Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for tuning into this week's episode. My name is Alice Kanjejo, your host for this lovely space that we hold for the tech community, or even those who are not in the tech space, but holding a space for meaningful conversations that need need to be had.

So today, as you can see, we are joined by another lovely lady who is also a powerhouse in her own field. I would say I'm very excited to read this intro because just as we're having a slight conversation before the episode started, I was already feeling inspired. I was really feeling like this is a guest worth having, for sure.

So today we are joined by the lovely Naomi Mwangi. And I am just about to read her intro, which is one of my favorite parts of this podcast. So Naomi is currently a software engineer working at Safaricom, which, as you may or may not know, but you definitely know, is one of the biggest tech companies in Kenya and arguably in Africa or even the world, in my opinion.

And she works at Safaricom to help build API solutions for various companies, including the government. Naomi has also worked with multiple developers to integrate payment APIs into their systems and has also taken part in various developer community engagements by presenting in Compass outreach programs. Naomi is also very passionate about DevOps and has built various automations to help ease the work for various developers and improve back end systems, ensuring an uptime of 99.99%,

you can say 100 humble flex. And in addition to this, she has also been privileged to be part of various amazing hackathons, such as the Microsoft game of Learners Cohort One. Wow, that was the initial one.

I'm assuming you'll tell us a bit more about that, where she delivered, or rather they delivered, a health solution and also an IBM kiskit hackathon where they developed into the world of quantum computing. Now, as you can tell, this is a head full of knowledge, a very intense tech oriented person, a tech oriented career. And thank you so much for gracing the podcast.

Welcome to the My Tech story platform. Naomi. Thank you very much.

First of all, already told you, I think it's a wonderful initiative and keep on doing what you're doing and bringing people's voices to such platforms. Thank you so much for the kind words. She's been so nice to me ever since I've reached out to her.

She was already very excited, which is very encouraging to me, by the way. Sorry to cut you short, Naomi, but this is also a prompt for you guys to subscribe from wherever you're listening from, okay? The podcast listening platform, spotify anchor I mean, Anchor and Apple podcasts, YouTube, everyone. It helps us get the message out there, get these wonderful messages that we get from our guests out to the world so that we're able to provide solutions that can ultimately help build the African economy, if you think about that in large scale, but moving on swiftly back to Naomi.

Yes. So first from that, how do you feel about writing that intro? Empowering. Empowering.

I feel the more you write about your story, the more you catch yourself off guard. And like, I did all this, I went through all these. Yes.

Sometimes you don't know your accomplishments till maybe you see them on like a white piece of paper or someone comes and tells you. So it felt very nice. And knowing that I'm coming here to talk about my journey and probably what I've gone through even made me more excited.

Yes, I love to hear that, because that's why I said at the beginning of this episode that one of the things I was saying is this is my favorite part of one of my favorite parts of the podcast. Is getting to read out my guests accomplishments in front of them and also getting them to actually write them down so that they can see and take a step back to know that they are basically the shit. It's more of contemplating, like, reflection.

Yeah, it's a moment of reflection and realizing that, wow, you're so caught up in everyday life and what you need to improve and who you need to become. And then more often than not, you forget to take a step back and be like, okay, a year ago I probably wanted the life where I am today. So, yes, very excited to have you here with us.

First of all, how was your experience in being the first Cohort for the Microsoft Game of Learners hackathon program? To be frank, I didn't even know what it was because as I said, it was a fast cohort. So they just put out advertisements saying that this is hackathon, it's a Microsoft thing. That time I was still in campus, I was in my fourth year and every opportunity was looking juicy, so I was applying to everything left, right and center.

And this was the time for COVID too. So it was the time, it was home. So even when I got the letter, it was apparently I mean, when I got the letter.

Now tell me that you've been selected to be part of the Microsoft Game of Learners. I saw it's actually a big thing because the extent they went to make us comfortable because like I mentioned, it was during the time of COVID was locked down and they want guys to participate in this hackathon. So they made us as comfortable as possible.

So they gave us Internet connectivity. They gave us a solar panel, an individual panel, so that if lights go off because they're working from home, they don't have control over that. You still have connectivity and you're able to build and stuff like that.

And that's when I was like, this is a big thing. First of all, even getting into the cohort must have been when I got him, that they say things like 200 students applied, that you only picked 20 of you. And that's what they're like.

Yes. That is when you start even realizing I am doing way better than I thought exactly. As a campus student.

Sorry. So the journey was, like I mentioned, it was building a health solution. So given that this was a point of COVID they were exploring telehealth.

And so the main thing was you use Microsoft products that's the Microsoft cloud products and Microsoft tools to come up with a health solution. And this is only running for a month. And as you're doing this, they're giving you all these licenses, all the successes, and they're giving you mentors.

