Technology & Innovation
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
At the age of 34, Zubeida Dawood is an experienced cyber-security specialist and research group leader at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Information and Cyber-security Centre.
Zubeida, who holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of Cape Town, does cutting-edge research while managing a team of about 15 people. She wants to address the cyber-skills shortage to boost the economy and to transform the lives of disadvantaged South Africans. Zubeida leads the cyber-security Learning Factory project, which aims to equip students with skills to get them “workforce ready”.
This project is specifically targeted at developing the youth and unskilled individuals. Zubeida mentors and coaches several interns, work-integrated learning trainees and full-time employees. She lectures computer science to post-graduate students at the Tshwane University of Technology on a part-time basis and has written for more than 25 peer-reviewed publications.
“If we want to get to the next level and achieve things we need to be okay with being uncomfortable and with not knowing all the answers. I told myself this throughout the duration of my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. I am still eager to tackle the unknown and excited about what the future holds,” she says.
- PhD Computer Science (University of Cape Town)
- MSc Computer Science (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
- BSc Hons Computer Science (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
- BSc Computer Science (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
- Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Emerging Leader Award 2022
- CSIR Masters Excellence Awards 2014
- IOS Press Prize 2013 for the paper in the 10th anniversary special issue of Applied Ontology
A childhood memory is that my father, the sole breadwinner and father of four girls, struggled and saved up money to buy the family a brand-new computer in 1996. I recall that he paid R8 000 cash for this computer, which was quite excessive for us as a family, but he is the type of man to invest in the education and upliftment of his children. I have vivid memories of my sisters and I fighting over the use of this computer and this was perhaps the starting point of my interest in technology and computer science as a career path.
Believe in yourself and trust the process. You can’t have the answer for everything. Embrace and enjoy the journey ahead. Have trust in God Almighty and your hard work.
I would love to contribute to South Africa being a more secure nation in terms of cyber-security. I am contributing towards tackling the cyber-security skills shortage problem towards this and I am also positioned to contribute to South African laws and initiatives. I believe this will enable South Africa to be in a better economic position.