terms of the types of qualities that they bring to the table that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
One of the most invaluable traits that female leaders bring to the table is their sense of awareness. They typically try to look at the bigger picture first, but then break a situation down into the finer details to see what is really going on underneath.
Women in leadership positions tend to practice the Golden Rule with great efficiency. Standing out with these significant traits is Setsoto Hlohlomi, President, BasaliTech.
Under her guidance, BasaliTech has held various initiatives since its inception. These include a mentorship program where women in tech were assigned a mentee in technology education to provide insight into opportunities and challenges the women face and how these young girls can successfully navigate them.
In an interview with CIOLook, Setsoto shares valuable facts highlighting her leadership qualities and her professional tenure in the niche.
Below are the excerpts from the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at BasaliTech. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
This all began with a career in technology, where I was one of the very few women in the department. While our societal norms are evolving to accept women into such roles, the gender gap in itself was and to some extent still is intimidating. Through a passion for learning and a love for technology, I quickly climbed from junior to more senior technical roles in technology and eventually leadership positions.
Being a leader is both challenging and fulfilling. Leaders are constantly faced with pressures that come from decision-making, which can give people the misconception that we have to be perfect and should know it all. And yet, it is basically the capacity to cement efforts from multiple divisions and people to achieve that vision we have.
The most recent highlight of my career was obtaining my master’s degree in management from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, in 2022. This has significantly shaped me as a leader, and I have grown so much – from working with people to strategy and it has renewed my passion for knowledge sharing and mentorship. This led to me facilitating a leadership program recently held by BasaliTech.
I believe having a mentor, is one of the ways we can pave our way to being successful as people. Mentors, whether formal or informal, offer guidance, perspective and opportunities. With women significantly outnumbered in the technology industry and worse in leadership positions, it has been harder finding women mentors.
Balancing work and life can also be a challenge, especially with a growing family. And there still exist some stereotypical expectations of being a woman leader that can make it a bit harder. The skills I have acquired, have played a great role in my leadership position at BasaliTech, as well as in acquiring a Cloud Support Engineer Role at AWS.
Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.
BasaliTech is a non-profit organization that I founded and registered in Lesotho. With technology being one of the most rapidly growing and evolving industries, we aim to democratize technology education and impart the African youth with technology skills through various means, to equip them with the right skills to thrive in this era.
The gender gap in the technology sector remains a concern, with women significantly underrepresented in technical roles as well as leadership positions. It is also our mission to tackle this by driving initiatives that encourage young girls and women to pursue technology education and careers.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted the IT niche through your expertise in the market.
Since our inception in 2018, we have held various initiatives that I have led. These include a mentorship program where women in tech were assigned a mentee in technology education to provide insight into opportunities and challenges the women face and how these young girls can successfully navigate them.
We have also held website development boot-camps to provide introductory knowledge in building websites as insight into one of the growing careers in technology. As a technical trainer and mentor, I have been at the forefront of these.
As the diversity in technology careers increases, we released a series of videos describing the various careers in technology to guide the youth and to inform them about the opportunities available.
This was done with the support of our volunteers, that are experts in the technology field. Finally, we have hosted the nation’s first technology conference, TechCon Lesotho, for two years.
It gathered experts to discuss technology trends, opportunities, and how these can be utilized for a better Africa. We have engaged 500+ through our in-person initiatives and over 5000+ remotely through our media platforms.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
BasaliTech is currently a small organization that values positive societal impact and driving change. We understand that partnerships will help us achieve our goals and that our team is at the core of delivering value to our customers.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
Technology has assisted in our mission to reach more people. We have constantly used the internet and social media platforms to deliver our message as well as training content. Using video editing tools has aided us to digitize career guidance videos and our training content, allowing us to have them accessible online when we would have otherwise held them in person. This way, we continue to reach more people.
What change would you like to bring to the IT industry if given a chance?
Aligning myself closely with our organization’s mission, the change I would love to effect is to drive and encourage the inclusion of women in the technology industry. To see more women taking up technical roles, they are passionate about and eventually leadership positions through our skills-sharing initiatives and networks. This directly contributes to the United Nations sustainable development goal 5 of empowering women and girls.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for BasaliTech?
My dream is to be a senior leader in a multinational organization through continuous personal development. For BasaliTech, the primary goal is to grow it and expand its reach. The current impact from the organization can be seen in Lesotho and neighboring South Africa. We aim to reach the rest of Africa through our initiatives, combatting these challenges on a continental scale.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the IT sector?
I have often seen people trying to lead teams and organizations they do not understand, which has always been detrimental. For example, to lead an IT team, you need to have some expertise in the field; this way, you will understand their pain and processes amongst other things. Having this basic knowledge of the territory will lead to better decision-making.
The IT sector is large, continues to grow, and is becoming very competitive. Find your niche, focus on that and never be afraid of change when it becomes necessary. Lastly, never stop learning. This is the quickest way to become irrelevant.