Kulani Likotsi is Head of Data Management and Data Governance at one of the big four African banks, headquartered in South Africa. Kulani is curious and practical. As an individual she seizes every opportunity to learn, adapt, and grow. As a leader she is focused on people and enabling every one as an individual, to be their best. In this episode Kulani shares her passion for people and data governance. You’ll also hear her approach to mentoring, thoughts on diversity, and how she truly lives the values that she believes in with her incredible volunteer spirit
Welcome to the Soda Podcast. We're talking about the Data Dream Team with Jesse Anderson. There's a new approach needed to align how the organization, the team, the people are structured and organized around data. New roles, shifted accountability, breaking silos, and forging new channels of collaboration. We’ll be talking about it all. The lineup of guests is fantastic. We're excited for everyone to listen, learn, and like. Without further ado, here's your Data Dream Team host, Jesse Anderson.
Hello and welcome to the Data Dream Team podcast. My name is Jesse Anderson and I'm excited today because we have the head of data management and data governance today. She is from a large bank in Africa. And part of the reason why I'm excited today is that she's going to be our first guest from Africa. So I'm excited to get her viewpoint coming from a different continent and a different industry. Welcome, Kulani. Would you mind introducing yourself a little bit more?
Yes. So thank you, Jesse, for the invite and also being the first in Africa, so no pressure, hey? So I'm Kulani, all the way from South Africa. I am a mother of two, a wife, a sister, a community builder, but at the same time, heading up the data management in the data governance team, in one of the big four banks of the continent in Africa, but the head office being based in South Africa. Greatly looking forward to the session today.
Well, that's excellent. Thank you again. I appreciate that. So part of what we try to do in this podcast is shed light on highs, lows, tribulations, things that are unique to your career. Tell me about how your career has evolved.
So my career, literally, I started as an analyst because [I was] always intrigued in wanting to learn something new. So moved from being an analyst into, or information analyst then moved into BI developer because one of the individuals left. And at that point in time, when they started building a data warehouse team, I put my hand up again, and said, can I just join the team and learn something new? But in that working as a developer in the backend I got to pick up a lot of data stewardship work that needed to be conducted.
And at the point in time, when they said they want to establish a data governance team, yet again, trust Kulani to put her hand up. So I put my hand up, to a point where now I have come full circle from a data management and data governance team, from being a developer and analyst to now heading up the team. And also just moving from a tech space or a technology space, to now where I'm sitting with business, where you are in the heart of all these business decisions that get to be made. So that has been my career journey and it's just been an interesting one.
So you brought up something that I think is important as people either try to learn or try to move up in their career. Your volunteer spirit is amazing. Where did that come from?
Maybe it's a personality thing, getting bored very easily. So it's always saying, every two, three years, what's the new thing? What's the new buzz? And just wanting to always explore. But at the same time, I call it the growth mindset, right? There's certain people that are comfortable in doing the same things over and over again, where for my personality, it's, what's new? What can I do to stretch myself more? But also, it also helps to have the right networks because those are the people that then allow you to come into their space and get to learn what their teams are currently doing. So it's just the willingness to learn the open mindset and just wanting to bring value. So self growth.
Oh, that's amazing. And how do you deal with the issue of, you're in something brand new and you're having to learn about it and run it, how do you deal with that part of it?
So for me, first and foremost, you need to understand the environment you're going to. And in that understanding, there's a level of research that you need to do, reading up on articles, looking at such things like podcasts, what are the people that have already done it? What are the lessons learned? And one thing I've always appreciated, it's how people then also bring you into the real life experiences, where from an outside perspective, you can gain the theory, but most of the time you need the practical exposure. So being in the right space with the right individuals that are willing to then provide you that practical exposure. And for me, it's, can I just get a small project that I can see evolving in the organization and not necessarily just doing projects that I see not generating any value. So it's always making sure that as and when you ask, or raise your hand to learn a new skill, you need to do the research, also find the networks that will then best help you, but at the same time, always deliver in the work that you're meant to do.
That's really good advice. Sometimes I see people trying to start out and they don't reach out, they don't try to network and they don't deliver. So it's both, both go hand-in-hand. So as we saw in your introduction, you are the head of governance, so could you give us a short definition of data governance?