Yeah, that seems like a very hands on experience. It was wonderful. It was amazing.

Wow. So this is a message for you guys who want to participate in hackathons, that this might be just the one to apply for the way it's sounding like. But I think just with regards to this conversation, I want us to go back to the beginning.

So where would you say your interest in tech started and when did you start to realize that this is an industry that I think I need to be in? And just when did your tech story begin? Basically? So my tech story began by watching and I was watching my father because my father was in the tech space. Okay. So I used to really want to be like my father and I'd always question what he was doing because he's there with his laptop.

He used to extend this to us by sharing us, like maybe some PowerPoints he had for work or something. And whenever you'd ask him anything, he'd tell you the details. So that's where my interest started.

So this led me to even taking things like computers as the main thing I was doing in high school, know how high school specialized. And then my interest deepened, I think when I was in form three and my dad worked in the banking space and they had a hackathon with Moringa to build, I think it was a financial product for the bank. And my dad just carried me to the event.

So in the event, how old are you at this time? Sorry? 1616. Okay. So in the event it was developers, I think just random developers in groups.

And then we were all given merchandise. Just cool, just some black t shirts, all the graphics. And then of course, the peak of any tech event is a free food.

So those like that's the peak. It's not even the program. I don't know anything about coding.

True. So at this time you were not a CUDA yet? No, I didn't even know the computer we did in high school there was nothing like coding the computer in high school. There was nothing like coding.

Exactly. Let's start from the Kenyan system. The computer in school versus the reality you didn't know the world beyond there.

So I'm hearing people in Cohorts, so I also had a cousin who was also in the tech space, so he was a participant. And I sat with the group, and I was just watching what they're doing. After that, I was just like, dad, me.

After campus, I don't even want to go to university, want to go to Moringa so I can do coding and then build things. Because everyone was looking cool, everyone was serious. That's when I interacted.

The team had two ladies. Out of the team was like, five. But of course, in the room it was just guys, and the ladies were also looking quite cool.

You don't even know what it is. It just looks cool. Everything.

And then they've built a product that works, and they're presenting it's like, wow. So that was like, my main thing, though, after campus. You know how you pick courses? I didn't pick computer science as my first choice.

What did you pick as your first choice? Architecture. Architecture. I was good in physics, and I could draw, so I was like, wow, let me pick that as a fast choice.

And I think I had also gotten a bit discouraged because when you say I think when I said back then, when I said I want to do computer science stuff from my family, though, from like, you know how people in school, what are you doing? I think you know how people come and tell you like, oh, I don't think that's a really good course. You know me. My mom told me they got into your head, and I took it to the bottom of the list.

Wow. But now the result came out. I was not picked for architecture.

I was picked for God knows what where. And that's when I decided to go do computer science in Strathmore. And the more I did it, the more I realized that this is my space, this is where I thrive.

I know I'm getting to learn about, let me say, my dev journey. Seriously. Seriously started in second year when we had this lecturer who were still very good friends and probably the reason I am here.

Wow. And this lecturer was not very much liked by people because it's this lecturer who come. So have you heard what happened the weekend in Microsoft? These big questions, and you want to get a first class, and you don't know this.

People are not into a pressure. But that pressure used to make me Saturdays when I'm going home, I'm somewhere seated. I've subscribed to all these blog posts.

I've downloaded all these apps, and I'm reading about what's happening in the tech space. I'm trying to build things from blogs I'm seeing, and that's what now just put me properly in a very good position. Okay, that's very interesting.

You've given us a lot of insight into where it started. You're going for the hackathon that you didn't know how to code. But seeing this is where the inspo this is maybe where I want to be.

Then of course, the dissonance of now interacting with your classmates and telling me, I think your story is almost very similar to mine, which is I also thought that architecture was going to be my life. Okay, come rain, come sunshine, it needs to be architecture or design or something. And then here we are.

Long story short, for more info about my tech story, listen to the first episode of this podcast. But yes, that's very interesting. I like hearing stories of people, which is quite frankly, very more often than you would think of people think that dissonance of should I do this? Should I not changing their minds of not doing this at all.

And then coming back years later and being like, okay, this was the one. This was the one. You go ask people for advice.

Everyone is telling you everything. At the end of all this, your your head head is filled up with so many things, eventually you'll probably pick yourself and be like, okay, let's end up doing this. But that's very interesting.

So actually, when I heard about you, it was from someone who's also been one of our guests, Gabriel, and he just mentioned how you also applied at the same time with him for now, the program for Safaricom. And I think that's now where tell us about now the journey of beyond just picking computer science in Uni and then going for the hackathon program, especially the one for Microsoft. How did Now Safaricom get into the picture? Okay, so my journey actually started in third year.

