The IBM programmer who became Microsoft South Africa MD

Zoaib Hoosen has made a few great choices in his life, which ultimately lead to him being appointed as Microsoft SA Managing Director in 2014.

His path to lead a technology company started as a student, when his affinity for mathematics and science informed him to enroll for a B.Sc. degree.

Although Hoosen initially planned to become a dentist, he switched to computer science in his second year.

“At the time, computers were not common and computer science was a very new degree – I think the rebel inside me was drawn to that,” he said.

During his studies he declined a job offer at a textile company, where they indicated that he would work for free for the first six months because he had no experience.

The decision to rather continue his studies, which ultimately led to his first job as an intern and programmer at IBM where he earned R2,200 per month, put him on a great career path.

Hoosen said reaching the top in the IT field involved some luck, but also a lot of hard work and dedication.

“In this industry you come across so many very clever people, so I tended to live by a motto that while I may not be the brightest person in the room, I would be the hardest working – this has always worked well for me,” said Hoosen.

“Fortunately, I always found purpose and passion in what I was doing, so the long hours never felt like work.”

He said he was exceptionally lucky to have inspiring and impactful mentors in his life, who influenced his career at different points.

A great time to be in the tech industry

Hoosen said it is a good time to be in the tech industry, where the speed of innovation and constant learning about emerging technologies makes it exciting.

“I am also inspired and invigorated by how emerging technology can, and is, being used to make a real impact on overcoming socio-economic challenges,” he said.

“Working for a company like Microsoft, who is a significant player and really striving for a higher purpose, is a huge privilege and that provides great satisfaction for me.”

Hoosen’s tech and business choices

MyBroadband asked Hoosen about his tech and business choices.


Which smartphone do you use?

Apple iPhone which runs the MS productivity tools.

Which laptop do you use?

Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 370 – with integrate pen and ink (I love the pen).

What is the best gadget you have ever bought?

Portable Bose speakers.

What is the worst gadget you have ever bought?

External hard drive – and then the Cloud happened.

What Internet connection (fixed broadband) do you have at home?


What is the best investment you have ever made?

My education.

What is the worst investment you have ever made?

From a time perspective, I would have to say getting hooked on series like CSI.

What is the best business book you have read?

Clayton Christensen’s How will you measure your life.

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The IBM programmer who became Microsoft South Africa MD