As a business, we love to celebrate our people and their achievements; without them, we would not be where we are today. We particularly want to showcase our women leaders and the trailblazing contributions they have made to Empired and Intergen and the wider industry. We recently sat down with Nicolene Prinsloo, practice manager – digital & experience design (West), Empired, to discuss her extensive career in technology and her advice for aspiring female leaders in the industry.
How did you come to start working in the technology space?
My high school years were an exciting and transformative time in the world of information technology. We saw the dream of the world wide web turn into reality, the first web browser launched, and very quickly nearly every household owned a computer. It truly was a very exciting time. Upon completion of year 12 I decided to pursue a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, and I’ve been hooked on technology ever since.
Have you faced challenges in your journey and experience in technology?
When I started my career as a software developer, it was challenging being a woman in a male dominated culture and career field. Intelligent, opinionated and ambitious women were not looked upon favourably. I was fortunate to cross paths with an inspirational female mentor early on in my career. She saw potential in me and constantly challenged me to do more, learn more, dare more, and to do so without sacrificing on my identity and beliefs. A truly inspiring mentor that I have so much respect for, to this day.
Another challenge was the incredible pace at which technology was emerging and evolving. As a software developer, it felt like I had to learn a brand-new development language every 3 to 6 months. Getting used to and adapting to the rapid rate of change and constantly staying abreast of technology was challenging and exciting at the same time.
Finding a balance between my personal life - as a wife and mother - and work was also a challenge. Having a mentor and employer who is supportive is essential to succeed.
Highlights in your career journey?
Highlights in my career all have a common theme – it is centred around bringing people together that are brilliant, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers and delivering something that has a meaningful impact. It is a lot of fun, the results we achieve as a team is so much more than what we can do on our own.
Projects I look back on and feel grateful to have been a part of, include being part of a start-up that brought a variety of life insurance products to a particular demographic in South Africa that previously did not have access to insurance and the ability to provide for their children’s futures.
More recently we helped a customer to design and deliver a telehealth scheduling solution, which was scaled out during the pandemic. In a small way we made a difference to the lives of health personnel that had to deal with scheduling high volumes of telehealth appointments.
What advice do you have for aspiring young female leaders?
It is important to me that one has a vision for yourself. How do you want to lead, what do you want to be known for and how do you want to be remembered? Life should not be accidental. Don’t drift along and get to a point where you look back and wonder, How did I get here? Have a vision. Then have a plan to turn your vision into reality. Be purposeful in what you do. Be proud of your abilities and skills and own it!
Lastly, remember to be kind - kindness and empathy is not weakness, it’s a strength. A leader can be both kind and strong at the same time.
We would like to thank Nicolene for her time and insights. If you would like to connect, please find her profile on LinkedIn.