Women in African Tech: Breaking gender barriers in cybersecurity

Azile Yoyo, Women in African Tech


Meet Azile Yoyo, SOC Lead at CCI Global who talks about her tech career so far and how young African women are securing inspiring roles in the typically male-dominated cybersecurity space across the African continent. In this illuminating interview, Azlie talks about how tech roles across Africa are now being cultivated by the impact sourcing movement, about her experiences, and invaluable advice for other young African women.


Azile is originally from Tsolo in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, growing up in a family of 8 in the rural village of Ku-Tikitiki, a part of the world you wouldn’t consider for booming tech careers. Azile moved to the coastal city of Durban (South Africa) in search for employment around 5 years ago. Since then she has developed an exceptional skillset in the cybersecurity of Contact Centres and Telecoms with CCI Global, as well as significant training and coaching experience. She is Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certified and is a Fortinet Network Security Expert Level 3 Associate.

How did you land your current role? Was it planned?

What I have managed to achieve in my early career, was totally unplanned. I was unaware of the potential that cybersecurity, technical coding, and CCI would bring! Growing up I wanted to be a chef – I love food. But I started as call centre agent at CCI, providing customer service to English-speaking companies in the US, UK and Australia. Through the development and leadership programmes available at CCI, I became an EDMT/JML Administrator, before progressing to Desktop Technician, then Technical Writer and now SOC Lead. I worked towards it. I was a technical writer prior being a SOC Lead. It involved a lot of reading and that is when I fell in love with cybersecurity. I studied, saw an opening, and dove right in.

What are the key roles in your field of work, and why did you choose your current expertise?

I wanted to be a superhero! I get to protect my organization’s network, investigate security threats, and recommend safety mechanisms. Is my job great or what!

I lead the team and participate in investigations, identification and reporting on cyber threats. We monitor and threat hunt, so my day starts with checking emails alerting me to threats, which determines which crucial tasks get addressed first. I assist my team with whatever challenges they may have. I am proud that my team is very efficient, which allows me to focus on other things.

Did you (or do you) have a role model in African tech?

Despite what others might believe outside the continent, technological roles and business interconnectivity is now booming all across Africa.  Roles are opening up in regions such as Rwanda and Ethiopia, due to impact sourcing and companies like CCI Global partnering with Western brands for their customer service management outsourcing to Africa (BPO/impact outsourcing).

I am inspired by so many African tech leaders. Dirk Hanekom is the Co-founder and MD at Silent Guardian. I always tell him I want to be like him when I grow up. He is such an inspiration. Mervyn Pretorius, our current CTO, is brilliant. Where he goes, I go. Lillian Barnard who is the president for Microsoft Africa, has done amazing things in the tech space. We should watch the space.

Have you faced insecurities and anxiety in your career? How about being a women in the typically male-dominated cybersecurity space?

Yes, there have been obstacles and fears, but I don’t let anybody get in my way. We have come far as a company… as a country. The world is working tirelessly now to afford women in all industries the same jobs offered to men. Things have now changed for the better. And I am honoured to be living in such a generation, and to be part of a company like CCI that affords equal opportunities to all genders. At CCI 67% are female and 53% of the leadership team are women, an exceptional feat for an African-first company leading the way.

I am blessed to have an amazing support system. I have family, friends, and colleagues that I can reach out to. Plus, CCI has a wellness app that connects you to therapists and other medical professionals that are eager and willing to help.

Most importantly, our company culture. One of our values is ‘One family, one dream.’ Need I say more. There are groups and platforms created for likeminded individuals to share stories, educational tips and so forth. They cater to everyone. You just have to step out of your comfort zone when pursuing a career in tech.

What are you most proud of in your career, so far?

I’d say being recognized and applauded for doing a great job as a SOC Lead in the short space of time that I have been in this position, and having completed all my training (and the hard technical work involved in this). Other standouts include being able to help support over 1,200 employees with cybersecurity protocols and monitoring while they were working from home during the pandemic. I also just recently completed my Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

Where do you see your career in the next 5 years?

I am currently working towards my Certified Ethical Hacker certificate. I aspire to be an ethical hacker. I am hoping I will have grown both professionally and personally. Professionally, I see myself heading and managing a department at CCI Global and making sure that I am in the forefront in the cybersecurity space in Africa.




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