Cementing change to the infrastructure industry
As CIO of cement company PPC, Kgomotso Molefe is bringing fresh technologies to this seemingly low-tech product.
He says: “Initially, I was going to do actuarial science, but that changed along the way and I registered for a B.Sc degree in computer science.”
When he finished his Honours degree he accepted a job at Accenture, and spent eight years as a management consultant designing IT solutions for telecoms companies, the public sector and financial services players.
Molefe’s next job was as an enterprise strategy consultant with Microsoft. He worked with customers to understand their problems and propose solutions.
By 2013, he joined PPC as its first CIO. “I’d lived all my life in a consulting role, so I was always on the other side. I wanted to experience being a customer and managing service providers. I thought I’d learnt a few tricks in the management consultant arena to be able to add value to the enterprise.”
Competition in the cement industry required him to redesign and add new technologies to make PPC more competitive.
The job also involves plenty of travel as PPC expands into Africa, with a new plant opening in the DRC and another being commissioned in Ethiopia. “We’ll be putting in place the infrastructure and finding solutions to the difficulties that one has doing business in the rest of Africa,” he says.
“At times, there are no certified service providers in these countries, so you do an assessment to see what’s available and what’s supported. You have to make sure you can source things in-country and have the right skills available.”
He diplomatically describes the IT that PPC had when he arrived as ‘good enough for a 100-year-old company’. Some areas needed enhancing and optimising and the executive team is totally supportive of his ideas, he says. “There wasn’t a CIO before and they realised the value that IT could give to the organisation.”
His current big focus is to integrate IT and OT – operational technology – to link the engineering side with the IT side. All the new manufacturing equipment has an operating system embedded in it, and the IT department wants to help the engineers manage that infrastructure.
His greatest achievement has been to create a strategy that everyone buys into, from the guys on the floor to the executives, he says.