Impact SA

Women in Leadership – Charmaine Houvet, Senior Director: Africa, Cisco

Women in leadership_900x600 Charmaine Houvet

Charmaine grew up in a fragile community and when she left matric went straight into a working environment and found a mentor, a coach, who helped her demystify the ICT industry and walked her journey with her.

She has over two decades of telecommunications experience working with private and public sector organisations across Africa. She joined Cisco with several years’ experience as a Senior Executive in complex, diverse and transformative roles with high profile leading ICT companies. Charmaine leads Cisco’s technology growth, transformation portfolio, government affairs strategy, regulatory, and public policy efforts across Africa. She partners with heads of state and various stakeholders in public & private sector, academia, and civil society to advance the digitalisation agenda across the continent. This includes shaping and advancing strategies that foster innovation and digital technologies.

Charmaine also serves as the Cisco spokesperson for Africa.

Charmaine spoke to Chris Buchanan of ImpactSA in our Women in Leadership series with Vodacom and identified the challenges facing women in leadership roles in an ICT environment.

Current Positions on Board

  • Chair of the ICT industry association, the South African Communications Forum (SACF)She serves as a board member of the of International Women’s Forum South Africa, consisting of a pre-eminent group of senior women leaders from various sectors charged with promoting improved leadership for a changing world.
  • Chairperson of the Young Leaders Connect (YLC) Association which is funded by the IWFSA. YLC is charged with developing the next generation of young leaders through mentorship, coaching, sponsorship, and training.
  • Board member of the Cisco Technology Systems (CTS) local board and acts as Chair of the Cisco Charitable Trust, headquartered in San Jose.
  • The Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution under President Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa. She chairs the Policy and Law reform workstream of the Presidential 4IR commission.
  • Member of the BeyGOOD Global Citizen Advisory Council (powered by BeyGood and Funded by Tyler Perry) that nurtures African youth with remarkable potential.
  • Board member of the coding NPO We Think Code.
  • Charmaine is passionate about transformation and the advancement of the ICT sector especially women in the sector and is the recipient of several business awards in recognition of her vision, collaboration, leadership, and achievements in the ICT sector.
  • In November 2016, she was named South Africa’s Top Woman in ICT.
  • In August 2017 Charmaine was awarded the MTN Ministerial Recognition Award for her outstanding contribution towards advancing the ICT industry in South Africa.
  • In 2019 Charmaine was nominated by her peers in the ICT industry as a finalist for the IT personality of the year awards.
  • She holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) qualification.

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