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When women connect, the world changes

   Letter from the Editor
July 2011   

A world connected by stories

In light of the recent tragedy that rocked the world in Norway, acclaimed children’s author Michael Morpurgo wrote an essay to tell the Norwegian people to draw strength from their mythology.

Drawing a link with the monster Grendel in the ancient story Beowulf, Morpurgo reminds us that the struggle between good and evil is at the heart of so many of our legends. “They are warning tales, to alarm and to terrify – yes, to entertain too – but essentially to remind us of our frailty.”

The healing power of stories is both comforting and instinctive. In this issue you can read how the women of Lyttelton in New Zealand have used a focus on optimism and community to create a new story for their devastated town.

Citizen blogging has given us all the opportunity to become storytellers and journalists. Whether we blog, tweet or post photographs, there are daily opportunities to share experiences and thoughts with our friends and communities all over the world.

I’ve just had the wonderful experience of a family trip to Europe. We spent plenty of time on trains of course and I used this time to catch up on work and confirm some of the brilliant speakers who will be participating in the first Wired Women Conference in September. (See Upcoming Events below.)

I also microblogged my journey on Twitter and Facebook, and received a few comments from friends telling me to relax and stop thinking about work. I defended my addiction to my BlackBerry by telling them that it’s one of the privileges of the www (wonderful wired world) we are part of that it's possible to do both! And let's face it, often the input of different sounds, smells, languages and cultures is just too creatively stimulating to resist:-)

This world of connection and conversation is one that reflects the way women build community and share information naturally. The Wired Women Conference is a way to encourage women’s voices in the digital economy, to celebrate the women who are using technology to change the world and to find inspiring ways for more of us to do the same.

Join us!

Warm regards

Debby Edelstein

PS We’d love to hear from you so please write to us about any burning issues you have around women’s leadership.

   The mini-interview

5 minutes with… Mardia van der Walt-Korsten

Mardia van der Walt-Korsten is the managing director of T-Systems South Africa, the biggest ICT outsourcer in the country. She is the recipient of the Nedbank Businesswoman of the Year Award, the IT Web ICT Personality of the Year Award, and the SITA ICT Legend Award for her contribution to ICT Development.

What kind of impact are women having on the digital economy?

Women are having an increasing impact both locally and internationally. However, it is still a predominantly male area globally. No European Union member state has more than 1/3 women researchers in engineering and technology, while the average is 10%.

In the US, women make up 9% of mid- to upper-level IT engineers; 28,5% of computer programmers; 26,9% of systems analysts and 85% of data entry workers.


   Book review

Personal Growth African Style by Barbara Nussbaum, Sudhanshu Palsule and Velaphi Mkhize
Reviewed by Wendy Ward

"Umuntu, ngumuntu, ngabantu" – Zulu phrase meaning "a person is a person through other people"

"uBuntu calls upon you to have a deep consciousness of self and other as well as self and community."

If one word could encapsulate the content of Personal Growth African Style (Penguin Books South Africa) it would be 'humaneness'. This book guides us in unearthing our own sense and spirit of humanity and enlightens us by encouraging us to dig deeper. Revealed here is the already existing wisdom that lies at the heart of the Continent of Africa, and readers are invited to discard the old perceptions of Africa and her people, and to look through a new lens.


   Community leadership

How women are rebuilding Christchurch
By Kim Shaw

Photographs courtesy Love Lyttelton and Harbour Arts Collective

In her recently released book, The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain (Pantheon Books), cognitive neuroscientist Dr Tali Sharot discusses the effect of trauma on memory and how an optimistic bias that is seemingly hardwired into our brains sees us focus on the glass as half full instead of half empty.

In the town of Lyttelton, New Zealand, the epicentre of the earthquakes that ravaged Christchurch earlier this year, Dr Sharot would be able to watch optimism in action as women have taken leadership roles that benefit the townsfolk and help rebuild from within.

Lyttelton (population 3 072) rests in the Harbour Basin area and is the port that serves Christchurch. Connected to the city by road and rail tunnels and two passes, one of which is still closed, it's just a 20-minute drive to the centre of Christchurch.

Margaret Jefferies has been a resident of Lyttelton since 1998 and is one of many who are wholly committed to the rebuilding of the town. Margaret has always regarded her place of work as being with people and within her community – in the early 2000s she set up three Spirit at Work conferences in Christchurch that were attended by people from all over New Zealand.



This month we've got a luxurious stay at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa for two plus two gorgeous handbags from African Queen to give away!

Congratulations to last month's winners of the Valley Lodge & Spa getaway as well as eight sets of Imazine Ionic watches and bracelets. The lucky winners are…

Valley Lodge & Spa getaway: Saleha Saib

Imazine Ionic watches and bracelet sets: Natasha Salant, Elizabeth Mosikidi, Paula Norman, Vasagie Naidoo, Arlene Botha, Audrey Eichbauer, Isobel Fowler and Salochini Chetty


Win a luxurious stay at the five-star Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa in Sandton by emailing your name and contact details, as well as the answer to the following question, to Lizzy.

Entries must reach us by 15 August 2011.

One lucky winner will receive an overnight stay for two people sharing in a Grande Chateau Suite, three-course gourmet dinner with wine pairing, breakfast and hot stone full body treatment for two.

Question: What is the name of the restaurant at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa?



Two lucky readers will each win a handbag from African Queen, valued at around R2 500. Email your name and contact details, as well as the answer to the following question, to Lizzy.

Entries must reach us by 15 August 2011.

Question: Name two of the items created by African Queen.


   Bright idea

How to capture creativity

Those light bulb moments you have during shower time don't have to go down the plughole. Visual facilitator Roy Blumenthal ( captures his ideas with an ordinary pencil on shelf wrap, which he sticks onto the shower tiles – the more ideas he has, the more shelf wrap goes onto the tiles.

Roy says, "I then use a smartphone (an HTC DESIRE running Android) to photograph parts of my idea wall and send those pictures to an app called EVERNOTE, which I can access and search on any of my many devices – iPad, Asus Eee Pad Transformer (an Android tablet, similar to an iPad), and my three tablet PC computers."

Although you could add an eraser to the mix, Roy believes "recording the idea is more important than finessing it".

   Upcoming events

QualityLife Company has a number of workshops coming up during August, as well as the Wired Women Conference in September. For more information or to book, email Lizzy, call 011 880 9749 or visit

Understanding Financial Statements:
30th - 31st August, Johannesburg

Great business leaders aren't all accountants. They've just learned to read between the lines of a financial statement. Where others see figures, they see opportunities for maximizing the potential that exists, while limiting the risks. No matter what your role, a better understanding of financial concepts and language will have long-term benefits in your career. When you’ve survived audits and reports, how do you harness the power of financial information? Is it possible to interpret the deeper message without being an accounting whiz kid?

Grow Your Own Consultants:
26th - 28th September, Johannesburg

Many business units have a role in the organisation that requires their staff to consult to other parts of the same company. Whether in a problem solving, service provision or advice giving capacity, this programme equips teams with consulting skills so that they know how to engage with internal and/or external clients using a professional approach, one that both discerns the real needs and at the same time builds ongoing constructive relationships.

Wired Women Conference: How Technology can Change the World:
14th - 15th September 2011, Johannesburg

How can we encourage more women to play a central role in the digital economy? This conference will showcase the women thought leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators who are harnessing technology to change the world and inspire you with tools to do the same.

   How to advertise?

To advertise in this newsletter call Dunne on
011 880 9749 or email Dunne.