That's when I got my first hands on experience. Probably like a job job now where I worked for the university. There was like an organization in the university which builds products for other institutions.

So that was the first gig and it was more of a web development job where I dealt still with back end systems. And that's where I also got very good mentorship. My mentors were lecturers, however, but they really did well.

And they're the ones who gave me the opportunity of the first hackathon, which was IBM Kiskit, which happened in South Africa. Wow. And going for that one, let me tell you.

Have you ever gone for an event, you do not know even what they are doing, how you hear quantum in movies and just like big thing. It even sounds like physics, but it's actually a whole IBM scene. With Library, we were very clueless, but they gave us time to learn.

And I remember the team I was working on was trying to find ways to predict, I think is it like malaria based on mosquito regions and something, but still using quantum mechanisms. I was quite aloof, let me not lie. But it was big things.

People are doing big things out there. But it was beautiful. One, we went as a team of just four, plus the two lecturers.

Wow. So that was my first hackathon. But now after I came back, that's when I went for my first internship in Safaricom as an API.

Now this team, I mean, but now I was an intern there for three months. And then when that period ended was when COVID just hit. And I was starting my fourth year then.

So I think it was also a bit delayed. There was a whole lot of confusion and that's when me and Gabriel took to know this. Solving things through lit code.

I don't know what the goal was. I don't think we had a goal. But that's how we challenge ourselves.

We say we're solving one problem every day and we meet and we try and figure out and see how's the solution looking. What have you used? So this time we're using Python and we're trying to just find shortcuts. And we didn't know the journey that doing these algorithms was putting us on.

So during this time was when now the opportunity for Microsoft came about. So COVID started in March as I was ending my opportunity in Safaricom. School started in April and then June was when now the Microsoft opportunity came.

Where my role basically in that part was I was building the mobile application for the telehealth solution and all this. I'm still in school, let me not forget it's. That one.

It's school from home. You can't do all this. One thing about COVID is gave opportunities.

Okay? I'm not saying COVID was a good thing in no way, shape or form. But I felt like if you are one of the people who looked at it as an opportunity for you to venture into even more things because you're not on campus every single day, you probably have space for this hackathon here and there or now get into the other things. And I always applaud people who in uni in campus, they are not just very hyper focused on just school.

You start to realize that when you finish uni, there's no system as the way there used to be. So you need to be prepared for that post uni era. And actually that was the goal.

And given that we were always talking because we even had a discord channel to do these things, that's the time that I feel like we mostly grew our skills personally, individually. So around June of that year was when now the Microsoft opportunity came. And this was for a whole month.

I was working with another classmate of mine called Isaac. So Isaac we worked with in HP lab. That's when I was working for Mean, for school.

That's my third year, that whole year internship. So he's the same person he got this opportunity with. So it was still kind of like a synergy where given that we still have school ongoing and we have this thing that we deliver by the end of the month when the same team it was more of coordinating.

So we meet this time to this time. We're doing assignments, this time to this time we attend class. But given that it's online, it's not a good thing.

But we can also be meeting on the side and trying to build this. So the whole Microsoft experience ended. We were second.

We were like, the best entertainers. Yeah. We did a lot of videos, and our team was told, we are the best at it.

So this one ended, and immediately after was when the Safaricom opportunity came about. One door closes. The number one.

Let me backstep. There's a point I mentioned at this point in 2020, you were applying to everything. So Safaricom put out the post, and then this post is three years of experience.

You must have graduated. And then it's a DevOps role. It's a contractor DevOps role.

And they're mentioning all these tools. But us, we're just like, we just saw Python. We've been doing all these coding things.

Python, we are good. Let's apply. Let's do it.

The courage that we had back then was literally what got us to where we are right now. Actually. You need to just be audacious and just do it.

And having that community of people who are very true, who also drive you to do the same thing. Like, if you're individual, you have to really make that individual decision. But positive peer pressure to be a better version of yourself and do those hackathons, do those applying and just be confident to apply anyway.

Took you to places that I think has helped you, that kind of mindset has also helped you deal today. But yes, keep going with yeah. So this was August, where now we got accepted.

The interview process, I don't know if I should talk about, because the interview process is we've been doing questions all along. These are the same questions I bring in the interview. So it's like, it's easy.

You know, this is light work for you guys. Yeah. So even when you were explaining, because this last session where you're talking one on one, we had very good mastery and were very much impressed.

So even when we were saying, we're still not graduated, but we're looking to graduate at this time, this time they're like, It's okay as long as you just graduate. You can give us a certificate when that time comes. Wow.

