-Arivia.kom has appointed four female executives to key positions, placing the IT company at the forefront of the industry's gender empowerment drive and cracking the "stiletto ceiling" which separates women from the top echelons of business. Nicky Mogorosi, Mickey Mashale, Johanna Tshili and Ann Ngutshane occupy the positions of chief financial officer (CFO), business development executive, infrastructure business executive and human resources executive respectively.

"Promoting diversity in its ranks has been important to arivia.kom for some time," says arivia.kom HR executive Ann Ngutshane. "No other IT company can boast that almost 50% of its executives are female. In fact, there are few major companies in South Africa that have achieved this level of representation on their executive committees. Two further noteworthy accomplishments are that four of our executives are black women and blacks occupy eight of the 11 executive positions."

Nicky Mogorosi, now chief financial officer and an executive director of arivia.kom, joined the company as financial manager responsible for budgeting and reporting. Mogorosi was subsequently appointed group financial manager of arivia.kom. As CFO she will serve on the arivia.kom board of directors, alongside CEO Zeth Malele and COO Hugo Knoetze.

Mickey Mashale, appointed in April 2005 as business development executive, has a BSc, telecommunications and marketing diplomas, and is studying towards her MBA. Previously, Mashale was at Mergent Technologies as a key accounts manager and led the South African Communication Forum (SACF) bid for a stake in the Second National Operator (SNO). She received the SACF industry award for outstanding performance, management and leadership of the team.

Ann Ngutshane's undergraduate studies in psychology and history took place overseas and she led an active political career to promote democracy in South Africa. Her career has spanned teaching, counselling, and projects coordination before moving into organisation development. She has served as HR manager for both the Nampak Group and the Land and Agriculture Bank of SA.

Johanna Tshili has over ten years risk advisory, corporate governance, financial and audit experience at corporate level. Tshili was instrumental in establishing arivia.kom's corporate risk management division and thereby gained in-depth understanding of arivia.kom business operations.

* Last week Africa Online spent a week celebrating its tenth anniversay with a customer event at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi. A number of awards were made to the founders of the company and to loyal customers. There have been points where it looked like it would not make it and CEO Lesley Davy acknowledged as much in her speech, talking of the "ups and downs". Nevertheless she was able to say with some confidence now:"Today, unlike many of its peers, Africa Online is a robust commercial entity with direct operations in eight countries and a presence in five others through joint ventures and affiliates. We are proud to be a homegrown African multinational".

"Indeed the scope of our progress and size means that today we compete head to head with well established competitors and win on a regular basis. as an example: when sita, who, I am sure you know, are the global leaders in air transport networking and have operations in 220 countries, was looking for an ISP to partner with in Africa, we tendered for the business in direct competition with a number of American multinationals and beat them by winning the contract".