So for me, I always say governance is the process that you need to ensure that your data, it's always... There's data integrity, it's usable, it's accessible, it's well protected. And this will always be underpinned by the policies and the standards that we have within the specific corporation that you're in, in just making sure that you're meeting one, either the regulatory requirements or also the policies and standards that you have set out as a corporation. So always ensuring that your data is secure and protected, especially right now, with the industries going with all the data breaches.
Yeah. The data breaches, I think that finance gives us a level, an even higher level of what we need to deal with in terms of, we need to be careful with people's data. So is that what makes you so passionate about governance?
Yes. So recently, I can also just say, I started looking at the data privacy aspect of it, because as and when now, in the industry, we're talking about GDPR, protecting our customer information from a global perspective. And here in South Africa, we've got the POPI Act, Protection of our Personal Information Act. And there it's, how do we then protect it because it's all good and well to have regulations and standards? But practically, what does it mean in the implementation of it? So the greatest passion that I've had recently, it's how data is being managed and all those models that we're currently building out there, how are they building the models? What are the biases that are being applied, whether or not in those teams, we've got diversified teams that are building those models to bring the different aspects that we all come with?
So the passion has been data protection and data privacy, because as much as we have the data, the customer gives us that data with the respect that we will ensure that we secure the information and it's just making sure, how do we then best do it. And also the education there of, do people do the right ways of sharing that data, where you would find a spreadsheet with all the customer information is being shared via an email while there could be other proper means of sharing information.
I like laws that are named after fruit. That makes it a lot more palatable than GDPR. As data teams, when do you think we should start looking at governance?
So at any point in time where you've got data, edges base, whether it's a spreadsheet, it's in a database, it's structured, not structured, for the mere fact that you've got data in your space, in whatever format, there's a level of governance that you need to play with, one, you need to know who's the owner of that specific data, because from an outside perspective, when a customer gives you the data, they're taking, the organization will protect their information. So internally within the organization, you need to know who then are the right owners of that data. Also, what is the quality of that information? Most of the time, when people talk about governance, they think we are just there to police them, but it's - how do we then best handle the data in a manner that we do not leave the organization exposed?
So data quality, data protection, but also at the same space, right now, we're in an era where we need to start asking, who are the people that have access to information, because the moment you get individuals that have multiple access to information, what are those toxic combinations that it's easier for somebody to start using the information for not what they're meant to. So from a governance perspective, it's just making sure that the bare basic principles, ownership, accountability, quality of that information, how it's being protected, it's always the key aspects that we then need to look at.
So you've probably dealt with data teams in your tenure there, what advice do you have for data teams dealing with their own governance departments?
So I would say, there's a collective, right? Always get to know what it is that you're trying to drive, what value are you trying to drive? And this can always be linked to the business strategy on wanting to know what it is that we are all collectively trying to drive. So the moment we have that shared goal, regardless of you sitting in data, in governance, in technology, or in business, that moment where we all know we're driving towards the same goal, it makes it easier because it takes out the boundaries of us and them. But rather coming back and saying, what is a business problem that we are trying to solve for. And if all collectively in our different aspects, we've got a solution that we need to drive. It's a collective solution that we're putting in place.
The governance aspect of it, we'll always say governance should not be there to hold individuals from delivering, by putting all the spanners in the works, but rather, how do we from a governance perspective and the governance team enable the data and the business to meet the desired goals? So it's that collaborative and shared delivery that we need to do as cross-multiple disciplines in the delivery of work we need to do.
So I love that view of data governance. It's collaborative. It's not there to say no. So let's say I'm a data scientist or maybe a data science manager, and I'm sitting here thinking, I'm having so much trouble with my data governance department, what advice would you give them?
So for that, it's just sit with the data governance team. In my experience, what I have found, is that, from my team, and I always drive it with them, is saying, do not come and talk the jargon with a business. It's then saying, if you've got a data scientist that wants to explore using a specific dataset, what is it that he wants to explore? What is that information? And then rather walk the journey with them, instead of saying, no, you cannot use this information, but what are the guardrails? What are those windows of opportunities that they can play around or explore the data?
So I would advise the data scientist, reaching out to the governance team, in saying, what can I do instead of what can't I do? And the moment you go there with that question of, because it's the same as compliance, compliance will come in and say, you can't do X, Y, and Z, but the moment you change the narrative, and saying, based on this business problem and the dataset that I want to work with, what can I do? In that way, it changes the narrative on how they then best advise you and assist you in deriving the value of the set you want to use.
