Bank Better, Live Better
a day in the life of Blessing Mgaga, head: solutions delivery and technology academy01/10/2020
Blessing Mgaga is a manager in our technology services department. He gave us a glimpse into what a day in his shoes looks like.
You’ve only got a few minutes to explain to someone you’ve just met what you do. What do you tell them, including your title and what it means? Think of this as your elevator pitch!
I assist with the management of the technology solutions delivery and academy function at Capitec. My main priority is to ensure that all our technology services teams focus on the correct strategic deliverables at the right time and liaise with our key strategic stakeholders. I also manage the continuous development of technology teams through the technology academy.
How long have you been at Capitec?
I’ve been here for 16 months, and it’s been such an exciting journey! I work with incredibly capable and experienced people, who are all willing to share their knowledge.
What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office every morning?
When we were still working from the office, there were three things I’d do every morning. First, on my way to work, I’d stop at Follow the White Rabbit to grab my infamous Americano with cold milk, which would be ready and waiting for me. Once at my desk, I’d check on my call and action lists for the morning before having standups with my team.
Tell us about a typical day at the office.
Before lockdown, I’d always start my morning by dropping off my daughter at school. Once at the office, I check what’s on my schedule for the day, and what meetings might have popped in overnight as urgent. Some days I have delivery planning or project review sessions to discuss progress on technology initiatives. Other days I have one-on-one meetings with my colleagues, team or chief product owners to manage priority changes in delivery resources supporting strategy. I also support my team throughout the day in any way I can to deliver against our collective plans for the week. Towards the end of the day, I catch up on critical actions, emails, calls, planning and review my meeting schedule for the following day.
Given that many people are working from home, what is your top tip for working remotely?
Make sure you plan regular catchups with your teams to touch base – at Capitec, we call them standups. They encourage conversations, but should be kept short and sweet! It’s also essential to set targets with deadlines for each team to keep everyone motivated and moving forward. On a personal level, it’s important to maintain routines. For me, that means a cup of coffee in the morning or a walk with my wife before or after work. You have to separate office time from family time.
Where do you fit in within Capitec? And who do you report to?
I work with delivery teams across the enterprise, and primarily with the technology teams. I report into Henk Prinsloo, Head of Technology Services.
What are your go-to tools for getting your job done efficiently and effectively?
There’s a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen, which breaks down how to get things done by moments, environments and experiences. The premise is similar to Kanban, a scheduling system developed in Japan, where you work with three columns – “backlog”, “in progress” and “done” – to help you prioritise work and get it done. I also try to stay abreast of business trends through research and spend a lot of time reading up on technology websites and blogs. In addition to this, having regular conversations with my stakeholders, allows me to keep priorities aligned and delivering the correct value into the business.
What type of skills do you need to be good at what you do?
You need a good grasp of technology and must have problem-solving and strong collaboration skills. You also have to able to adapt to change; things happen quickly in our business. I’d also suggest acquiring skills in areas like product management, procurement, business acumen, portfolio management, financial management, risk management and agile delivery methodologies.
What are you most excited about in your role?
I’m excited about the opportunities that could come post COVID-19 to reinvent ourselves and the bank. On a personal level, we all have fears about job security and health, but someone once said never to waste a “good” crisis. If we can use the pandemic as a stepping stone, we can do great things for more than just ourselves, but our customers. At Capitec, especially in the technology space, we always have to think about what we have to build today, before our customers need it tomorrow.
What did you study?
BTech at the Tshwane University of Technology. I’ve also completed quite a few short courses in leadership and technology.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Three things – I wanted to be a pilot, lawyer or technologist. My parents couldn’t afford to sponsor me for my law studies at university level, that’s when a learnership in technology came up through ABSA, I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back.
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