Career Interview: meet Dr Paradza a distinguished project manager

Where do you currently work

I have been running my own consulting firm, ITRite Solutions since 2010.

What does your firm do?

It provides ICT consulting services in Zimbabwe and the region covering ICT advisory services, ICT audits, talent identification and nurturing, ICT project management

Tell us a little bit about your career history?

I have a career that spans over 20 years and  havebeen to a number of sectors/industries in Zimbabwe and the region.

I started my career with a consulting firm where I was involved with selling and supporting accounting packages. I then moved into the public sector (government of Zimbabwe and Telone), where I was mainly into programming and system development. I left the public sector for the private sector in search of challenges and new thrust.

My first taste of the private sector was in the Mining  (Ashanti Goldfields) where I got the opportunity to setup an ICT department from scratch. The success of this venture saw me handling similar projects within the Mining group in the region in countries like Guinea, Mali and Ghana. This spell saw me grow in confidence in the area of project management.

I then moved into manufacturing (Turnall Holdings) where I got the opportunity to lead a team of ICT experts in developing, deploying and supporting different systems. This saw me assuming project management role in the SMM Group that involved some of the big industry players like Turnall Fibre Cement, Shabani Mashava Mines, Steelnet, Hasst and FSI Agricom.

My track record of handling big projects got me head-hunted for a multi-million dollar project in a bank (FBC Bank). The project involved all the phases of a project; user requirements definition, tendering process, system selection and system deployment. I did a similar project with another bank (CBZ Bank). These two projects further sharpened my project management skills. When I moved to the 3rd bank (MBCA Bank), the frequency of projects was high as the country was going through currency debasing at an alarming frequency. Banks by their nature are always in project mode so there will be a project running at any given time.

All the private sector corporates I worked for were listed on either local bourses or international ones with some belonging to some global brands hence things were done under strict internal, regulatory, group and listing requirements controls. Projects were carried following international best practices.

My experience and track record is now seeing me getting Board nominations.

Was this always your dream career or it changed somewhere along the line?

It’s difficult to say this was my dream career. I know from high school I was comfortable with numbers so the other career I could have pursued was accounting. I indeed did accounting through Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Administrators (ICSAZ). 

How closely does your academic education fit in with your job?

It does. I am a mathematician of note as I hold global records in Mathematics in Mathematics Olympiads and Australian Mathematics competition. I also hold accounting competition records from High school in national competitions. Mathematics is essential in computer science.  My first degree was computer science and business studies.

What qualifications do you hold?

  • PhD (Business Administration)
  • MBA
  • Bachelor of Business Studies and Computer Science (BBSCT)
  • Chartered Secretary and Administrator (FCIS)
  • Diploma in Banking (AIOBZ)

In short what educational path got you where you are? Could you have made the path shorter?

From High school I went straight to university. After first degree I enrolled for CIS and concurrently MBA. The path I took to be where I am is the ideal one. It could not have been shorter. Infact I put myself through a demanding program; balancing work, school and life.

What are the tasks that you do regularly in your profession?

  • ICT project management
  • ICT advisory
  • ICT audits
  • Financial advisory
  • I sit on a number of Boards

What is it that excites you the most when you are doing your job?

Learning new things and new company culture

What bits do you find boring in your daily tasks?

Ignorance by most companies in Zimbabwe who relegate ICT to a 2nd or 3rd tier in terms of importance.

Any advice to those studying or aiming at this job or career?

Be prepared to learn. ICT project management demands that you become well versed with all the sectors of the economy. For you to be successful you need a business qualification on top of your ICT skills.