Top 10: Women in Data Centres in MEA

We consider some of the leading women in the data centre industry in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) committed to advancing connectivity in the region

Women currently make up less than 10% of the data centre industry.

According to Intelligent CIO, the low number of women in the data centre sector is not unique or local. However, as the data centre industry gains traction across the Middle East and Africa (MEA), it is essential that gender diversity should also be growing.

It is also essential that, rather than just paying lip service, companies are doing their best to elevate women across technology enterprises and allow them to reach leadership roles.

With this in mind, Data Centre Magazine takes a look at some of the leading women currently working in the data centre industry based in MEA.

10. Carla Sanderson, Head of Marketing at Teraco Data Environments and Member of Open-IX Association

Carla Sanderson

Carla Sanderson is a data centre advocate and seeks to help the industry meet specific standards to remain resilient and well-connected. She has worked for Teraco Data Environments since 2010, supporting the company in international best practice for vendor-neutral data centre management. 

Based in South Africa, she is also a member of the Open-IX Association, a self-regulated community that aims to foster the development of critical data centre operating standards in a framework that works for everyone. Specifically, Carla promotes uniform specifications for data transfer and physical connectivity to improve sector reliability.

9. Nikki Blake, Head of Sales & Marketing for Africa at Bergvik Group

Nikki Blake

With a demonstrated history of success and a passion for people, Nikki Blake is an experienced figure in business development across the data centre sector. Having worked with Bergvik Group since 2019, her expertise lies in operations management, communication and project management.

Nikki holds a clear understanding of how the data centre industry is evolving and a commitment to support it. Her extensive career background in construction and connectivity helps to grow innovation, source projects and keep communities safe.

8. Fatma Ashkanani, Chief Corporate Officer at Khazna Data Centers

Fatma Ashkanani

With experience across the data centre and IT sectors, Fatma Ashkanani works across business development, asset management, performance management and digital transformation. Based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Fatma joined Khazna Data Centers in 2016, having previously worked with Mubadala Investment Company.

Fatma is working to develop the company’s vision of accelerating innovation and building a better data centre future within the Middle East. She is committed to helping businesses drive critical digital solutions to advance their innovation and providing data hosting solutions.

7. Mary Kariuki, Marketing Manager for Digital Infrastructure in Sub Saharan Africa, Africa Data Centres Association

Mary Kariuki

Mary Kariuki is a committed data centre professional keen to inspire the next generation to explore the field of data centre technology. 

She has worked with Africa Data Centres Association since January 2024, the trade organisation of data centres within Africa. Its mission is to provide a platform for African data centre operators, both commercially and politically, to promote and develop growth for the industry.

Prior to this, Mary worked with IXAfrica Data Centre to develop and implement data centre marketing strategies, planning successful campaigns across social media and events.

6. Nompumelelo Mokou, Former MEA Chief of Staff at Dimension Data

Nompumelelo Mokou

Nompumelelo Mokou is a data centre professional committed to leading change within the IT and technology sectors. She first became MD of Dimension Data in 2021, before becoming MEA Chief of Staff for the company at the end of 2023. 

Prior to this, she has held key leadership roles at companies such as EY, Ngubane & Co and Eskom. Committed to advancing progress, Nompumelelo has also held the role of Chairperson for several organisations, including the Sowetan branch of the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa, CATHSSETA, Dimension Data Employment Equity & Skills Development Committee and the Dimension Data Provident Fund.

Nompumelelo has now stepped down from Dimension Data. As of March 2024, she is on sabbatical. 

5. Faith Waithaka, Cloud and Service Provider Segment Sales Lead: Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric

Faith Waithaka

Faith Waithaka is an engineering and sales professional that is seeking to drive real growth across the data centre sector in Africa. Based in Kenya, she has worked with Schneider Electric for nearly five years to advance business transformation in the cloud, in addition to the company’s growth across key technology markets.

Prior to joining Schneider Electric, Faith has also worked at leading data centre company Vertiv and Flexenclosure Kenya Limited. She has also previously spoken with Data Centre Magazine about some of the sustainable benefits that prefabricated modular data centres can offer Africa.

4. Wabo Majavu, Executive Strategy and Business Operations at Africa Data Centres

Wabo Majavu

Wabo Majavu has more than 15 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and has become an expert in driving a clear strategy across all aspects of business operations and product management. She joined Africa Data Centres in January 2023 and is based in South Africa.

Prior to joining Africa Data Centres, she was a Senior Market Advisor for Mobile Networks at Intelsat and has worked for leading organisations such as CSIR, MTN and Digital Terrestrial Network.

3. Mouna Essa-Egh, Vice President MEA, Secure Power division and Datacenter Business at Schneider Electric

Mouna Essa-Egh

Mouna Essa-Egh has worked within the IT industry for more than 20 years, having held diverse sales manager roles across a range of technology-led industries. She has worked all around the world and is now based in the UAE.

Having joined Schneider Electric in 2018, Mouna now works to help data centre managers to build sustainable and efficient data centre buildings. She is currently responsible for the IT section of the company in the Middle East. Her goal is to offer world-class data centre solutions to enhance sustainability and efficiency.

2. Funke Opeke, CEO at MainOne

Funke Opeke

For more than a decade, Funke Opeke has been one of the driving forces behind the development of Nigeria’s digital infrastructure and economy. Her company, MainOne has grown to become West Africa’s leading communications services and network solutions provider. 

Funke has overseen the construction of the region’s first privately-owned, open access, 7,000 kilometre undersea high capacity submarine cable, as well as the country’s largest Tier III data centre. MainOne was acquired by Equinix for US$320m in December, 2021.

1. Mara Manni, Data Center Business Operations Leader for Middle East and Africa at Microsoft

Mara Manni joined Microsoft to support its MEA data centre ventures in 2023 with the goal of innovating operations processes to impact financial results. Her role sees her building up Microsoft’s data centre capabilities within the Middle East, in addition to committing to diversity and inclusion within the company.

She joined the tech giant after spending three years at KPMG and 14 years at fellow tech giant IBM. With both of these companies, she has built plenty of experience in leading cross-culture and international teams across the Middle East and is now an expert in performance management, professional service operations, innovation and technology and automation transformation.

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