Lise Hagen is a PhD candidate, management research consultant and the Founder and Director of Herding Cats Innovarium, a technology insight and innovation advisory firm in South Africa. She has over 20 years’ experience applying socio-political, economic, and ICT mega trend insights to business problems.
As part of our spotlight series on the faces behind ALX, we spoke with Lise – who applies her vast skill set to the Global Brand team as a project consultant – to find out about her learning journey and unique perspective on the world of tech, discovering nuggets of wisdom for women looking to pursue a career in the industry.
My background is eclectic. While my professional background is in consulting and research, my academic background is in literature, anthropology, and business studies. I think my ability to combine a strategic top-down view with an emphasis on bottom-up representation got me to where I am.
I didn’t so much as enter the tech field as that it was the expansion of the tech field that made it inseparable from every business. Moreover, I wanted to understand how things work and how they are put together, which are two skills that the tech field values.
In my role as a project consultant, I support highly-talented creatives to do what they do best: dazzle and delight us by making the brands under ALI the best they can be.
Working with fabulous creatives on interesting projects whilst contributing to ALX and unlocking our incredible African talent.
I feel that women need to reclaim their close connection to high technology, whether it is in hardware manufacturing or coding, because technology is just a tool; it is how one uses the tool that makes one powerful. Empowered individuals make a difference in the world, and we must be the change we want to see.
I think every individual brings along their own perspective, and it is in the richness and depth of varied perspectives that new and exciting opportunities become possible. I don’t have a technical background, but I am a divergent thinker and insatiably curious. As a result I provide a different point of view.
The challenges in my career have almost never been about hard skills, but rather on how self-limiting beliefs narrowed my options to what I believed was possible. It is when one throws those insecurities aside that career magic happens.
I never had a mentor when I started out; I never even thought it was relevant until I found out what genuine support, a safe space to articulate one’s thoughts and frustrations, and tough love can do to spur one on to unforeseen heights. A mentoring relationship can be as brief as a profound conversation; it needn’t be a relationship that lasts for years.
The incredible potential of a whole continent! I am a firm believer that Africa already has answers to questions that are asked globally.
Determination, focus, empathy and a sense of humour.
Generally, people just jump at any job that becomes available and that’s what I did out of necessity. When I just started out, I never even considered that one can create a career, but once you recognise that you have that power, it is vital that there is a common theme that ties your career decisions together. For me, it is that I always need to do something that I find interesting.
ALX is proud to support its learners and graduates throughout their career journeys. Find out more about how ALX is creating the next generation of African women in tech.