22nd February 2024 1:03 pm
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South Africa’s first-ever Excel Champ is..

Congratulations to Corné van Heerden, South Africa’s first-ever Excel Champion!

The weeks-long race to be South Africa’s Excel Champ wrapped up in Johannesburg on Friday as the finalists faced off against one another in an epic chase to some epic loot.

Kicking off the finals event, held at Microsoft’ South Africa’s headquarters in Bryanston, Johannesburg, runners-up Shane Hutchinson and Jacques Wentzel went head-to-head in a 10-question Excel quiz, which Shane won by just one point. Shane’s victory allowed him to join the other four Excel finalists – Corné van Heerden, Philip Axt, Gabriel Wolmarans and Richard Ball – who were then given the final Excel problems to solve in a live, timed test of their skills.

Each contestant had the chance to solve the new spreadsheet while being watched by a live studio audience. The five took an average of around 15 minutes each to solve the new challenges, but while speed was a factor in determining the overall winner, it was not the most important one.

Mark Dorfling, product marketing manager at Microsoft South Africa, told the assembled audience that ultimately the accuracy of the overall solution is most important, followed closely by its elegance and finally by its speed. Should two contestants reach the right answers in around the same time, the ultimate winner would then be determined by how neatly the challenge was met.

The fastest competitor was Richard Ball, the Wild Card entrant, who completed his spreadsheet in 12 and a half minutes. He joined the event via Skype for Business from his company’s Cape Town offices.

Ultimately, though, it was Corné van Heerden who did the best job of solving the problems posed according to a panel of judges, which included our very own Adam Oxford.

Corné walked away with a brand new Dell Latitude E7470 notebook, an Office 365 subscription, a Lumia 1320 smartphone, a Jabra headset and a Microsoft mouse. Van Heerden’s background as a Microsoft trainer and developer clearly came in handy when it came to solving the challenges posed by the contest.

On receiving the award for his victory, a clearly emotional van Heerden said “I am at a loss for words, I’m so overwhelmed!”, but later added “Thanks to Microsoft for running the competition, it was an honour to compete and I’m very happy with the win!”.

Microsoft plans to make the Excel Champs an annual event, as it does a great job of putting the spotlight on its Office software and provides an opportunity to showcase the productivity suite’s lesser-known features.

Well done to all involved, and we look forward to seeing what next year’s competition will bring!