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Ingrid talks IT and growth at Debmarine Namibia
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08 March 2020 Author  
Information Technology (IT) is an integral part in the operations of any organisation.  As Namibia celebrates International Women’s Day 2020 on Sunday March 8th,  we shine the light on women leading in the sector. 
We focus a well-deserved spotlight on Ingrid Hermanas (IH) who is the SAP Manager at Debmarine Namibia.
WO:  Kindly introduce yourself: your name, your position and your area of responsibility at Debmarine?
IH:  My name is Ingrid Hermanas and I'm in the IT department responsible for SAP. So, I'm the SAP Manager here. We support three companies Namdeb, Debmarine and De Beers Namibia.
WO: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
IH: It’s a celebration and acknowledgement of women all over the world for their contribution to society.
WO:  What is your view about women in your sector?
IH:  Previously, it wasn't that easy to get here. But I think currently, it's more diverse especially in IT. Today there are lot more opportunities for women in IT positions. It's much easier this time around. In my time it wasn't so easy, but it is really nice to get here.
WO:  Would you say women are getting equal opportunity when it comes to certain roles in organisations, especially in your sector?
IH: We're getting there and we are earning opportunities now. In my view women should take the opportunities that are available.  All in all, we are getting there, for sure.
WO: Why did you choose a career in IT, let alone work for a mining company?
IH: I would say the challenges is more or less the time slots that you have to work, which is mostly after hours, especially in the IT environment, as well as in the mining environment. As a woman you have to juggle your responsibilities, because you still have to look after your family. So, if you've got support back at home, it's a lot easier to go that route. We have to embrace the challenges and we must aggressively go after the available opportunities, which are presenting themselves to women.
WO:   Was IT your first career choice?
IH) It was definitely my first choice, it was an upcoming challenge and it was an interesting challenge, so I just went for it.  I applied to study for the IT degree from the beginning. And in the first year, the male students were like, okay, let's show you how to play games so that when you fail, you will at least know how to play games. They challenged me. So, if you're up for a challenge, you can show them that you are not there for playing games, but to study hard and succeed in achieving your goals. 
WO: If you were given a chance to start all over again, would you still choose a career in IT?
IH:  Definitely, I would still choose IT. I've got no regrets about it and I love my job.
WO: Are you a person who is ready to break barriers?
IH) Not going against or breaking barriers as such, but going for the challenge. That’s my attitude.
WO:   Working for Debmarine Namibia, a mining company, was it an easy choice?
IH:  I was always interested in the infrastructure side of the IT environment. So, when I saw the position at Debmarine, I said, okay, here's an opportunity, let's go for it and I didn't look back since. I got equal opportunities here. They treat me like a peer. They understand that women can also fulfil their roles competently.   At any given time, I have never looked back and said, “no, that was the wrong decision.”
WO:  What do you think are some of the top challenges for a woman working in today's world, especially in Namibia?
IH:  The most difficult challenge is creating a proper balance between work and home.  You have to manage the balance as it were and you also have to have the support of your family at home. That allows you the freedom to grow in your profession.
WO:  What can you share with others that are struggling to achieve that balance?
IH:  The only thing that I can say is that if you get the support from your husband and your family at home it gives you unprecedented opportunities. Because for example, when you work late, there will be somebody at home taking care of whatever's going on at home.  Also, get your peers to mentor and coach you.  That kind of support on the job really helps.
WO:  There is a perception that women always find themselves having to choose between careers and having a family.  Is that a fair assessment?
IH:  I think it's just a perception. It often depends on who you are. It differs from person to person. From my perspective, it is a challenge like any other in life, as long as you are focussed and know what you really want. As long as you know what you're doing, and you've got the acknowledgement from your peers. If you have the right support, you can grow in any direction that you want.
WO:  In your career, how important was the support you received from colleagues and how conducive was your work environment?
IH: Support was key for me. The support from your peers and your management is really crucial and becoming successful.
WO:  IT is an ever-changing field.  How do you keep abreast with the changes and the demands of your role?
IH:  Oh, yes, it's definitely ever-changing, always upgrading. You have to keep abreast with the technology. You have to constantly learn and constantly network with others in your field to stay on top of your game.
WO: How do you handle the pressures of being in charge of a system for such a big organisation?
IH:  You have to understand the business and you have to understand the environment. You have to know where the business is going and to keep abreast with the technology that’s available, and by mindful not to introduce changes that are likely to disrupt the business. You have to look carefully at what you are doing and when you are doing it. You have to work closely with your team and with your peers and your management so that you are on the right path.
WO:  What have you learned about yourself in all the years you've been working at Debmarine Namibia?
IH:  Debmarine Namibia has enabled me to grow as a woman and as a person, a manager, and a leader and in my position.
WO: What advice would you give other women who may want to pursue a career in IT or the mining sector?
IH) Go for it, the world is yours, go for it by all means.  It opens so many doors for you. There’s no limit as to what you can achieve.
WO:  Is there anything you would like to add?
IH:  Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my views and experience as a professional, and a woman to boot.

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