IT Leadership Series: Assupol CIO Nomthi Nelwamondo on the power of introversion

Assupol Holdings CIO Nomthi Nelwamondo is a solutions-driven executive with more than two decades’ experience in the technology space.

Nelwamondo joined Assupol in January 2019 as CIO. Prior to Assupol, she was the CIO at Liquid Telecom South Africa (now Liquid Intelligent Technologies) and previously fulfilled a divisional CIO role at Telkom.

She champions a fast-paced, team-orientated environment with single-minded dedication to aligning team effort with organisational goals. She has held various diverse roles in senior management in IT, telecommunications core networks, network wholesale service operations and Internet service provision.

We posed a few questions to Nelwamondo.

What does your company do?

Assupol Life is a South African long-term insurance company that has been serving clients since 1913. It is a subsidiary of Assupol Holdings, which is listed on the Cape Town Stock Exchange.

What do you see as the CIO’s top priorities in 2022?

  • Digital capabilities to allow straight-through sales processes at any time, from anywhere and with any device.
  • Digital capabilities that enable client self-service at any time, from anywhere and with any device.
  • Data insights and analytics.

What do you most admire in business and why?

I admire how businesses identify unobvious/ambiguous needs, and then innovate unimaginable products and services that eventually become a normal part of life, effectively improving the lives of people.

How do you attract and retain talent?

Assupol’s culture is one of service to those who serve. This is not just for our clients, but also for one another as colleagues. I strongly believe in servant leadership, which means attracting individuals of superior talent and assigning them work that aligns with their personal interests and growth aspirations. We have a collegial work environment for staff to thrive in their roles. This year, Assupol was awarded the Platinum Seal of Achievement in the 2022 Deloitte Best Company survey (arguably the most prestigious and respected of its kind in South Africa). Our staff are given rewarding challenges, recognised for their excellence, and developed and trained to do more while receiving the required individual support.

If you could go back and give your 18-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

There is power in being an introvert. You will be an exceptional leader and you do not need to change anything because your assignment needs exactly the person that you are.

What’s your favourite productivity hack?

Learn to say “no” and set specific goals for the day.

What occupation (other than your own) would you like to try?

I am intrigued by law. It requires broad reading, discovery of “truths” based on piecing information together, and proving why things work or do not work together. It promotes critical thinking.

Where do you see the technology industry heading in the next three to five years?

  • Basic capabilities of wireless will continue to improve, especially in areas such as bandwidth, range, latency, endpoint density, power consumption and, to a lesser extent, parameters like signal noise. This means that wireless can take on a much wider range of tasks than in the past (for example, as has been demonstrated by private 5G industrial systems replacing fixed connectivity in factories).
  • Distributed work will mature and become standard, accelerating employee transfer and making it possible to access work location, team assignments or time zones they could never access before. This will require leaders to respond to employee demands for increased flexibility in what work they do, in addition to when, where and how much they work.

What is one book you’d recommend to our audience and why?

Take Charge: Life lessons on the Road to CEO, by Nyimpini Mabunda. I enjoy reading about how seemingly “ordinary” people become great individuals because I believe everyone has greatness in them.  — (c) 2022 NewsCentral Media