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The Accidental Academic

MasterStart chief innovation officer Faryn Pearson talks to Silicone Cape co-chairperson Professor Sumarie Roodt

Professor Sumarie Roodt is the co-chairperson at the Silicon Cape Initiative, an NPO and ecosystem enabler for tech-enabled startups and the co-founder at the Tech4Good Lab at the University of Cape Town, which is Africa’s first dedicated research lab of this kind. She is also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Systems in the Commerce Faculty at UCT.

1. It’s relatively unusual for an academic to be heading up an industry body – what led you to take up the Silicon Cape position?

I’m the accidental academic; I did not come from an academic background, I didn’t teach from the beginning. I finished my undergrad in informatics and went straight into the banking sector where I spent almost half a decade in financial services. There I had exposure to banking and the digitisation of the industry across the continent and to the number of cultures and micro-societies that provided so many opportunities. But we were always aware of the complexities and the challenges in the continental disparities. It was clear Africa has the potential to be a global player in the innovation landscape and for disruption and innovation. Fast forward 14 years later, my research led me to this point, being at the helm of an NGO and a lab pushing for innovation in tech.

2. How do you juggle the various hats you wear? Where do you find the time?

It is really all about how we use our time and whether you are working on things that you’re passionate about. You make sacrifices, you make choices. Being a board member at Silicon Cape is non-paid and if you look at the amount of time we spend on supporting and driving it forward, it is substantial. We do it because we’re deeply passionate about entrepreneurship, technology, and how technology can disrupt and innovate to really take Africa to the front of the innovation leaderboard globally. So to do this, we make choices. It’s that simple. I’m also selective about how I spend my time, who I spend it with and where.

3. How does being informed tie into woman empowerment in the industry?

The two words that go hand in hand are vulnerability and authenticity. You can’t be truly vulnerable if you’re not authentic either. Vulnerability is one of the most powerful things that you can share with somebody because it shows your intentions. I’m willing to do the work. My sights are set on my entrepreneurial journey, or at least being on the Fortune 500 list, being one of the first African women. 

But we see how male-dominated the industry is and even though the lists for men and women are separate, we don’t need a separate list – we need change and I think that will come from being informed across the board. It’s always ironic to me when women have these conversations when men are meant to be part of it too. I think there is, of course, room for us as women to talk about this stuff but we need to include men and their experience and information as part of the conversation else we are becoming the thing we dislike in excluding men from the discussion.

4. How do you, as a person from the global south, think we need to change our mindsets to keep up internationally?

I’m willing to do the work. There are no guarantees but what I ask for is a chance and I need to know what I need to do to get that chance. One thing I always say is, “Do not make yourself small; there is no reason to make yourself small.” I see myself as a bright, shining star and you are a bright, shining star. 

This also comes with supporting other stars, upcoming ones too. It’s really about self-belief. There have been instances where people said to me, “Sorry, don’t even bother applying for that because you’re never gonna get it.” But it wasn’t actually about me. 

South Africans have this mentality of making themselves small on the global stage. I see it with our startups pitching alongside startups from the US and UK, facing European privileges. Somehow, our entrepreneurs make themselves small in those situations and when they lose out, I ask what happened and the response inevitably is, “These guys from Silicon Valley know exactly what they’re doing.” My response is, “Do you not think you know what you’re doing too?” We truly need to be honest about the fact that as South Africans – and maybe even as Africans – we view ourselves as less advanced, less developed, and we don’t stand a chance. That mindset needs to change both ways – from us and the rest of the world.

5. What are your thoughts on the concept of ‘lifelong learning’ – what does it mean to you? How do you apply that concept to yourself?

I’ve never aspired to be academic. I thought after my initial research that it was not going to happen. The reality is, being in that academic space gives you the freedom of space to think about what kind of world I want to live in and how can technology be used in that type of world, and to then explore that as well as contributing to people’s own self-development, meaning education, which I also am deeply passionate about. 

Education is one of the key enablers of growth as a society. What was apparent to me when I did begin research was that the venture capital landscape in South Africa was very much male-dominated and had very few women, either in founder or leadership positions. And that worried me and this needed to change. 

Fourteen years later and the representation – or lack thereof – is still quite scary when you look at the gender distribution of fund founders and fund leaders; 9.7% of all funds in this country are either founded and or led by women. We need to be actively working on and pursuing a change in that disparity.

At 43, I feel as if I’ve lived a few lifetimes in one, and yet, I feel still so young at heart in terms of what the future holds because here we are at the precipice of the digital revolution in Africa. I get goosebumps because I’m witnessing the most incredible innovation come from this continent daily and I’m watching how it’s transforming the continent and its capabilities in technology.

MasterStart, Cambridge Spark offer online tech training courses

South African edtech platform MasterStart has partnered with Cambridge Spark to offer online tech training courses to Africans.

