A Chat with Josine Overdevest: Independent Entrepreneurial Consultant; established Flying Cows of Jozi; a non-executive director on the board of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA)
This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Josine Overdevest.
Josine Overdevest's vast experience across two continents and both sides of the digital divide give her a unique perspective on people, organisations and the ever-changing society we live in. Convinced that 'it isn't either/or but both and then some more' she initiates projects across the digital divide, strategy and implementation, people and technology, business and social, the familiar and the unfamiliar.
Josine believes that digital technology has the power to amplify 21st century sustainable transformation and advocates human-centred and environmentally friendly design at the heart of it.
The potential of technology to narrow or widen divides first fascinated her when she wrote her space law thesis at Leiden University on the United Nations Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space in 1992. This fascination inspired her to emigrate to (digitally) divided South Africa in 2003 following a 10 year career at Dutch telco KPN.
Although she initially aimed to find employment at one of the South African mobile operators, she quickly found that being an independent entrepreneurial consultant suited her much better. Josine has worked on strategy projects in (rural) telecommunications, e-agriculture and e-education for clients ranging from corporates to tech start-ups.
Ever since her consultancy work on EduNet for the South African Department of Communications in 2004, she recommends public-private collaboration in bringing digital transformation to the basic education sector. From its inception in 2011 until 2018 she brought this idea into practice in the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme that in partnership with the Department of Basic Education digitally equipped District Teacher Development Centres nationwide and capacitated the centre managers and e-education specialists running them.
Excited about the potential of innovative digital solutions in the education sector and increasingly concerned about the slow adoption rate in the majority of South African schools, Josine established Flying Cows of Jozi late 2017. The company aims to ensure a better return on digital education investments and has a specific focus on the pivotal role that teachers play in 21st century education.
Since August 2021 Josine is a non-executive director on the board of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA). As chair of the Social & Ethics Committee she contributes to the realisation of IT professionalism and ethical digital transformation in the country.
From a young age Josine has a great appetite for learning and has attended many and diverse courses over the 30 years since her formal education. Recent courses include Philosophy of Technology and Design (University of Twente), The Future of Work: Preparing for Disruption (World Bank), Leading from the Emerging Future & Leading Change in Times of Disruption (MIT Presencing Institute), Teaching for Change: An African Philosophical Approach (Stellenbosch University) and Green Software for Practitioners (Green Software Foundation).
In addition to the many courses she's done and the wide variety of books she's read, she likes to learn by experiencing art in galleries and theatres and exploring life in diverse South Africa.
The company name Flying Cows of Jozi was inspired by Josine's insights from life in inner city Johannesburg, colloquially called Jozi, where she moved in 2013. This oldest part of the City of Gold pulsates with the dreams, creativity and resilience of entrepreneurs who flock to it from all over the country and the wider world. Josine shares her love for what she calls the City of Wander, City of Wonder by inviting people to join her on immersion walks and by sharing her vignettes of inner city life.
Her experience has taught her that across our differences we are much more alike than we often think we are and that in the darkest places the greatest resources can be found. She uses those insights to turn dystopian views of our technological future into more positive, ethical ones using 'what if, then how' as guiding questions.
IFIP IP3 has presented to Josine Overdevest the 2023 David O'Leary Award. The award to promote and encourage professionalism in ICT. The criteria includes Professionalism, Ethics Evangelism, and Fostering Diversity.
TO WATCH THE VIDEO INTERVIEW, CLICK ON THIS MP4 file link