If you really want to fly, harness your power to your passion… Trust your heart, and success will come to you.
Oprah’s powerful quote above resonates with Phokwane Malabye’s philosophy: “Never lose sight of your goal!” Phokwane advises young adults looking to find their calling. “Do not stop looking and always keep yourself open to opportunity – take that job, even if it is not what you want to do … and do your very best – you will gain invaluable experience, no matter which industry.”
Phokwane, who works at DotModus as a software quality assurance tester, is testament to this truth. She emphasises: “You will finally find where you need to be – your passion will find you!”
Her position involves putting applications, designed by the team, through the ‘ringer’ to eliminate bugs and interface issues. “I need to ensure that the apps meet the specified requirements, that they are complete, and work as the users or stakeholders would expect. I also provide information to the team and the rest of the stakeholders to help them make informed decisions about the quality of the product.”
After having been with the company for just over a year, Phokwane has worked in this position with DotModus for about 7 months. “I moved from being an intern to being a software tester, so I have been through a full intern programme that began in March 2019.”
Phokwane started her ICT journey as a student at the Dynamic DNA ICT Training Academy. “They played an integral role in my life. They not only gave me the theoretical knowledge, but also the practical experience to be able to navigate the workplace.” DotModus has continued to provide the right opportunities and environment for her to take this training to the next level. “I have benefited immensely from the tutoring and mentoring culture both at Dynamic DNA and at DotModus.” This culture of mentoring and training pervades the workplace in both companies, she adds; this is not only evident during the learnerships and internships, but entrenched between and within all levels. “It is even expressed in the way the workspace is organised – not in cubicles, but open space where you can interact with anyone, anytime, no matter what their position. This open-door policy creates honest and transparent interaction. It does not feel like a corporate office. I can approach any person directly – I don’t have to escalate a request – it is a wonderful and supportive working environment.”
While she was working at a bookstore gaining some retail work experience, Phokwane read about Dynamic DNA on Facebook for the first time. The circumstances that brought her to this critical juncture in her life were anything but one-directional. At the time, they may have even appeared completely haphazard. But, in retrospect, they led her exactly to where she needed to be – her passion found her! “My internship with Dynamic DNA started in 2017. I knew that I needed to move into something that I was more passionate about. So, I applied for the position, got a response and went for an interview. I was successful at the interview and was absorbed as a student – that is when my true journey began.”
Her haphazard route started with a desire to study occupational therapy at Wits. Due to funding challenges, she completed a certificate in project management at UNISA instead. Then, unable to navigate the job market at that point, she continued onto an N1-N3 qualification in civil engineering at an FET college.
Although she had already realised during this period that civil engineering was not where she needed to be, she worked hard, passed well and went away with a number of valuable skills and knowledge. “Then,” she says, “My passion found me.” This in a quiet corner of her bookstore during a tea break.
At Dynamic DNA, she went through rigorous training – both theoretical and practical. “I went through NQF Level 4 and then reapplied in order to do Level 5. I was studying Systems Development, and DotModus was my hosting company while I was studying.”
In order for DotModus to agree to host her, she was required to write a software development certification and, once passed, she was short-listed for an interview. DotModus were obviously satisfied. “What I think DotModus saw in me at the interview is that I am extremely passionate about the industry and software testing. I am very willing to learn and big on constantly growing myself.” She adds that she is comfortable working in a team with different personalities; and able to take up a leadership role when required.
Since Phokwane started her internship at DotModus, she has been mentored and tutored by experienced software testing and software development professionals. “It has been a very difficult, but exciting journey because we were literally learning on the job at that time.” Weekly knowledge transfer sessions or ‘deep dives’ constantly ensure individual professional growth. These sessions involve all staff participating in professional development. Small groups learning new skills meet with a specialist in that area for a Q&A session, and deep exploration dive. “This carries on for as long as you are with the company – they are constantly upgrading and upskilling.”
Along her journey, Phokwane has been assisted by her colleagues and mentors who encouraged her to speak out – to be confident – and to ask questions and give opinions. She has also drawn strength from her very close and warm extended family. “I grew up in a supportive and encouraging environment where I was encouraged to choose my own path. And that is what enabled me to take the opportunities that were presented to me.”
Phokwane feels strongly about one day being able to extend the same support she enjoyed to other women entering the workplace “by creating a safe space that they can tap into for advice – a network for even a chat or confidence boost – a network where you all just want the very best for each other.”
“I am passionate about women and children – especially the girl child. I would like to help them rise in the workplace; and in industries where they are underrepresented.” A supportive network of women is what she envisions – to act as connectors to people as well as opportunities. “That is the impact that I would like to have!”