The Powerhouse Behind Dube TradePort’s World-Class ICT and Telecommunications Service
13 September 2019
Breaking gender norms and excelling in a traditionally male-dominated environment is something that Brynn Gerson has been doing since high school. In the late 1980s, a bright-eyed Brynn surprised her teachers when she insisted on challenging herself within the academic stream of advanced mathematics and computer studies, while most of her fellow female students were being encouraged to excel at typing and were pursuing more conventional career paths.
Fuelled by her mom’s sage advice to “never accept a ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have the authority to give you a ‘yes’,” Gerson has emerged as a resilient and inspirational leader, whose remarkable professional journey through the male-dominated ranks of computer technology and ICT infrastructure had long prepared her for her major role as a Senior Manager at Dube TradePort, Heading up Dube iConnect - a position she has held since 2014. Before joining the management team at Dube TradePort, Gerson traversed a prolific career with portfolios spanning the full spectrum of Admin Management, Technical Management, Account Management, Sales Management and Business Unit Management in a number of sectors within the IT industry. Her solid financial and target-driven background, vast technical and sales skills and over 25 years of building key relationships in the IT industry, coupled with her impressive experience in starting up, managing and growing sophisticated, integrated IT solutions business units have all been a critical experience to the tremendous charge she now leads.
Located at Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone, Dube iConnect is a world-class, state-of-the-art, voice and broadband ICT infrastructure and telecommunications facility. A fully licenced ICASA service provider, Dube iConnect is also one of KwaZulu-Natal’s premier locally-hosted cloud service providers. It boasts two Tier 3 compliant Data Centres located within the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone’s “National Key Point” precinct, connected via fully reticulated fibre cabling and incorporating industry leading blade architecture and storage. Dube iConnect clients include enterprises located within the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone precinct, as well as outlying public and private sector clients who are serviced through the Dube iConnect Reseller Programme.
In 2018/2019, Dube iConnect reported revenue exceeding R10 million, representing a whopping 350% growth in revenue since Gerson took over the reins in 2014. A feat she explains, as being a result of an immediate and ongoing focus on reviewing systems and processes to prudently rationalise costs, whilst simultaneously improving efficiencies and achieving economies of scale, across all operations within her business unit. She also credits Dube iConnect’s success to her dedicated and hardworking team at Dube iConnect, who she says work together as a supportive family, collectively finding solutions to every challenge they or their clients are confronted with.
Gerson’s astute ability to produce results while making and saving money may well be attributed to her childhood and being raised by industrious parents who worked hard to put their three children through school and put food on the table. She recalls working alongside her mom at local flea markets, selling homemade clothing which she herself had helped her mom sew. At the tender age of 13, she independently ran one of her mom’s flea market stalls at the Durban beachfront, freeing her mom up to run another one in the city centre. She juggled this weekend job with school and holiday jobs for a family friend’s events catering company, packing popcorn, selling chips and chocolates at a concession stall at major events around the country. By age 16, she was working the tills at a major retail store in Montclair on the South of Durban, the modest suburb where she grew up and later matriculated in 1991.
It might have been her mom’s own background as a ‘’bra-burning’’ female activist in the UK during the Women’s Rights Movement of the 1960s that prepared Brynn for her first brush with gender bias in the workplace. She vividly recalls how she was casually told by her then-manager that she would not be considered for promotion to a supervisory position in the merchandising division of a retail store because her male colleagues in the warehouse were unlikely to cooperate with her or to respect her simply because she was a woman. She was subsequently passed up for that position which was awarded to her male colleague. “I remember staying late at night to help him pack the shelves, despite me not getting that promotion, just because they told me that I couldn’t,” Gerson smirks. She speaks candidly of her mom’s influence on her to pursue her passions regardless of society’s expectations and clearly refuses for her contribution or commitment to her work to be constrained in any way.
A self-proclaimed “nerd”, Brynn is an active member of the KZN Women in Tech Forum and is also intrigued by a wide variety of interests beyond the world of IT. She considers herself a perpetual student of the world around her. “I become bored easily and so I am constantly challenging myself to learn new things. For instance, I have been fascinated by traditions of Geishas in Japanese culture and I am curious about the philosophies of various religions”, she comments. For fun, she attends the odd music festival with her husband but she also enjoys cooking and spending time at home with three of their four children, the eldest of whom is studying abroad.
Amongst the things that Brynn lists as some of the most rewarding parts of her current job as the head of Dube iConnect, is the work being done through her business unit, to upskill and capacitate local SMME’s to participate more meaningfully and gainfully in the ICT sector. Dube iConnect offers ongoing training and support to small and micro-enterprises within their Reseller Programme. The micro-enterprise development support includes regular, free vendor product training and occasionally extends to direct support to prepare enterprises to bid on major ICT tenders. Last year, such direct support resulted in a consortium of micro-enterprises that operates within the Dube iConnect Reseller Programme winning a tender to roll-out broadband as part of the SA Connect initiative.
“With a number of exciting new projects in the pipeline, like Dube TradeZone 2 which is currently in development and the imminent launch of the 50-year master plan for the Durban Aerotropolis, Dube iConnect is certainly going to be very busy. Let’s just say that it is unlikely I will get bored anytime soon,” Gerson concludes.