The first courses commenced earlier this month.

The partnership aims to promote online skills development in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This partnership will unlock the leadership potential of thousands of students and deliver a diverse pipeline of top talent, accelerating technological and data driven innovation,” MasterStart CEO, Ben Pike, said in a statement.

ben pike

According to a study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), around 230 million jobs on the Africa continent will require some form of digital skills by 2030.

Through the MasterStart courses, participants can develop skills related to data analysis, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and technological innovation.

Participants can then use the acquired knowledge to contribute to advancements in their respective fields.

This includes fields such as healthcare, education, financial services, and agriculture.

“It will also contribute to data science skills development and the empowerment of African youths in a field that is increasingly providing opportunities for career advancement,” Cambridge Spark Founder and CEO, Raoul-Gabriel Urma said.

Based in the UK, Cambridge Spark is a specialist provider of data science and AI courses.

It offers courses in partnership with institutions such as UCT and provides training in over 60 countries.

By Sam Spiller

Source: Memeburn

MasterStart and UK-based Cambridge Spark collaborate to bring data analysis and AI training online for African professionals

South African edtech MasterStart and UK-based Cambridge Spark today announced a partnership that will provide students across the African continent with access to data analysis and AI training courses, online.

Many African economies are struggling to meet the need for the digital skills, including data science and artificial intelligence expertise, that are needed for organisations to truly get the best out of digital transformation in the public and private sectors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted efforts to address this, requiring skills development initiatives to move wholly online.

The Cambridge Spark MasterStart partnership aims to address this through providing access to world-class, online courses that address the need for hard technical skills combined with the human skills leaders need.

Cambridge Spark is a UK-based specialist provider of data science and artificial intelligence courses. MasterStart has spent recent years building out its portfolio of management and leadership courses in partnership with South Africa’s most prestigious business schools including USB-Ed, University of Cape Town and GIBS. The company delivers programmes to over 5 000 students each year and has provided training in over sixty countries including those on the African continent such as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

This partnership with Cambridge Spark signals both MasterStart’s international expansion and a move into key data and analysis skills with world class technology training providers.

Says MasterStart CEO, Ben Pike: “This partnership will unlock the leadership potential of thousands of students and deliver a diverse pipeline of top talent, accelerating technological and data driven innovation.”

Comments Emma Wade-Smith OBE, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa at the UK Department for International Trade: “We welcome the Cambridge Spark and MasterStart partnership. With 230 million jobs across the continent requiring digital skills by 2030, this collaboration is timely and essential, demonstrating the impact we can make when we work together and share our knowledge and expertise to help increase skills development and prosperity across Africa.

Through Cambridge Spark’s leading data analysis and AI online training courses, students can acquire the skills they need to grow and utilise their newfound knowledge to contribute to technological advancements in essential industries like healthcare, education, financial services, and agriculture.”

“This partnership aims to develop and promote the use of data analysis to accelerate technological and data-driven innovation that will help unlock Africa’s potential on a global scale,” adds Cambridge Spark Founder and CEO Raoul-Gabriel Urma. “It will also contribute to data science skills development and the empowerment of African youths in a field that is increasingly providing opportunities for career advancement.”

The partnership is especially timely as recent South African government figures put the youth unemployment rate at record levels while at the same time many employers are finding it difficult to fill vacancies, particularly those requiring specialist skills.

The first courses kicked off earlier this month.

By Creamer Media’s Engineering News

Source: https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/masterstart-and-uk-based-cambridge-spark-collaborate-to-bring-data-analysis-and-ai-training-online-for-african-professionals-2021-07-29/rep_id:4136

MasterStart, Cambridge Spark collaboration unlocks online AI training for Africans

Students across the African continent will be able to access data analysis and AI training courses online, thanks to a new partnership between South African edtech MasterStart and UK-based Cambridge Spark, announced today.

Many African economies are struggling to meet the need for the digital skills, including data science and artificial intelligence expertise, that are needed for organisations to truly get the best out of digital transformation in the public and private sectors.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted efforts to address this, requiring skills development initiatives to move wholly online.

The Cambridge Spark MasterStart partnership aims to address this through providing access to world-class, online courses that address the need for hard technical skills combined with the human skills leaders need.

Cambridge Spark is a UK-based specialist provider of data science and artificial intelligence courses. MasterStart has spent recent years building out its portfolio of management and leadership courses in partnership with South African business schools including USB-Ed, University of Cape Town and GIBS. The company delivers programmes to over 5,000 students each year and has provided training in over 60 countries.

This partnership with Cambridge Spark signals both MasterStart’s international expansion and a move into key data and analysis skills with world class technology training providers.

Comments Emma Wade-Smith OBE, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa at the UK Department for International Trade: “We welcome the Cambridge Spark and MasterStart partnership. With 230 million jobs across the continent requiring digital skills by 2030, this collaboration is timely and essential, demonstrating the impact we can make when we work together and share our knowledge and expertise to help increase skills development and prosperity across Africa.

