We All Have A Part To Play – Ncumisa Hlapo


I met Ncumi through mutual connections on Linkedin. Her work in Business Intelligence captured my attention. I wanted to know more about her STEM journey and here we are;

Hi Ncumi, thank you for accepting to contribute to this episode of Words That Count. We are delighted to host you today.
Hi Winnie, This is a great cause, well done and thank you for committing to such needed work to uplift the girl child. We need more girls in STEM. It is a great pleasure for me to churn in with my voice.

Thank you very much for the kind words and encouragement!

Kindly introduce yourself to our audience
My name is Ncumisa Hlapo from South Africa. I am a Business Intelligence Analyst.

How did you end up in the world of Business Intelligence?
I was born and raised in Khayelitsha, Cape Town by a single mother of three girls who mostly sold second hand clothes to raise us. I got my early learning and development in public schools in Khayelitsha until I got a scholarship to a STEM specialist school in grade 10 through to grade 12.

My plan was to study to become a quantity surveyor or civil engineer until I passed matric and realized I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I could no longer picture myself out in the field with an engineering gear. I then negotiated with my strong willed and decisive mother that I needed to take a gap year after matric. I took the gap year working as a volunteer in a nearby community centre and hospice.

Towards the end of my gap year, my mother reminded me that I owed her a qualification so I needed to go back to school. Still unsure of what I wanted to study, my older sister who was already in varsity told me that all the clever people like me were now doing IT and she thinks I would be good at it. So I took her advice and enrolled for Information Technology at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Before I completed my studies I walked to the Head Offices of one of South Africa’s big retail companies, which was near my campus to ask for an Internship opportunity as this was a requirement for me to graduate my IT qualification. I managed to secure an internship at that company in their Business Intelligence department. That’s where I fell in love with Data Analytics, Business Intelligence specifically. Once I was in, I asked what it is I would need to do for them to hire me on a permanent basis. They said “Perform” and make sure you graduate. I did just that and have since been growing within the Business Intelligence field now working for one of South Africa’s big banks and also doing Data Literacy education and advocacy in my personal capacity.

I decided to pursue data literacy education for young and upcoming analysts because I recognized that there is a need to demystify the Data Analytics field in order to open the industry to more talent and to help that talent understand how they can take advantage of the many opportunities that exist in this field.

What challenges have you faced along the way?
Challenges I have met along the way were understanding how I could position myself to make a lasting impact and grow in this field. I overcame this by approaching people who were ahead of me in the journey for mentorship and guidance. I also invested a lot in career guidance programs and education.

What has inspired you to move forward at every point in your career?
What inspired me to move forward was realising that there is a need / gap in the field that is attached to my unique talents and interpretation of things. I believe that all of us are here to advance and move the world and society forward. We all have a part to play. I realised what my part was and that keeps me going every day; knowing that I have a part to play in advancing data analytics as a field and opening up pathways for other young people to access opportunities.

Tell us about your achievements and awards
My greatest achievement is mentoring young talent and equipping them with industry knowledge and support as they take up and continue in their data analytics career journeys.

Who are you outside work?
Outside of work, I am a wife and mother of two. I am a mentor and cheer leader of progress.

What’s your favourite quote?
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” ~ June Jordan

What is your encouragement for a young girl in STEM?
Your dreams are valid and you are the one to make them come true. You can do whatever you put your mind to, so never let societal norms and whether or not what you want for yourself has been done or not stop you. Commit to going against any thought and anyone that says you can’t!! Because you can and you will.

Thank you very much Ncumi, for taking time to speak with me. I am truly humbled to be sharing your story with the world. I know, without any doubt, that someone out there will be inspired.

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