So I love that advice, it's reframing. And so by reframing the question, it goes from an adversarial question to a cooperative question. So great advice there. Now, in a very similar vein, let's say I'm a data engineer and I'm trying to create a data product, and I'm dealing with the data governance department having trouble, what advice do you give that data engineer or data engineering manager?
So even for the data engineering team, right? Rather, instead of coming at the end of the solution or the built, or as in when you're experiencing the problem, what I've seen working, it's best to say to the governance team, in saying, this is the plan that we want to execute, or this is the project that we want to work in. Based on your experience and expertise, what are the things that we then need to look at? And that way they get to walk the journey with you. And yet again, taking the barriers of us and them that, I mean, the governance team, you and the engineering team, how do we collaboratively work together in the solutions that we provide? So the moment governance is then brought in from the onset, in saying, this is the business delivery that we are trying to drive and the business objective that we want to meet, bring everyone collectively.
You would find in teams that they do the agile methodology and PI planning sessions from a technology perspective and saying, for that specific sprint or for that specific PI, this is what we want to drive. Instead of it being isolated and the governance team coming towards the end to say, but you have not done X, Y and Z, bring them along, start the journey with them so that they best advise you. And if then you are in that space where you are already way ahead and governance was then not included, I'd rather advise you, just bring them along as soon as possible so that they can help, at times, take out all this bottlenecks that you potentially might be experiencing way sooner before you experience it.
So you brought up a few things that we, talking about agile and team structure, one of the questions I'd like to hear your input on is, where do you think data governance gets put? Do you think data governance should be part of the team, should be a separate team and then interact? What's your view there?
So my view, and that's one of the changes that we've implemented in the organization, right? So previously, data governance and data management in whole was a separate team altogether, sitting in IT. And one of the business values we started seeing was that being one with business, you get to derive value way quicker, because now your patent parcel of the delivery is sitting in business in that execution. So at any point in time, even for any organization, the governance aspect is sitting outside the business side. There's a lot of dependencies. And also from a time perspective, that can also take time because, one, you might find your, I hate in the project, but in bringing in this governance person, there's a lot of time that you need to now take in, to work the journey, to get them to where you're currently sitting. So always priority can when we drive the business value, make sure that all the right stakeholders are involved from the onset and for it not being an afterthought.
Another thing that I've also seen is where we are at, in the level of maturity, where the team is currently sitting in business. It's also just bringing the rest of our risk partners. For example, we've got the likes of compliance, data privacy, operational risk, IT security. So saying, as in when we get to deliver, make sure that all those individuals are giving you the input, so that you have a holistic product that you get to share. And they're also upfront in telling you the advice that's required before we take it out into production and get to pick up that there's legal requirements that we need to worry about, that we didn't think of from the onset. So that collective delivery and bringing all the stakeholders upfront can best assist in leapfrogging some of the projects that we then need to deliver without having to wait for governance at the end.
So one of the things I'm learning from you is there's always the right person for the job. So for me, governance is not my thing, whatsoever. That's how I'd know, was a bad person, had been reincarnated as a governance person. So governance isn't my thing, but I'm seeing that you love it. And that comes across and I'm thinking, if you find the right person, they will not just do it as a daily job, they will actually enjoy doing it, is that your experience?
Yes. So finding the right people that are passionate about it, I've heard that a couple of times, “I've never seen somebody that is as passionate as Kulani doing data governance.” And it's some of the feedback that we're getting. But I think for me, the unlocking that happened was, don't come and talk the jargon, walk with the business, understand where they currently at and walk the journey with them, because in walking the journey with them, for example, I might come in and saying, we need to worry about data protection and data quality and data security. But if then the business is not at that right mindset, you're just talking and it's yet again, us and them, problem. But the moment you partner with the business and say, make me understand what your current business problem is, and in understanding that business problem, on my side, I can point to it and allocate it and say, this is a data quality issue, this is a data protection issue.
But in me not wanting, upfront, to talk the jargon, but I'd rather say, what value can I add in your current problem? What solutions I can bring forward. I found that business has actually opened up more doors to an extent where now, business is the one that's calling us in and saying, look at my landscape, what is wrong? What is it that you can advise me to do better? Because then they've seen the value. So always make sure from a governance perspective, don't talk regulations and don't do this. But make sure that you're always striving, what's the business value that will enable business to run quicker? And the moments they get to see the value, trust me, they will open up all the doors for you to give you all additional information.