Yeah. So that's when now we got into Safari Farm. It was a full time opportunity.

And I'm also a full time student. A full time student. But it worked.

First of all. Yes. Let's get more into that.

How was this process of you balancing school work, probably a personal life, even, would you say one you gave at that period of time, you gave your everything to coding and development. Okay. And barely had time for yourself? Because if you're saying on the weekends, you're busy reading articles, trying how to learn how to code.

What was that balance like? And what would you say kept you going? And how it became integrated to your day to day life, to where you are today? Okay, so at this time, when all this is happening, I don't know, somehow I know COVID had a lot, but I think we really maximized you are not missing out on social life because no one is going anywhere. No one is going anywhere. It's locked down.

No pressure at all. At all. And then all my friends are on the same level where the whole day we are on a call.

It got to a point even my parents knew Akina, Gabriel, because I'm always calling out their names in the call. So we were in a 24/7 call where you just go unmute and you're talking to them. You really have to dedicate.

Yeah, it's very possible for that time. Wow. Yeah.

There was no pressure. There was nothing. So I was able to relax because we'd wake up at six.

We would wake up. You even had a program. Yeah.

The good thing is that me and Gabriel are in the same department, delivering the same solutions, working together. Okay, so we wake up at six, six to 830. We are seriously doing schoolwork and doing assignments.

And that's the time. We're also doing our final school project. Wow.

The thesis that you have to write and everything. Yes. So, 830, that's when our meetings used to start, if I'm not wrong.

And classes start at nine. So it got to a point where you're in two meetings concurrently. Wow.

Yeah. So define that scenario of you having two minutes. But class was recorded and they share resources.

We don't have part time computer science because I did computer science. We don't have part time computer science, but Bbit was part time. So it's more of like saying if Bbit could be part time.

See, I can also make this part time. Yeah, you just look back at the recording. So it's just muting.

You don't have to camera. You'll just watch the recordings at the end of the day and then you have time to work. That sounds so relatable to me, because I would do the same thing.

I already had my job and it was remote as well. But I'm still in campus. We didn't have part time in communications as well, which is the degree I pursued.

Still in the same university as you. And so the problem was me. I wasn't looking back.

If it's gone, it's gone. It is what it is. I'll read, but there are very many moments I can remember.

I'm having my corporate meeting and then at the same time this class. So I just mute it and then I put it on the side and then keep up with my corporate meeting or sometimes vice versa. So those are the strategies for balance honestly, I think COVID really helped us learn how to balance.

And I think that era, honestly, was a moment for you to take advantage of if you really could have. True. Yes.

So thank God we used that period the way we used it, because now the opportunity we got was a contractor role, which was a one year role. And I'm joining August. So I have till August the next year.

Yes. So I remember, I think the only time I took a break from work was January, because January now I had exams and there was no way I could do exams and also deliver at work. But I had the best manager that was also someone because I think it wouldn't have worked if we didn't have the manager who we had, because we were able to tell him, oh, I have a cut.

So from this time to this time, I won't be available, but once I'm done, I'll come. And that really gave us a very good rapport. And he also really encouraged us to deliver very well because I believe what me and Gabriel did was amazing for the company, for the department we're working with, because we managed to shorten a process that they used to do daily, that used to take about a whole hour to about a, you know, this process.

Someone used to wake up and run this process and we try to finish and then send every day the person on duty. So now this was even given to us. So we'd literally still just be reading and that process is running.

Wow. I love that energy that you guys had. And also what's important when it comes to note balancing is having what you really hope for.

Ideal scenario is someone who's understanding a manager or someone who takes up the role as a mentor per se, rather than someone who is a person of authority, who they are, but very authoritative, very like, you have this figure out your way around it. I think having someone who understands also helps you double your productivity, honestly. But you also need to create that leverage.

You know, you've already built this system and then you're asking for time off. It makes sense. So I'm very happy to hear that.

And given that we were also communicating with him, we were very open with him. That also gave him comfort. Comfort to know that he continued working there, graduated in September.

He even came for my graduation. Yeah. But now, I think it was now during this time that now afterwards, I transitioned into a different role within the company.

When I went back to my API role, this was around June there. COVID Lockdown is still happening. I remember Lockdown was still at seven.

So social life, it's not that much. So you're good, but school is done. You're good, school is done.

Yeah. So this department, I already knew people because I had been an intern there and she was more of just being back there. And remember, the previous role I had was a contractor role.

So it was coming to an end. So I was lucky to change before it ended. So now I got a permanent role.

Wow. Yeah. And that's been till today.

So now, like I mentioned, I was working when things were locked. Locked? Locked. Yes.

So lockdown was withdrawn. Levizuri October. I remember because that's when our coffee was removed in 2021.

