The University of the Western Cape (UWC) prides itself on providing young women with the skills needed to change the world – women like Lillian Barnard, ICT legend and Microsoft South Africa’s new Managing Director, effective 1 March 2019.
“Lillian is a seasoned professional with proven capabilities and a strong understanding of the region,” said Samer Abu-Ltaif, President Middle East and Africa at Microsoft. “We believe she is just the right person to take on this role and further strengthen Microsoft’s commitment to South Africa to fuel economic growth, drive prosperity, and transform industries and societies.”
Barnard, who earned both her BCom and BCom Honours in Business Management and Business Economics from UWC, will be the first woman to hold the position since Microsoft reinvested in the country in the early 1990s.
“Barnard joined Microsoft in May 2017 in her role as director: public sector, and was immediately earmarked as a potential successor to Hoosen,” the company said in a statement. “She has more than 20 years’ ICT experience, having been in leadership roles both in South Africa and internationally.”
During her tenure at Microsoft, Barnard pulled together a strong public sector team that delivered innovative digital solutions and helped digitally transform the South African Government.
“Her development and impact as a leader, as a spokesperson, as a technologist and as a seller within Microsoft have positioned her as an ideal successor capable of leading Microsoft South Africa into its next exciting chapter,” the statement said.
Before joining Microsoft, Barnard served as the chief sales officer at Vodacom and worked for IBM for 15 years, seven of which were at the European headquarters in France and Switzerland where she held many key positions. She has served on the boards of Vodacom South Africa, Mango airline and the Dad-fund non-profit organisation.
Barnard will replace Zoaib Hoosen, who resigned after nearly five years of driving Microsoft’s growth in South Africa. She will be overseeing the business’s evolution to the cloud and computing at the edge.
“Succeeding someone who has led with such distinction is an honour,” Barnard said. “Zoaib has ensured that I will be taking over an extraordinary organisation. The business truly is in a strong position as a result of his commitment over the last five years. I am planning to continue to drive this growth as we move forward.”
As the South African division of one of the world’s largest and most successful technology companies, Microsoft South Africa has built programmes around digital skills development among the youth, digitally transforming education and enabling access to technology for social impact.
Women In Tech: Role-Modelling A Revolution
Lillian Barnard is passionate about the empowerment and advancement of women and has a personal mandate to develop Africa’s next generation of leaders. She is patron of the Dream Girls International Outreach and Mentoring Programme of South Africa, and has also been pivotal in re-igniting the South African chapter of Women@Microsoftand spurring a culture that embraces gender equality in the workplace.
It’s a passion shared by the University of the Western Cape, whose Mozilla Technology Clubs empower young women and girls to be able to empower themselves and others through tech.
“If we are to tackle the challenges of the 21st century, and navigate our way through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to empower the youth – and especially young women – with technical skills,” says Michelle Esau, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at UWC.
“Women deserve a chance to shape the technologies of the future.”