Wits CIO recognised with prestigious award. 

Wits University’s chief information officer (CIO), Dr Stanley Mpofu, has been awarded the Visionary Leadership award by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), on Thursday, April 15, 2021. The award, one of many handed out at the IITPSA’s annual President’s Awards, recognises the ability of an individual to transform and implement technological solutions in an organisation. Mpofu was recognised for his creative deployment of the “smart classroom” at Wits University. 

Mpofu says that he is humbled by the award and that he could not have achieved it without his exceptional team. Mpofu says that his idea of the smart classroom was conceived in 2018 but was only implemented in 2020 due to covid-19. The smart classroom enabled Wits to swiftly adopt online learning systems which, Mpofu says, would not have been accepted by the institution without the parameters imposed by the pandemic.  

Fana Sibanyoni, Wits chief operating officer (COO), described Mpofu as resilient and brave for inheriting a legacy of challenging projects within the Wits ICT division.  

“In a short space of time, he managed to bring about [a] paperless world and learning through any gadget in whatever shape or form,” he says. Sibanyoni added that Mpofu has been an asset not only to Wits, but also to the ICT sector in the country. 

Mpofu’s rise to success has not been an easy one. He was once a soccer analyst who worked for SuperSport but found himself unemployed in 1994. His passion for technology began when he enrolled at Transnet for a programming course in 1995. Reflecting on his 27year career in the IT industry, Mpofu says that he often experienceracial discrimination because he was amongst the few black people in the field. 

“[There is] very little trust when you work in IT and come from a specific background. They would ask me, where did you learn this?” Mpofu recalls. He says that it was these frequent encounters that instilled emotional intelligence which has stood him in good stead. 

When Wits Vuvuzela asked about his drive to advance the IT systems at tertiary institutions, Mpofu said, “Institutions tend to lag behind when it comes to technology,” and this is incongruent with the fluid nature of IT. 

Recognising the differences in registration systems at South Africa’s 26 public universities, Mpofu says that there is a lack of collaboration amongst tertiary institutions which hinder them from growing as a collective. He added that the IT industry cannot grow when rural areas are riddled with poverty and a lack of access to technology. “ICT is not [only] for the privileged. Mpofu tells Vuvuzela. 

Sibanyoni added that the award was an affirmation of the progress of the whole ICT team and the university. He says that Mpofu has been an instrumental in the ICT sector. 

Mpofu plans to continue to challenge existing models of ICT to usher in conducive learning environments. He says that he aims to demonstrate that there is no such thing as impossible to achieve’ in the IT industry.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits University’s chief information officer, Dr Stanley Mpofu, has been recognised as an IT visionary. Photo: Provided.