Can you imagine? You lived in an era like that? It's still hard to believe it at 07:00 p.m.. Even seven home streets. So another time, they pushed it a bit, too.

They pushed it, I think. But it was so much pressure, because if it's Saturday and you're meeting, like, friends, you have to wrap up and you have to run back by six form in. Maisha, you're back.

I remember a week after my birthday, which was kind of a bummer. And now things went back to normal. And this time, in my current team, we were like a team of ten people.

I was the only lady mind, even in the previous department, I was still the only lady I expected in the tech space. But sad reality. Yes.

I think I've been lucky enough. In the spaces that I work in, I've been absorbed properly. And you're given the same opportunities.

You're able to thrive. So this time, we're working a team of eight people. Nine now, including my manager.

So things are things are going well. Like, things are smooth. You're finding this work from home thing so cool.

You have so much time. Yeah, exactly. So we moved to like, mid 2022 because I think these other tech giants are also how developers it's so hard for them to stay in one position.

Yeah, they're always jump hopping. Yes, it's true. So I've just recently gotten this role I can't jump off.

And I'm curious to notice. I'm liking his face and stuff like that. So hey, the team went from eight to two recruited.

Yes. Let me mention my current round. Now, in the API team, it's only one API team that serves the whole of Safaricomia.

And how the team works is yes, I have a line manager, but I should thrive more as an individual contributor. So not all the tasks I'm getting are coming from a manager. You can just see what gap is, then you try fill it.

Yes. And my department is serving the entire tech space in Safaricom. And there are so many departments that want people to develop APIs for them, expose it for them.

So you'd have many people now come to you. It's more of now me telling my boss, oh, yeah, I have this, this, and this to do. So, mind you, the guys who left their teams, the teams that they were handling now came to you guys.

So hey, it got to a point it became intense. So now. People social life is back.

You're noticing you graduated in 2021, your friends after campus, everyone's going their own journey, but you're trying to keep those closed as much as possible. But now becomes difficult. It becomes difficult because you also have your own duties and you cannot run away from your duties.

Yes. So it got to a point, hey, I'm working at night. I'm working in the day.

Saturday, we don't even want to leave Sunday. Maybe you'll be cold. So it was intensity heavy on my back, and I'm just used to being there, so it took a bit of a toll on me.

I think I even had to go to therapy to learn how to I literally went to therapy, telling me I don't know how to work my time. Yeah, you felt like it was basically consuming. Yeah.

So before now we even got therapy, I wanted not to even escape because you know how you miss school because school has structure. School has a timetable. You wake up, eight, I'm supposed to be in class doing this, nine, doing this.

You know, you're working towards an exam. So everyone has a common goal. It's structure.

It's a lot of structure. So now when you're thrown here, you didn't have time to tarmac all in a straight, because it's a big tech and you're straight there, and people like people don't care. Yeah, they don't care.

Your age, you still get the same roles as someone who's been there 15 years. Good, bittersweet feeling, isn't it? And yeah, just to add on that, it's like you start also realize that, wait, this is real life and this is every day. Exactly.

And if I don't change it, then this is my everyday life. Exactly. And you don't want to lose a job.

You don't know how to properly handle these situations because they don't teach you these things in school. They try to, but those are the classes you don't pay attention. Those are the classes you mute the most, how to take care of your those are the things you can sleep three days, a whole week, you'll still catch up even if you're trying to do it.

But here, it's a bit different. It's what they see. It caught me off guard, and now I was trying to run away.

Now I wanted to go do masters. I wanted to go back to school. Last days, I was very comfortable and I thrived wonderfully.

I wanted to go back to that hole. So I was like, I got a first class, I can get a sponsorship. So, see, I look for a sponsorship in the UK.

That's a big achievement for a computer science degree. Okay, so now that was now what I wanted to hold on to and run away to the UK. So around this time was also the same time, because, yeah, I'm still looking, but work is still going in on me.

So around this time was also the time now that I decided to just let me because the privilege of also working in my company is that they give you such benefits where they've partnered with different institutions. So if you want to go talk to someone, you can go talk to someone. So I just picked the first therapist on the list.

Hey, and you know how you're expecting therapy to be at your phone, on the couch, lying? And this is what is soothing you. Let me tell you, this therapist used to give me the fact, as in, you know how I don't complain? I'm working at night. During the day, we only need to pull in department.

That time, my manager is calling me. I'm trying to also pick the call and anything, and my therapistator told me, so, Naomi, do you have a family? I was like, no. How old are you? I told him, my age.

