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Building Better Teams and Solutions: A Conversation with Edinah Lidonde, Software Development Manager at Entelect

At Entelect, Edinah stands out as a dedicated Software Development Manager whose journey and vision offer valuable insights into creating effective and inclusive tech environments. With a background that spans from aspiring aeronautical engineer to a pivotal figure in software development, Edinah's story is one of passion, perseverance, and profound impact. In this interview, she shares her daily responsibilities, the inspirations behind her career, and her strategies for overcoming challenges, all while fostering a culture of diversity and innovation within her team.

Can you share a bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?

I am Software Development Manager at Entelect. My mandate is to create a great employee experience that results in delivery and in turn a positive customer experience.

In essence, a typical day entails ensuring we get the job done, meeting the commitments we have made to our customer. I do this with my team. Hence why it is important that they have what they need to succeed.

There are days where the focus is one-on-ones with members of my team. I enjoy these as it gives us an opportunity to connect outside of our normal project-related engagements.

Other days, the focus is on spending time with my customers, as this is where I get to understand what problems they are looking to solve and what role we as a team can play in helping to solve them.

“It is amazing working with a group of talented individuals to bring a concept to life.”

This involves doing what is necessary. From ensuring team alignment, understanding if we are progressing as planned, and if there are any issues that I need to assist with resolving.


What inspired you to pursue a career in software development? Was it always something you wanted to do?

I actually wanted to be an aeronautical engineer when I was younger but got the opportunity to study at Rhodes University. This involved my aunt submitting a BSc in Science application on my behalf. I was a bit uneasy about taking a BSc in Science, so I ended up pivoting my majors to Computer Science and Information Systems.

I was not clear on what my career would be in the end but attending the Graduate Career Fairs enabled me to meet two amazing people - Lungile Mdlophane and Dave Stevens. They were passionate individuals who were engaged in an organisation that enabled them to solve problems through Business Consulting. I remember thinking to myself, “There it is…that is what I want to do.”


Can you speak to your journey of entering the field of software development and how you progressed to your current leadership position at Entelect?

Through my interaction with Lungile and Dave, I ended up participating in the BSG Brilliance competition. I was fortunate to be selected as one of the winners and this resulted in me spending a week shadowing a consultant at BSG.

Once the week was done, I could not wait to submit my application as there was the option to work whilst completing my BCom Hons in Information Systems at Wits. I still remember the call letting me know that I had gotten the job. I kept asking whether they were sure!

Once at BSG, I got the opportunity to work on a few system implementation projects which I really enjoyed. I always believed in the importance of the culture of an organisation. So, when looking at where to next, I did a bit of homework on Entelect, spoke to individuals who knew people who had moved there and really felt it was the place for me.

I submitted my application and after three rounds of interviews, I succeeded in getting a job as a Software Development Manager.


What unique perspectives or approaches do you think you bring to your team and Entelect, as well as our customers?

There has been a theme in the feedback I have shared. The people you meet and those around you can have a significant impact on your life. My aunty did not have to apply on my behalf, but she did. Lungile and Dave did not have to entertain a conversation with me, but they did.

Our roles require us to engage with people often, some of whom we know, but often people we don’t. So, whenever I need to do something that involves me engaging with someone new, I remind myself that the worst they can say is no.

That gives me the oomph to start a chat or make a call to seek assistance when needed. This has resulted in me learning to build a good network that enables my teams and our delivery.


What obstacles or biases have you faced in your career journey, how did you overcome them, and what advice would you give to other women aspiring to leadership roles in previously male-dominated fields?

I was once working on a project, and we had one computer we could use to create cards to test. One of the IT individuals changed the settings, and we could no longer connect the computer to the card printer. This was an issue as we were preparing to commence testing of ATMs which require test cards to do so.

I then phoned the individual who made the change and failed to convince him that the changes he had made needed to be rolled back so we could proceed. I then called one of our male counterparts and told him exactly what to say and the changes were reverted.

We ended up laughing about the situation as he had watched me try to convince someone for 10 mins and he did in two, saying exactly what I had at the start of the conversation.

The reason why this stands out for me is that it is one of the few times I realised that the issue was not what I was saying but potentially who was delivering it. When such situations arise, it is important to focus on the result. Is there another way you can achieve what you need? If so, do it and move on.
I think I was only able to do so as I had a good working environment and a supportive team.

“The culture of an organisation is driven by its people, not the cool stuff you get for free.”

So, my advice is to do your homework on potential employers, find a way to chat to current and former employees so you know what you’re signing up for.


Can you describe a particularly memorable project or accomplishment in your career, and what lessons did you learn from it?

My most memorable project is the same one where I encountered a bias. We also encountered a problem which resulted in a financial loss. I was heartbroken and disappointed, but I had two options… shrink or get up, drive the resolution and prevent future failures. We managed to recover part of the money and I created a run book that made future phases of the project run a lot smoother.


In your opinion, what initiatives or strategies can organisations implement to foster diversity and inclusivity in tech teams?

I don’t think there is a single initiative or strategy that can foster diversity and inclusivity. It should be in the organisation’s DNA. Culture is not driven from the top down but also from the bottom up. An organisation that values diversity and inclusivity will have a standard of what is acceptable and what is not.

These do not have to be policed but embraced by the individuals within the organisation.


What do you envision for the future of women in leadership positions in the tech industry, and what role do you hope to play in shaping that future?

There are more and more women coming through into the tech industry. This is mainly being driven by more female students taking up STEM subjects and making up a bigger percentage of students pursuing IT-related courses. As a result, I see more female representation in leadership positions in the future.

I hope to play a role in creating an inclusive environment. Where people succeed in their roles regardless of their gender, have a voice and space to make a meaningful contribution to their organisation.