CAD elevates and inspires people’s skills within Mentors
Dr Harmse says when things get tough remember the following saying-
“Pick up your head princess, your crown is falling”
By Nontobeko Zondi – 23 August 2021
A woman of thought, a woman of praise… Dr Anneke Harmse, is one of the female leaders the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) has in the academic sphere.
She obtained her undergraduate qualifications from the then Vaal Triangle Technikon (VTT) in 1997, followed by a Masters’ degree from VUT in 2006. She then completed her PhD in Information Technology (IT) at the North-West University. Her thesis was titled: “Expectations of Industry regarding the ICT competencies of HEI graduates”.
Dr Harmse was appointed as a Lecturer in the Department of ICT in 2002. “During my tenure as a Lecturer, I taught sixteen different Diploma and BTech modules, such as Information Systems, Expert Systems and Research Methodology. I found it exhilarating to instil the value of inquiry in students” she stated. Although simple learning and absorption are necessary for gaining competency in a discipline, the ability to generate specific, rigorous, and often open-ended discussions, accelerates teaching and learning, using everyday life scenarios.
She wishes to believe that a variety of teaching approaches, combined with relevant case study discussions, could stimulate young adults and develop them as entrepreneurs to better the field and develop the South African IT industry to attain new heights.
Dr Harmse has been in the position of Acting Head of Department for 3 years and was appointed as HoD in July 2021.
She added that, to complete tasks and submit reports in time is one aspect of being an HOD. The other is to lead and manage a team. Challenges keep growing and changing. To name but a few, she manages staff, departmental matters, e.g. safety, security, staff well-being, negotiating interpersonal relations between staff within the department and colleagues from other departments.
She has learned how to deal with interpersonal relations since her appointment as a Lecturer and continue to do so now as HOD. She further alluded that being an HOD is a challenging but a satisfying experience. “I enjoy the responsibility of leadership as it allows me to assist the department in becoming a better version of who we currently are. I am learning, growing and developing at the same time as a result of this process. With each new leadership assignment and challenge that comes my way, I experience personal and professional growth” she revealed.
Dr Harmse is honoured to work with a department that supports her as a leader and to know that she can count on the support of her colleagues during times of need and crisis. “I believe in an inclusive and transparent management style. I find that this method provides a safe avenue, not only for myself, but for the department, to air views that lead to positive and valuable decisions being taken” she stated.
It is her belief that this approach provides companionship in departmental activities rather than enforcing activities that would not be of value to their students, employee working relations and ultimately, the image of VUT. “This characteristic of our department makes it a pleasure to achieve my goals as the Head of the Department” she added.
She further mentioned that being the leader of a department requires an ability to be a student and a contributing staff member, committed to collegiality across departments, VUT and collaborative activities with colleagues nationally and internationally. She aims to initiate such relationships going forward. In her view, her role is to contribute to facilitating good academic and university practice.
She stipulated that women process things uniquely and different from men. Fortunately for her, she has been influenced by strong women (mentors) who have inspired her, and she values their leadership style. “I’ve grown to understand their decision-making processes, the complexities and dynamics of their personalities, style and other unique and admirable female characteristics. My desire is respect rather than recognition. I do not wish to be the star of the show, instead, I wish others to create a spectacular show” she said. In other words, the ability to influence positive results with maximum impact is more important than the forceful power to change outcomes with short-term gains. Dr Harmse believes in herself and her innate abilities. She is extremely keen on exposure to new, fresh ideas, to learn from peers and being exposed to new ideas in all aspects of life.
She lives by these three mottos:
“As long as you move forward”; “What is next?” and “What have I contributed?”
Her advice to all young women of South Africa is: “Be bold, live with honesty and integrity. Be responsible submissive and respectful. Ask God for direction in all you do. When things get tough remember the following saying- “Pick up your head princess, your crown is falling”. Family is extremely important – UBUNTU is paramount! Raising your own offspring is an experience worth living for. To this end, I ensure that despite workloads and academic demands, raising my teenage son is the most challenging, exciting and heart-warming activity I face daily” she concluded.