Are you the one who's taking care of bills at home and stuff like that? I was like, no. His teacher told me, like, he and your jinga like that's just like, you're supposed to have this as if you're supposed to be on my side. And then he was like, in that same place or in that same company or just different places.

There are people who have this responsibility. I know. Well, I have my own problem.

I was like, can't you see these are problems, too? I was like, no, people have these responsibilities, this responsibilities, this thingy. And you're very rigid. I remember he used the word rigid, and he was like, you're choosing not to work with your time, and you're letting your time consume you.

So you're working with all these people. You're letting all these people manage you instead of you managing them because you have that power. So he told me how he wakes up at five and does this by the time you sit there and like, does this therapist jika man? I recommend.

But it was how? Like, so well, maybe that's what I needed to hear. If I met someone who suits me, I feel like I didn't because it gets to a point where you can't go to your parents because your parents are like, and you know how many people don't have jobs? Everyone is going to tell you the narrative. Exactly.

You are in safaricom. You need to be appreciated. Exactly.

Kind of diminishing your problem to some extent. You go to your friends, of course, friends. You tell them, I work at night.

They're like, you're working at night? Leave that company. You know how this generation is. It's not for you.

Just drop it. I was not getting that advice. So I feel like he came at the perfect time.

I needed to hear that hard truth. It was very tough. I was coming from those sessions and going home and just like and staying and I'm just like, what? Where? He was not sparing an inch, but that now made me take a step back, which was necessary for you.

So what does taking a step back mean? So this meant I had let you know how you're trying to please. Like I said, I come from school, and I'm always delivering this grade. Since primary, I've always delivered this.

I've always delivered. So now everyone is coming with their requests, and they want you to deliver, deliver. So of course, I'm going to use that angle I've always used.

And I want to deliver ten things today. If I'm not delivered, the ten things today are miserable. You're not good enough.

Yeah. And if it gets the point right now, you're dropping things. I'm not meeting my friends.

You know how also there's a social aspect. Check in on your friends. Exactly.

Like life 24/7. That's it. I wake up, my office is there in front of my bed.

So I wake up, I jump and just go eat. Now, for me, taking a step back meant learning how to manage things. And by managing things meant also managing people.

So if someone comes to me with this deliverable and let's say, for example, I wrote at least to do 1234, it means if I have done unless because a good thing is, I think also during that time I had a talk with my senior manager, who's also very supportive. And he was also able to mentor me on that aspect because I remember he told me this very well. Yeah.

If it's planned to do 1234, it has been you and guinea mungoje. Unless you're dying or the system is off, people are not getting services or anything. That's when probably you feel like you need to.

But if you've planned, you're doing ABCD, if you're doing A and someone calls you because everyone is calling you and telling you, oh, my God, deadlines. It's an emergency. My boss wants yeah, it's an emergency for everyone.

So if you're planning to do A, because now my problem was I'd start with A, I'm doing A. I get a call in between A, I shift to F. So by the end of the day, I've literally done nothing.

I'm all over the place. I'm disoriented. I don't even have time for myself.

I want to go to the gym. I can't go to gym. Literally, there's nothing I can I want to do things.

I want to live life. So this meant I noticed that the situation was not going to change with us just being two employees for a minute, because it was freeze. I think also the economy, the economy was very shaky.

Exactly. So it was now making it work for me and getting people to understand we don't have the same manpower we did before. So if things are being delivered to you this fast, you need to wait, because that's the only option.

That's the only other option. And that made me feel like gave me so much power because now, did it work? Was it working? Yeah. This one thing you are so fearful about.

Exactly. So now I'm able to manage my work. I'm even able to work out, go to the gym, I'm able to read a book.

You're the boss. I'm meeting my friends during the weekend to the point where even people ask, how do you make it? I don't think things are working. You're overdoing.

How do you do all these things at once? At once? Time management. Time management. You really needed to learn.

Yes. That's something that was not going to be given to me. I needed to learn the hard way, take control.

And I'd say it's given me so much opportunity. Now the team is larger. I'm finding now I have time to study.

I have time to study for what? Okay, so now you've been working at Safaricom all this time, taking autonomy, of taking control. And then now what has your journey been ever since you took control of back of your life? I've always wanted to advance my skills. You just look like someone who just loved school.

Just give me the energy of those kids, number one, just exactly. I've always wanted to enroll myself in something that will really boost me. So it was around October, there was this opportunity now through the company to enroll.

You remember that Moringa had been eyeing now to enroll in Moringa, sponsored by the company. So I got a chance now to do DevOps, which is that's where my heart lies, which we will explain what it means in another podcast. But that's what now, you do want to come back? Yeah, sure, why not? The stories are many.

That's what I'm currently learning. And the good thing with enrolling through something that the company has partnered with is they make it work for you. So I only have one week of school every month, and then during that week, now HR knows and your boss is aware, so you're not disturbed.