“Through Cambridge Spark’s leading data analysis and AI online training courses, students can acquire the skills they need to grow and utilise their newfound knowledge to contribute to technological advancements in essential industries like healthcare, education, financial services, and agriculture.”

“This partnership aims to develop and promote the use of data analysis to accelerate technological and data-driven innovation that will help unlock Africa’s potential on a global scale,” adds Cambridge Spark Founder and CEO Raoul-Gabriel Urma. “It will also contribute to data science skills development and the empowerment of African youths in a field that is increasingly providing opportunities for career advancement.”

The first courses kicked off earlier this month.

By Bizcommunity

Source: https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/499/218437.html

MasterStart and Cambridge Spark now offer AI courses throughout Africa

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic these days, but there is also a skills shortage in the space that needs to be addressed.

As it so happens, we have something that might interest those looking to dive into the world of AI.

Local edtech firm MasterStart and UK-based Cambridge Spark announced a partnership today that will open up data analysis and AI courses to folks across the African continent.

The courses will take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has notably disrupted education and as such, efforts to address the skill gap in AI and data analysis.

“This partnership aims to develop and promote the use of data analysis to accelerate technological and data-driven innovation that will help unlock Africa’s potential on a global scale,” says Cambridge Spark founder and chief executive officer, Gabriel Urma.

“It will also contribute to data science skills development and the empowerment of African youths in a field that is increasingly providing opportunities for career advancement,” the CEO added.

MasterStart has spent recent years building out its portfolio of management and leadership courses in partnership with South Africa’s most prestigious business schools including USB-Ed, University of Cape Town and GIBS.

The company delivers programmes to over 5 000 students each year and has provided training in over sixty countries including Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

If AI and data analysis doesn’t get your motor running, MasterStart has a number of business focused courses that look rather interesting such as this one from the Gordon Institute of Business Science on Digital Transformation.

For more information on MasterStart and Cambridge Spark’s AI and data analysis courses head to the MasterStart website.

By Brendyn Lotz

Source: https://www.htxt.co.za/2021/07/masterstart-and-cambridge-spark-now-offer-ai-training-courses-throughout-africa/

MasterStart and UK-based Cambridge Spark collaborate to bring data analysis and AI training online for African professionals

South African startup MasterStart and UK-based AI specialist Cambridge Spark hope to bridge the gap between hard technical skills and the human skills needed to thrive in the areas of technology that are most in demand.

South African edtech MasterStart and UK-based Cambridge Spark today announced a partnership that will provide students across the African continent with access to data analysis and AI training courses, online.

Many African economies are struggling to meet the need for the digital skills, including data science and artificial intelligence expertise, that are needed for organisations to truly get the best out of digital transformation in the public and private sectors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted efforts to address this, requiring skills development initiatives to move wholly online.

The Cambridge Spark MasterStart partnership aims to address this through providing access to world-class, online courses that address the need for hard technical skills combined with the human skills leaders need.

Cambridge Spark is a UK-based specialist provider of data science and artificial intelligence courses. MasterStart has spent recent years building out its portfolio of management and leadership courses in partnership with South Africa’s most prestigious business schools including USB-Ed, University of Cape Town and GIBS. The company delivers programmes to over 5 000 students each year and has provided training in over sixty countries including those on the African continent such as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

This partnership with Cambridge Spark signals both MasterStart’s international expansion and a move into key data and analysis skills with world class technology training providers.

Says MasterStart CEO, Ben Pike: “This partnership will unlock the leadership potential of thousands of students and deliver a diverse pipeline of top talent, accelerating technological and data driven innovation.”

Comments Emma Wade-Smith OBE, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa at the UK Department for International Trade: “We welcome the Cambridge Spark and MasterStart partnership. With 230 million jobs across the continent requiring digital skills by 2030, this collaboration is timely and essential, demonstrating the impact we can make when we work together and share our knowledge and expertise to help increase skills development and prosperity across Africa.

Through Cambridge Spark’s leading data analysis and AI online training courses, students can acquire the skills they need to grow and utilise their newfound knowledge to contribute to technological advancements in essential industries like healthcare, education, financial services, and agriculture.”

“This partnership aims to develop and promote the use of data analysis to accelerate technological and data-driven innovation that will help unlock Africa’s potential on a global scale,” adds Cambridge Spark Founder and CEO Raoul-Gabriel Urma. “It will also contribute to data science skills development and the empowerment of African youths in a field that is increasingly providing opportunities for career advancement.”

The partnership is especially timely as recent South African government figures put the youth unemployment rate at record levels while at the same time many employers are finding it difficult to fill vacancies, particularly those requiring specialist skills.

The first courses are expected to kick off in July 2021.