As a self-confessed ‘people person’ Tebogo Mohlampe’s dream was always to study social work. And she did for a time, before diverting to social sciences and earning both a Bachelor’s Degree and Masters Diploma in Human Resources Management, which all helped to lay the groundwork for the people-centric role she occupies today at Altron BMS.
“I’ve always wanted to touch lives; to provide support and solutions that help people get to where they want to go – because everyone has dreams and aspirations, but some of us need that added guiding hand,” explains Tebogo, who was born and raised in the small farming town of Koster before migrating to big-city life.
Her HR journey began at Woolworths, working as a casual after she matriculated and throughout the course of her studies. She went on to be groomed to join the retailer’s human resources department, earning her stripes while shadowing and relieving HR managers at different branches. She then exchanged one retail environment for another, working for Edcon, again in human resources, where she was responsible for several stores. “My job opportunities have always complimented what I was trying to do with my life. I’m lucky that everything fell into place early on for me.”
It was only later that her jump to I.T. happened. “It was time for a change. I’d been in retail since I was 18 and I felt that the world was changing so much and that my motivation wasn’t what it used to be. Every day became the same and I’m not one for routine. I like to do things differently, to stimulate my brain and challenge myself,” she explains.
She applied for a position at ICT solutions provider Datacentrix and was there for just over a year, also in HR, before moving to Altron BMS in 2018. “From the start, there were so many things at Altron that I could venture into and learn – one of them now being this concept about women in I.T. coming together to see what can we do to innovate and add value.”
What she’s referring to is the FemmeTechZA innovation forum, currently in place at Altron BMS, that offers women in I.T. the opportunity to showcase their ideas and lend their skills to developing and implementing innovative technology-driven solutions, primarily for the retail environment, which is ironically right up Tebogo’s alley considering her career path to date.
“My hope for the forum is that it helps provide solutions for other women out there that are busy,” she says. “Time is a real luxury for all of us, so I’m hoping that our ideas will help simplify lives, including my own.”
Tebogo also appreciates the group dynamics and diversity within the forum: “There’s definitely a great mix of views, which is exactly what we need to challenge us. I’d be worried if we were all too similar. It’s a good thing that we’re so different.”
Key to my role is engaging with others, so I spend my days doing just that with my business partners – they are my customers, along with all the other employees. I’m in and out of meetings, getting things done. I also look after the Learnership Programme we have at Altron BMS, where applicants between 18 and 35 are invited to apply online for learnerships and internships with us. We accept 20 people annually, expose them to various departments and provide training, with a goal to eventually absorb them into the organization depending on performance. The programme is diverse and inclusive and they are all so eager to learn. I really look forward to work every day, knowing that I’m going to make a difference and add value by sharing my experience and the skills I’ve learned over the years.
I believe that men and women complement each other in the I.T. space. I collaborate comfortably with both, although there is this saying that loosely translated into English means ‘a woman will hold the knife by the blade.’ In other words, some situations require a woman’s touch or presence, as we’ll often hold the sharpest part of the knife so others aren’t hurt or affected in certain situations. That quality, for me, is a uniquely feminine one and something that I think women bring to the table.
I have two boys, aged 18 and 22 – one a soccer player, the other a DJ. So my life after hours is about supporting them and just being together. For me, the best thing you can have is a strong relationship with your family. Work isn’t far from mind though, as I’m often thinking about solutions we can provide to communities and people, especially when I’m out shopping for example. I’m also a mentor to a group of teens that I coach about life and try to guide where I can. I enjoy the outdoors and would describe myself as outgoing and adventurous.
Women in general have so many roles to play – at work, at home and socially, within their communities. I’m most inspired by the ones that made it before technology – women like my mother. Growing up, there was never a time where I felt like I lacked something or there was something missing. Everything was just complete. My mother didn’t have a car; there was no app to find the best place where I could go and study. The post office was her communication hub and we caught taxi’s to travel, sometimes hundreds of kilometers at a time, to look for things and places. Can you imagine doing that now? Today we can ‘visit’ fifty different places and get a hundred things done, all while sitting at home. So much has been made possible with the click of a button. There’s really no excuse to not get things done, considering how truly time-consuming life before technology used to be.
I’ve been working since I was 18, so that’s more than 30 years for me now, and Altron is the first organisation where I feel I have a workplace that I can be proud of. There’s no limit to what you can learn. The culture is inclusive and diverse. I am at home here. Also, coming from a retail environment and then finding myself in an I.T. space that supports the retail sector with solutions, feels like I’ve entered the right space.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here and it’s here to stay. You need to love it, embrace it, live it and adapt to it. If you don’t do that, you won’t see its value and you may get left behind. Before you look again, other people will occupy the space you were hoping to get. Let technology guide you. You don’t have to be the master of it – it’s there to make your life easier. Stay on your toes, be accountable, responsible, passionate and determined; always look for ways to add value.