You just put a do not disturb up and you just study. What we love is convenience. Yeah, and that's been working for me at the same time.

I'm also now trying to do my own certifications now, like, I recently did the AWS exam. We love it. Because, you know what's funny is whenever you meet a lot of Devs, they're like, you don't have to go to uni, like just code every day.

It can be a self taught thing. You maybe do a short course, a crash course, and then the rest is history. But I think you're one of the first developers that I've met that really still aims to keep educating themselves in the school route, rather in the programs route, because normally maybe here they've gone for maybe a hackathon or they're just learning these languages as they go.

But yes, that's something I'm very proud of you to, first of all, be able to accomplish all your academic accomplishments as well as your developer accomplishments. I think what you've done is not a small fit. I think creating opportunities for yourself even before you finished uni.

Big opportunities, not just small, smaller ones. Sometimes. Again, like I keep saying, for any university student that's listening, the journey of your career should not begin post uni.

It should start within uni from making those connections that we'll tell you about. I know you can get lost in campus life and you're like, okay, then after campus, we'll sort of but after campus, when you're looking for jobs, they're looking for experience. Where is that experience coming from, what you are doing on campus? So if you're especially when it comes to coding, I believe all the people that I've met who are doing well in their field of software engineering are people who probably have something about, hey, I started doing something at 14, or I went for something, or in campus, every day we are waking up, we are coding or something.

Like, you really have to fall in love with what you're doing. Easier said than done, though, because I know if the process is not as seamless for everyone, some people just go to campus and you're like, I guess this is a course that will work for me. But I think a privilege can be figuring out or at least trying to do things.

Even if you're still trying to figure things out and navigating your own path, knowing that you're doing it to your level best and creating opportunities for yourself before opportunities present themselves to you, you kind of need to create them for yourself. True. Marinate yourself.

Marinate. Make yourself really coming to my Ted Talk. But yes.

So that's a journey I'm on. I think even the more I'm in this space, the more I see so many opportunities. It just doesn't have to be coding.

It doesn't have to be so much. You can be marketing. Hello, tech marketing.

You can be a lawyer. In Tech, there's a software architect. I feel like tech everyone.

It has everything and just based on the projections, it's an industry that's projected to grow and expand. Very much so, especially in the African space, we're expecting another. I mean, the boom craze already happened about two years ago.

But it's an evolving space. It's an industry that when you abroad, it's a bit saturated. There's the Silicon Valleys of this world.

People already adapting to digital solutions. But for Africa, it's still a long way to go in that one, creating accessibility and to data and solutions in that aspect before we even now get to people, to adapting to digital solutions. Because smartphones that are available, the journey is still there, which already tells you that the opportunities are yet to present themselves.

And there are so many products that are still being built. So 100% get into Tech man, and just do put yourself in all positions. Yourself in all positions.

You look at the blogs, if something just catches, like, just chase that interest. Yeah, just chase it. Because even in different places, before you actually get to the core, they train you.

It's true, they train you. It's not like you're just thrown to the deep. And maybe there are places you'll be thrown to the deep end, but who knows? Maybe that pressure will also get you working.

So I don't think you should shy away. And that thing for the impostor syndrome, just do it afraid. Yeah.

Confidence will get you places where no confidence will test. You can be the least confident person, but that confidence, you go present. Yeah, it can take you places.

So, yeah. I've really enjoyed this conversation with you, Naomi. Thank you so much for gracing this podcast.

Before we close off this episode, there's just a couple of questions that I wanted to ask you as we close off the episode that we do with our guests before the end of every episode, short and sweet questions. Okay. The first one that I have is what is one word to then describe your journey to get to where you are today and why? One word to get to where I am? Perseverance.

Perseverance? Yes. Wow. Why? Because it's been more of me doing my own things.

And as much as yeah, I have people who are I know people who are in tech and the people who have probably started things before me. My journey was still a bit different at the end of the day, it's true. And for me to come out at the other end, it meant me persevering with whatever situation I had and then making the whole situation work for me.

And now growing from there, that's been my situations all along through campus, as I was working and schooling, all these opportunities, I was double dealing. Now, in whatever situation I'm in, it's more of you assessing a situation, saying, yes, we're under resourced, it's stretching me, but can I make this work? Yes. COVID is happening.

Things are not how things look like. Can you make it work for you? Yes. I love that messaging.

I love that messaging because like you said, our generation, there's a lot of people who believe that suffering can be a choice or you can decide that you're not going to take this BS. You need to look up for yourself first, which is absolutely true. But some situations as an adult, as we adult, is you don't have an option.

