You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Always be brave enough to ask — the worst that can happen is you receive a “no”.

Adopting this mentality has helped me motivate myself and energise teams to deliver excellence and delight customers in different sectors with data and AI solutions.


Technology & Innovation


Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

Avashlin Moodley, 32, who holds an MIT Big Data Science degree (cum laude) from the University of Pretoria, is a principal artificial intelligence specialist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). “My main focus at the CSIR is providing technical leadership to the Artificial Intelligence and Extended Reality Research Group.

This allows me to engage with some brilliant young people who I can develop and grow while being creative and building innovative solutions that leverage data and AI techniques,” he says. Avi’s passion for growing people has seen him mentor numerous specialists in his field.

He has spent the past decade leading projects and building solutions across various sectors including gaming; research and development; mining and telecommunications. He is an organiser of the Deep Learning IndabaX South Africa event which aims to grow machine learning and AI skills in South Africa.

Avashlin has built multidisciplinary teams to tackle challenging problems and deliver solutions in complex environments in organisations such as the CSIR, Anglo American and Vodacom. In 2021, his team won the Vodacom CEO Award for the TOBi Chatbot and he was placed third in the Vodacom Group Hackathon Vodapay Challenge. He was the product owner responsible for releasing a Vodacom-first Zulu chatbot.

  • BSc, Computer Science and IT, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • BSc Honours, Computing, University of South Africa
  • Master of Information Technology: Big Data Science (cum laude), University of Pretoria

  • Vodacom CEO Award 2021: Best Team, TOBi Chatbot
  •  Vodacom Group Hackathon 2021 Vodapay Challenge Winner (third overall)
  • One of the youngest principal researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research 
  • MIT degree (cum laude)
  • Product owner responsible for releasing a Vodacom-first Zulu chatbot

My mum used to tell me that I could do anything I applied my mind to and that has always been central to my self-confidence and perseverance in taking on challenging projects and problems.

Take a moment to stop and experience the present; time goes by fast.

I would like for our government to be a meritocracy where the leaders of the country are national experts in their respective fields. I would like to see South Africa pivot into embracing green energy and 4IR technologies to catapult the country from surviving to thriving.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

Subcribe to the newsletter