Terryanne du Toit tells us how her childhood interest in computers grew into a successful IT career, and why stepping out of your comfort zone is important for personal growth.
“I was one of the few girls who showed up. I was the only girl with a computer. And I spent more time sorting out the switches and LAN cables than I did gaming,” chuckles Terryanne du Toit as she recounts a weekend tradition from her high school years: network gaming with her classmates. Back then, while her friends were honing their keyboard skills as virtual soldiers and rally drivers, BUI’s resident Tech Talk presenter and infrastructure consultant was already thinking about a career in IT.
“From a young age, I was fascinated by broken things,” explains Terryanne. “I think it came from watching my dad work on cars. As a mechanic, he’d spend hours taking apart all kinds of machinery. He’d find the problem, fix it, and put everything back in its place. I was about eight years old when our home PC stopped working, and I was determined to dismantle it and find the issue. I remember turning the PC on its side, watching the CD-ROM fall out, and looking to my dad for help. I think he could see that I was genuinely interested in computers, and from that day onward, he encouraged me to learn as much as possible.”
But learning presented its own challenges, even at the dawn of the new millennium. Terryanne was living in the Northern Cape at the time, and studying on her own to achieve the IT certifications that would open doors for her. “I managed to find all the books I needed to study, but the closest exam centre was in the North West, and that meant a very long bus trip to Potchefstroom every time. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.”
A learning journey
Terryanne started with CompTIA’s A+ Certification, which gave her a solid grounding in hardware and software support and administration. She then completed all the Microsoft Office exams, and later became a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert in core infrastructure. “I’m still learning,” she reveals. “It comes with the territory when you work in IT because technology is always changing, but I also believe in taking every opportunity that comes my way.”
Terryanne relished the chance to share her knowledge with the Welkom community, live on Gold FM 104.3, even though she’d never been a radio presenter before. “I live and work in the heart of the goldfields region, and I like to talk to people, especially about technology,” she says. “The Tech Talk show has been a great platform for creating public awareness, about everything from password security to artificial intelligence. I’m grateful for the support from BUI, and I hope that listeners walk away with a few ideas to help them work smarter.”
Would Terryanne consider a career behind the microphone? She laughs. “I was so nervous during the first few shows,” she recalls. “I would shake so much that I couldn’t even hold my notes! It got better as I became more comfortable on air, and the feedback has been amazing! My family and my friends and colleagues have been behind me from the beginning. I took a big step outside of my comfort zone and it opened up a whole new world for me, but I’m not ready to leave IT behind: I enjoy the buzz too much.”
A chance to make a difference
The buzz, as it turns out, is literal and figurative. “I love the hum of happy machines,” says Terryanne, sharing a personal quirk. “And I’m excited to be involved in the technology industry at a time when women are challenging traditions and challenging themselves. When I was growing up, certain jobs were considered unsuitable for women, and IT was still very much ‘something that guys did’. But I never let that stop me. I had the support and encouragement of my parents, and I worked hard to gain the skills and experience I have now.”
Are attitudes changing? “I think so,” ventures Terryanne. “Slowly, but surely… One of my first jobs was as a technician at a computer repair store, and I remember one client who refused to explain his PC problem to me. He said he didn’t think I could help him, and that he wanted to speak to a man instead. That was tough to hear,” she recalls. “But when people don’t know you, or what you’re capable of, I think it’s easy for them to make assumptions. I do my best to surprise them.”
As the infrastructure consultant in our Free State hub, Terryanne is the link between the wider BUI team and customers in Welkom, Bloemfontein, and other parts of the province. “My role involves organisational and technical responsibilities, as well as liaison work and mentorship within my group of local colleagues, but every day is different,” notes Terryanne. “Every day brings new projects, new deadlines, and new challenges. It can be chaotic and stressful one minute, and quiet the next, but it’s always interesting. And I like being able to help people. I like being able to make a difference for them, with the right tools and technology,” she concludes.