When we talked before, you told me that you're on 10 or 12 different committees, and that's often what happens at big companies, especially banks, there's a committee for this and a committee for that. So for data teams on the other side of these committees, how would you recommend that they interact with these committees to be the most productive?
So in my experience, what I've seen working is that for each and every committee, there's usually a mandate that has been set out, or the terms of reference of saying, this is what this committee is meant to achieve, right? And there will always be representation of the stakeholders from the different aspects, but for those data teams that are sitting outside that might not necessarily have the invite into those committees, what we have then implemented and what I've seen to work is that, having that distribution list. So yes, you might not attend the session, but at least have access to the minutes of what was then being discussed depending on the sensitivity of the committee. And also get to see the perks of what is it that was being discussed. That way, the outside committees also get, or the data fraternity, also gets to see what's currently being discussed, what are the decisions that are being made?
And also, from an engagement perspective, who are the people that they can start engaging with, based on where that specific department is currently sitting, based on their experiences that they've leveraged. So the distribution list of committees have always helped. And as much as we say, as much as certain people can't go to committees, we also have our knowledge sharing committees, where we saying, Kulani, because you sit in so many committees, what are the common trends and themes that you're seeing across the committees that we can then leverage from a data perspective? And also for them to start noticing what are the things that might potentially be coming their way, based on their business requirement and where the organization is sitting. So, yeah.
Is that when you know you have too many committees, that there's a meta committee of committees that talks about committees?
It's always the case because at times, you might just find the same topic being discussed in multiple committees and somewhere you'll end up thinking that maybe I'm just hearing the same thing three, four, five times, but yet again, it just highlights what's currently burning or what's the new trend happening in the business that you might just need to take side of. But in terms of attending those committees, it's a committee about... So I always say, it's attending a meeting about a meeting for a meeting, in essence. Yeah.
So now, Kulani, switching topics a little bit, ahead of this recording, we discussed two very poignant facts and how to address them. I say this to give our listeners context because I never want to have a conversation for the sake of just talking. I want to see change. I genuinely want to see change. And one of those changes that we've talked about in this series is diversity. And I'd love to see this be deeper and wider and to see data teams be far more inclusive, but on this podcast, so far, I've only been able to talk about diversity with two other white males, raised in the Western world. And this is my opportunity to talk to you, a black woman in technology and to get your view on diversity in data teams. So one of the big questions for you is, how do you think we should recognize and break down our biases in the technology industry?
So starting off there, you're talking diversity, and you're saying... The keywords that are popping up for me are, two white males, right? How are we talking diversity with the same individuals? Right? And it's a question that I always get to see, it's even when you look at it from a female perspective, irregardless of race, but just from that inclusion of females in some of the conversations that we're currently having. I've seen the evolving of where we are, as an industry, where you're starting to see a lot more females coming in, let alone, now that we're starting to get to see the Black females coming in. And most of the time, there's always the ask of, well, how did you start? How did you navigate through all of these biases that are always there? And for me, just talking from my own experience with someone that has just recently started doing the industry talks is, I have just had that dream for self-saying that, I know I am credible when I sit on the table, because it always takes one person to open up the opportunity for you.
And in that opportunity being open, you just need to make sure that you bring your best value in, make sure that you get to deliver in the work that you do. And there will always be somebody that will come and question your credibility, whether you're Black, you're female, you're tall, your age, your background, your history, all of those things, but it's just always remaining true to the fact of, the moment you get to sit on the table, what value you then get to bring. In terms of what we need to do, us as leaders across the industry? We always need to hear different voices in the room, and cannot be the same. And these are different voices from different racial backgrounds, our upbringing, our history, our gender biases that are currently there, saying, can we all just give that opportunity to everyone because you might just find there's a female that can do it better? But because they've never been granted that opportunity, these are some of the constraints that are currently sitting there.
So it's saying, in the decisions that we get to meet, if at any point in time, you're sitting around the table and you're only seeing yourself in it and there's no Kulani there, those are some of the questions that we also then need to reflect as in the different levels of leadership that we're in, on how do we bring different backgrounds and views into the table, to then better enable us to make sound decisions. Because as much as we are all in the business of making money, we need to make sure that we tap into all the markets that are currently sitting out there, and that can only be done via diversity and diverse individuals and expertise that we need to bring into the table. So just being open and especially to the decision maker that needs to make this, is just being open to saying that there always has to be somebody different from you in order to give you a different perspective and being open to some of the views that might potentially come out there.
