2023 – Fazlyn Petersen (Senior lecturer – Department of Information Systems, University of the Western Cape)

Dr Fazlyn Petersen, a dedicated researcher and passionate academic, is deeply committed to nurturing the next generation of leaders. Her primary focus revolves around fostering academic excellence and cultivating future IT entrepreneurs and employers.

Dr Petersen’s core strengths lie in her forward-thinking approach and adept utilisation of technology to address societal challenges. She champions human-centred design, engaging users in collaborative design processes for IT solutions. Her unwavering dedication to creating inclusive environments ensures user buy-in and solution quality, empowering users to take ownership and sustain these IT solutions.

Her bottom-up methodology enables her to identify genuine user needs and harness existing knowledge within students and communities to co-create solutions. Driven by a desire to support marginalised students and historically disadvantaged communities in taking ownership, she consistently drives improved outcomes.

Through the human-centred design process, students and communities not only develop critical skills but also uncover potential opportunities. Dr Petersen maintains an interactive feedback cycle to uphold quality and standards. Her efforts to empower others can lead to enhanced economic empowerment and a stronger commitment to uplifting South Africa.

Her unconventional thinking, coupled with human-centred design principles, elicits positive responses from those she engages with, inspiring motivation and engagement. Dr Petersen’s own growth path includes coaching, mentoring, and paying it forward to enable students and communities to work collaboratively toward realising their potential. By sharing knowledge, they collectively become agents of positive change in a world that yearns for transformation.