Women’s Month: Women of Mukuru – Sandy Rheeder

Sandy graduated from Rhodes University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Business Science (Hons) Information Systems and started her consulting career as a business analyst. She joined Mukuru three years ago after 16 years in IT consulting for a wide range of Financial Services companies, helping them to translate business goals into IT strategy. Sandy has experience in making agile work in large organisations, in managing large delivery teams, and as a specialist facilitator for both strategic and design level discussions. She is passionate about creating technology solutions that really meet customer’s needs; creating simplicity in a usually complicated tech world.

How important is the influence of family on your professional life – from parents in your formative years, to siblings, partners, etc?

Exceptionally important. I am extremely close to my parents and my sister, and I am married with two boys. Family is the most important thing in my life. So finding a company that understands this and allows me to make time for my family, has always been my top priority. I don’t feel it’s reasonable to ask me to trade my family for my career. I believe having both is an option – and it really does work.

Did you have a mentor and what role did that person play in your life?

My mum always worked and was very successful, and my Dad changed professions in his mid 50’s and became very successful. So both of them have been mentors for me.

What are the biggest challenges in your role at Mukuru?

Getting through the quantum of work as CIO is challenging – it’s a big role and requires a lot of time and energy, and when that is balanced with the time I spend at home, it can be tough. Making sure my team is well prepared and has good direction is very important. Also, being part of really good design thinking, means it’s a very multi-faceted role.

How do you deal with professional stress?

A glass of wine :). Seeing my family and remembering what is actually most important. Going on holiday and going to gym or for a good walk. Making lists and then pulling a few late nights so I can get those things marked as done!

How do you maintain a work – life balance?

By saying no sometimes. Just ensure that the balance stays. Pick the work that’s non-negotiable and make sure those balls are never dropped. But then sometimes let the other items go a bit so your family can win.

What advice would you give to women at Mukuru?

I was always told by both my parents that I could do anything I wanted to do; be whatever I wanted to be. I then had great opportunities through a university education, so I honestly believed I could be and do anything.

Many women have not had this belief instilled in them from a young age, with the opportunities to back it up. This makes self-belief a tough thing to achieve. But it’s what I would advise for women in business. Believe in yourself and seek out opportunities to learn and grow. When you take these opportunities, your belief will be rewarded with real benefit, so next time, you will believe even more.

Have the courage to try. It is very helpful to have someone to encourage and guide you. So I would also recommend that women in business find someone they trust to play a mentoring role in their lives.

What can we do as women and men to begin to deal with the scourge of women-abuse and femicide in our communities?

As a mother of sons, I believe my fundamental role is to make my boys understand how to respect and care for women. If we can help our young men understand how to behave well, we have a chance to change this tragic pattern.