That's a great answer. Thank you so much. So I can feel this pride that you have in what you've done there at your current organization. Could you give some examples of what you've done to make things more inclusive?
So I can tell you, even in my own current team, there's a lady and this is some of the biases that we currently have, irregardless of where you're sitting, right? There's certain individuals that are good and they've got the theory knowledge, but there's certain people because they've never been granted the opportunity or the space, based on whatever background and issues that they might be currently experiencing. I took a chance with one of the ladies that potentially, I would say it's a call center environment or backend office environment, where this is a talent that I highlighted that this is somebody who's passionate, but yes, they did not have the right qualifications as an example, but it's talent that we can then groom. And in that, is just saying, in this individual or the talent that I'm seeing, how do I then groom them in the right space, in the right project, but also at the same time, giving them the practical examples or the practical work execution that they need to drive to then deliver the business value.
And I can tell you now, years later, this is the person that's now sitting in the team, who is a data governance officer, but it took that time that Kulani then put out saying, how do I then enable and then give back to the individuals that I know, these are some of the individuals that will always be overlooked because they might not have the right posture, right background or the right qualification but the talent and they're showing the right behavior and maximizing on just making sure that you give them the right platform for them to excel. So it's one of the practical examples that I've implemented, but at the same time, even looking at my own team, where I've got people or heading up people that are way older than me, and also those that are younger than me. But having that age difference also just then brings us or centers the team in the delivery that we get to do on saying, how do we deliver for the future, but also taking you into account some of the past experiences and exposures of where the organization has been?
We're going to go back to talking about that diversity a bit more, because I think that was really interesting to me. One of the things I think you really highlighted was your ability to spot potential or spot talent, how would you recommend people find that? Or how do you find that, that works well?
Yeah, so there's always going to be somebody that says, I want to learn what you're currently doing, but you can see that in this person, it might be their current role, into a new space. And hence for me, it was spotting someone sitting outside my area and just giving them real life test cases to work on and also taking into account the time that they needed to put in.
So you'll find the difference between the two, it's, somebody's always willing to put in the time to learn and explore, versus someone that will say, over and above my work, I cannot be able to do what you are offering me, which then just highlights the type of character that you'll then be getting. With the lady that I got into the team, it's that, over and above what she needed to do, she put in the time and the effort after hours, wanting to learn, but also at the same time, myself as the leader was also just taking the time required to then train the individual, give them the exposure.
So it's also time consuming for both parties, because then you need to part with knowledge, but at the same time, the other person, it's over and above what they're meant to do, is the willingness to want to learn and explore and get their hands down and dirty. So it's always just that fine line of picking up the person that says they want to learn something new. Is it somebody that's really interested or they're just looking for an easy way out? And how I spotted it, it was irregardless of any new challenges I threw at her plate, she always made sure that she went above and beyond in trying to come up with solutions or doing the proper research. Then it just shows the dedication that she had, in just wanting to put in the time and the effort, versus somebody that's just looking for an easy ticket out.
So I like how you put that, is, you give them the ability to prove themselves.
However, I think what's key here is for people to realize that you are going to have to put in some extra effort, potentially unpaid extra effort. Looking back at my career, is - I've reflected on this - I've had to go the extra mile, I've had to prove myself. And I felt that I had to prove myself. And is that what you're seeing as well, that people will... As long as you explain to them, there's a goal at the end of this. There's a light up at the end of this tunnel, where if you do this, yes, you'll get to this new level. There's a new level of higher pay, better job. Is that what you've done?
That's what I've done. And what I've also seen is that the moment you become open and transparent to the individual, in saying, from my side, I need additional hands to help with the workload, on your side, I'll be giving you the real life experience and exposure, which I'm even willing to be the reference as in when you are wanting to look for a job elsewhere, because by you coming in into the team and being given the workload does not necessarily mean that you're also going to get the job. But it makes you better equipped for those roles that when you get to apply elsewhere, that you're saying you've got hands-on experience, practical experience and exposure to the work. So it is just making sure that in that dedication, somebody will need to know that they're going to put in their effort because it's a win-win for everyone. For myself, I've got people that will help me assist closing out on some of the workload, but on their side, that practical example that they can use, even outside my team, into the rest of the industry.
