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Eugene van der Merwe

I fell in love with computers at an early age when I discovered the joy of programming and the ability to be creative using a machine. My first computer was the ZX-81 which had 1 kilobyte of memory, I progressed to a Commodore 64 and taught myself BASIC, Assembly Language (6502), Pascal, and Logo. I did some freelance programming after school which was followed by studying computer engineering in Cupertino, California.

My first real IT job was in networking during the heyday of Novell NetWare 3.x. I thoroughly enjoyed becoming a network specialist but also branched out to implement email, database, and internet solutions. At the peak of my networking career I spend 2 years in the United Kingdom doing system migrations and project management.

The bulk of my career is the 17 years that I had my own business called Snowball, which is a hosting and internet service provider. I built the business from scratch, using no capital, to eventually service 1000s of customers. Working at an ISP is high pace and high pressure and I learnt a lot about business. I was also the technical specialist in charge and put together all the systems, including doing the programming for systems automation.

In January 2015 I sold the Snowball to Hero Telecoms where I am currently employed as a senior product manager. My job entails product research, pricing, digital strategy, and group communications. Hero Telecoms aims to list in the next two years and I find it fascinating to be part of a much larger picture compared to when I had my own firm.