by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – PALESA Gaasenwe, from the south of Johannesburg, surprised her business-focused family by opting to study information technology (IT) at tertiary level.
This despite the sector seen as a preserve for males.
She was determined to prove she was not just another pretty face but could hold her own among her male counterparts.
How that delicate career choice has paid off as today, Gaasenwe (34) is earmarked as a future group Chief Executive Officer of South Africa’s largest health and safety enterprise.
She is earmarked for that crucial role at Safety SA (NOSA), where she already is the Chief Information Officer (CIO).
Gaasenwe is also the Managing Director at MetrixCloud, the cyber security consultancy.
She exemplifies the next generation business leader.
“I finished school just as IT and digitisation was really taking off, and it triggered my interest in how technology could improve business,” said the holder of a BCom Informatics and Honours in Informatics from the University of Johannesburg as well as a Masters in Information Systems at the University of Cape Town.
She sharpened her project management and communications skills during the two-year Standard Bank Graduate Programme.
Her move to SafetySA group in 2019 coincided with the start of the company’s transition to a digitally-enabled company.
It also coincided with the arrival of her first child. Instead of this slowing her down, it enabled her to manage multiple challenges simultaneously.
She went on to broaden her range of skills at managerial roles at Cura Software Solutions, Barclays Africa and Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).
At NOSA, she is climbing the corporate ladder and is tipped as potential CEO.
Karl Campbell, NOSA group CEO, head-hunted Gaasenwe just over a year ago, having worked with her in a previous company.
It is a private equity-owned and has an exit plan for the end of 2023 or early 2024.
“As such, a succession plan is important, and we were looking out for strong contenders to take over as group head in future. Palesa was top of my list,” Campbell disclosed.
He lauded Gaasenwe’s strong technical background.
As head of MetrixCloud, and as a director and advisor on Isometrix, we have given her one of the most complex portfolios in the group but also one in which she will gain the necessary experience,” Campbell said.
He commended her as well-rounded, a unique asset and a natural leader who commands significant respect and one who could manage a business unit with little conflict.
“She approaches conflict in a collaborative fashion and comes up with a constructive solution. Her technical expertise, broad experience, and ability to lead diverse teams make her stand out.”
Gaasenwe aims to learn all she can about the health and safety sector, expand her understanding of the financial aspects of business management and embark on her PhD.
She also aims to groom younger entrepreneurs and business professionals.
“I want to make businesses as good as they can possibly be, helping transform them using the right tools and technologies,” Gaasenwe said.
– CAJ News