Yeah. That's a great point. I hadn't thought about that, maybe they don't get a job on your team, but you'll be there to vouch for them. And I don't think people who are just starting to realize how much that vouching for somebody, how far that goes, where if I just speak to somebody for thirty minutes, for an hour, I can get it more or less. But if you've spent hours and hours with them and you say, no, they could do it, I know they can, that goes a long way.
Yeah. And I've also found, it also starts being a mentorship program that you then start because it's then saying, you're parting with your time, but I'm enabling this person for their next, right? And in that mentorship, the stuff that you then, I have found, the things that I've got to pick up as gaps from the individuals, are saying, how do we then work on getting these things better, the way you show up, the way you do presentations? Because with the individual that I have in mind, we also got to a point where I started exposing her to some of the forums and the committees where she needed to come and present her work. And this is someone that will have never got that chance to come and speak to executives about the work that she's currently doing. So that also builds the person's personality and character and the resilience, but also that window of opportunity saying that I have presented at forums where no one would've ever given them that chance.
So that mentorship goes a long way. And sometimes, we just say, pay it forward, because one will ask you, how do you then get the payback? And for me, it's always, pay it forward. People have then taken a chance with me, in my earlier years in the industry, where every time somebody left, I said, can I put my hands up? I want to get my hands dirty, give me whatever it is that they were doing. And sometimes it's not necessarily about the money that comes with it, but just the exposure that then opens you up to all future opportunities. So just take it. If somebody says, come in, I'll give you my time and effort and mentorship, that you might easily leverage on that and that parting of, I will then be vouching for you in the industry. It's also credible individuals that are vouching on your behalf.
How do you deal with the other part of, in order for you to get to this next level, you have to have the time? And for some people, especially disadvantaged people, they may not have that. They may be a single mother, single parent, and they don't have that extra time. How do we deal with this?
So weekends, I've also got to a point where somebody I met, I do mentorship also to the up and coming individuals, right, in the industry. And for me, it's based on the workload that I have. If then I don't have the time during the week, I'm willing to say Saturday morning, I'm willing to give you an hour of my time or two hours of my time, or if in the evenings, we'll do an hour after the kids have gone to sleep. So in that way, you are then showing that I am giving you my time and effort. And for somebody that says they do not, it's, how do we then work around the best timing that will be best valuable for you without disrupting your current exposures?
So there's even a lady that will then say, I'm a single parent, over the weekends, I cannot be able to do it because I don't have much help, but at least, during the week, when the kids are at school, then I can be able to say, earlier on in the morning, before my meeting start, or before my day starts, are you then willing to give the ed time required in order to then enable?
So yet again, the doctors will say, you need to sleep eight hours a day, but you also find they also don't sleep eight hours a day. If something is really key for yourself, it's a matter of how do I then shift things around, in just making sure that I make the time available, but also just being cognizant of everyone has challenges. But if something is a big dream for you, you will try by all means to make all means necessary to avail the time.
It sounds like these people that you're mentoring have mostly been in, or are at your organization already, that kind of puts a chicken and egg issue here of, how do we people deal with people who are already socioeconomically challenged, which also, often goes hand-in-hand with diversity. How do we get those people who aren't already there to give them the opportunity to come in?
Yeah. So what I do, there's mentorship programs that are offered to young girls in disadvantaged communities. And there what we do, it's usually on Sundays where I'll say, most of the time people will then go to church and then you're saying after church, how do we then meet up? And also some of the challenges that we've also experienced was that, now with COVID where there was no human interaction, it's technology not being available for them, or they don't have the means necessary to have those engagements. But that's when we started the use of WhatsApp and Zoom and Facebook, just to then be able to reach some of those individuals. So what I found is, in the spaces that you find yourself in, whether it's in the church industry or in the communities that you find yourself in, how do you then part with knowledge and just mentor the young and upcoming?
