Lizette Spangenberg champions change on many fronts, and she has found a powerful partner in DVT. The business ethic of ‘Diversity through Inclusivity’ at DVT has enabled Lizette to drive the empowerment of women in business and the tech space: “I think that technology has enormous potential to empower young people – especially women.”
In her position as UX design practice lead, she is responsible for growing and mentoring the designers in her team, as well as assisting them with trouble-shooting. She also spearheads some of DVT’s NPO efforts to improve lives through technology.
“There are quite a few platforms and charities working in South Africa that aim to get young people into the technology space, and one of them is the NPO ‘She Can Do’, which DVT has been sponsoring by providing technology and business assistance to help them grow.”
Many young people hear about UX design, but they do not know where to start, explains Lizette. One of the barriers to entry is that they do not have a portfolio, not having worked for clients before. ‘She Can Do’ runs workshops where participants work on projects for real clients to build up a portfolio.
“I was also involved with this organisation last year as a mentor and they specifically look at empowering women and girls to get into the space of UX design. As a woman working in ICT, I am very passionate about empowering women and younger people to enter the technology space, which is still very male dominated.”
As well as her involvement with ‘She Can Do’, Lizette acts independently as a mentor to women in business and the tech space. “I’ve learnt a lot from the male mentors that I’ve had and I’m incredibly grateful for that, but women do struggle with different things, and I think it would have been great to have a female mentor to help me through that phase. I am trying to be that person now for other people and I have people reaching out to me on LinkedIn and Twitter.”
Lizette is asked for advice on various matters. “I am very happy to give feedback on portfolios or whatever they may need, because I would love for them to get to the point where I am.” She considers herself fortunate to be in a position to mentor other people, and give them the advice that she would have valued at a more junior point in her career.
An online discussion on some of the challenges faced by women in the tech space – organised by the GDG (Gauteng Developers Group) in which Lizette participated – can be accessed via the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSSDBuRd8b8
In her experience, Lizette has found that the industry sometimes disregards women and younger people as not having much to contribute. They sometimes have no voice and are often intimidated by the corporate culture. She adds that DVT is the first company she has worked for where no such undercurrents are present. “Everyone is equally heard at DVT, no matter what their position or level.” She attributes this to a number of factors at DVT, but highlights the examples set by management at all levels.