And for me, it's not necessarily everybody that's sitting in the data industry, but I have found even on the other portfolios, individuals saying that I'm young, I don't know where to start, where do I start with my profession? How do I then even go to an interview? What are the things that they need to prepare? And it's those simple things that, to an average person, it might just be, just Google it. But to those individuals, first and foremost, you also need to make them understand how to then Google some of the questions or YouTube some of the questions. And it's as basic as that, and the excitement and the thrill that you get to see in their faces, that ‘aha’ moment, when you have then enabled them, it's a heartwarming feeling, knowing that, yes, I might be privileged, but there's others that, from a socioeconomic standstill, there's a lot that still needs to be done in the continent, but just availing your time and your resources, just to help equip and just ensuring that we've got enough that are going into the industry.
And this is the formal professional industry. And there's others that will just say, I just want to know how do I start doing a business plan because you are experienced or exposed to some of this. How do you then best enable it? So there's a huge need to then make sure that there's multiple Kulanis out there that are also passionate, but there's a group of individuals that we have all partnered in, and saying, how do we then extend some of the lessons that we have learned in grooming the young and upcoming? And not necessarily only from a data industry perspective, but as young professionals.
And we are starting to see the fruits now, where people are just coming back and giving the feedback that, thank you for the two, three sessions, coaching sessions that you've provided. This is the door that it has opened, or I am much more confident in some of the presentations that they need to do, because it's some of the questions that they will ask, saying, you look confident in doing your presentations, how do you go about it? And it's got nothing to do with the portfolio or the industry I'm in, but just how you then show up.
For those of you who are mentees or people wanting to be mentored, Kulani just mentioned something that we don't get very often, sometimes we'll spend a lot of time. If you reach back out and say, this is how it helped me, that gives us energy. So please do that, please do let us know, this is how it helped us or helped you. And you also talked about something that personally, I'm kind of jealous of. When I started, there was no YouTube, there was no Google, there was no way to... “Hey, I'm going to watch a YouTube video with somebody who actually knows what they're talking about, talking about, how do you do an interview properly? How do you dress for it?” That just did not exist. How do you think that that's changed things for, especially disadvantaged groups?
I think now, they might not have all the applications at hand, but now, we've got cell phones, right? Or the majority of the individuals have cell phones. And what we've seen in the continent is, now, from a government perspective, they're starting to implement technology based education and in the different schools. So there's libraries, where kids can then now go in, where they can start understanding how to Google some of these matters. But I think that human element is still required because yes, you can have a mission in front of you, but if you don't know what to ask, it's still a huge gap that we are then finding. So mentorship, whether we then train the individuals in the school environment, and saying, how do we then simplify the message so that the young and upcoming, technology based education, where we start teaching them, this is the simple, basic, how to use Google, how to go into Word, how to do PowerPoint presentations.
And as much as I see it with my daughter, we'll call them privileged, right? Because now, they're exposed based on the parent, and can be able to do these things. But the moment you get to spend with the bigger family members and you get to see how much they have been privileged, versus the average person that you get to find in the continent, that's a way, for myself, it's, how do I then bridge the gap? And it's, if everyone can go and say, how do I bridge the gap with a small circle that I can easily influence? Imagine how the world will turn out.
I want to ask you two final questions. The first one is, what do you never compromise on?
Quality. So delivery on the work we do, the quality should always be what stands out. And I think that has always been my motto. Regardless we take out the emotion at the end of the day, we're here to make business decisions, what value are you adding? So quality of the output of work that we do, and always making sure that we work on business value, objectives and deliveries.
You know what I appreciate about you? I just realized you don't just bark, value, value, value, like you're an executive who has gone to some seminar on value. You're actually living that. You're talking about quality. This is what we do. So I really appreciate that about you. The last question, what is it you wish people knew about South Africa?
It's the greatest place to be. The people are forever full of smiles, energetic, the most heartwarming individuals you get to meet, plus also the weather is great.
Well, you've had a smile on, the entire time. If people haven't seen me, I don't smile as much, although I'm smiling now because you're smiling at me. Maybe that's what I need to do. I need to go to South Africa more and they'll smile back.
Let me know when you drop by, we'll take you to all the sightseeing places. So yeah.
Well Kulani, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate you sharing so openly and honestly, and I wish you the best of luck.
Thank you so much. Thank you for the opportunity.
Another great story, another perspective shared on data, and the tools, technologies, methodologies, and people that use it every day. I loved it. It was informative, refreshing, and just the right dose of inspiration. Remember to check dreamteam.soda.io for additional resources and more great episodes. We’ll meet you back here soon at the Soda Podcast.