But actually, even the whole concept of suffering, it's a concept that you put in your head. Yeah, well, okay, maybe you're actually suffering. Define sorry.

You don't know the situation. Everyone has their own situation. Yes, but let me take it for myself.

The suffering I was doing was more of me and probably talking to people and seeing and, yeah, I shouldn't be here, and I got a first class, I should be there. You should be there. Yeah.

And I came here. It's not what I thought it should be. I don't think I need to be here.

I'm seeing everyone is going abroad. Everyone is doing this. So now that's why I mean, that suffering was me putting onto myself.

Because of the things you're also feeding yourself. Exactly. So it's more taking a step back, looking at the environment around you, and you making it work.

So that way you then become a pioneer for God knows who in that situation. Yes, I love that. And just to touch on what you were talking about, there's a book that I really love that I read repeatedly just to encourage me, the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

It's a really good book, very mind. Have you read the book rather? Have you heard of it? Okay, sorry. I've heard of it.

Okay, fine stories. But one of the biggest philosophies of that book is that what is it that you're willing to suffer for? Like, suffering is part and parcel of life, but what is it you're willing to give? You should give a fuck about and what is what suffering for? Because life is all about suffering in its own itself. Like, even when you're building your own career, whether it's even starting this podcast, then whatever you want to do is going to take money.

It's going to take your time. A relationship is a sacrifice in itself just to even give it different context. But is this something you're willing to suffer for? Because what is your ultimate goal? Is this part of the journey? So I think just to really strongly support your point is that suffering for coding was something you were willing to do.

And for that time when you reduced from a team of seven to two people, it's still something that you felt you should have done. And I think do you have which is okay. It's one of the questions that I'm probably another thing my dear therapist told me when I was considering quitting was, you want to start this just before you get to pro that bridge you want to cross.

So if you want to start this quit and go start something else, you'd probably quit and go start something else, and then you'll still quit and start. So at the end of the day, you just have things yeah, you can't call yourself a pro. Yeah, it's true.

But also when it comes to that, starting from there and feeling, hey, maybe this is not for me, and then starting something else, it's something that you start to realize that it's not more of the opportunities I'm getting, but more internal. Like, what is this that is preventing me from being the person that I want to become? Because every single time you'll reach a certain maybe it's time you're like, after a year, you start feeling some way in every single thing that you feeling. What I'm feeling, then you need to also ask yourself, is it something wrong with me? Do I have a shiny coin syndrome? That when something I'm tired of something, I'm not able to get through to it and overcome the trouble.

So I didn't think about the second question I'd ask is what advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to get to where you are today? Just do it. Whatever it is, just do it. Don't look at it and say like you're in a car complex.

You'd rather get there than you're just seeing something from a distance and it's looking big and scary. So just do it. I agree.

I agree. What's funny is, again, we were recording another episode with another lovely guest and that is exactly what she said, that you just need to do it. We are delicious enough to just do it.

It normally looks like a big thing, but it's your head that's getting a whole lot of 100%. So just do it. Opportunities.

I think luck is when preparation meets opportunity. So what are you doing to prepare yourself for when that thing you're looking for arises? That opportunity. Did I make sense? Luck.

Preparation meets bigger opportunity. I'll probably go contemplate after this. Yeah, think about it.

That is just easily can be seen with the testimonies that you've given us in your journey of by the time you are even getting into the hackathon programs or Safaricom, you are already doing the work. So by the time the opportunity reached your door, you are already so prepared even to say, oh, it was luck. But really there's nothing like overnight success.

That's something small. It's very relevant. It's very relevant because you never know how relevant it's going to be.

I mean, that small YouTube channel that I started right now, we are true. So it may not seem impactful, but trust me, those small things lead to something big. Do you have any regrets or what would you have done better or differently? Do you feel like you have any? Maybe not yet.

Unless more I go back and think, but I don't. You don't look for problems where they are not there. Yeah.

No. You start looking at problems. No.

Imagine it's okay for you not to have any regrets. I think if it's worked out not the way it was meant to be, not how you imagined it to be. Because when you imagine the journey, it's not always the way it comes out.

But trust, I'd like to believe that things happen the way they do because they were meant to happen the way they did. Yeah. Maybe if I create a problem.

I wish I started coding at night. Yeah, that's actually what people say. That's what other devices say.

I wish I started coding. Alia well, such a big thing to me. I think the last question I'll ask you is to finally close off this episode, give us a powerful parting shot or something to close off this episode with a bag.

Let me think about a book I read and the book are still very dear to me, but what I like about it, it's the power that that person had to tell their story because I believe in the power of telling your story. And you also reflecting, so you looking at what you've done and how you've come from, how far you've come from and what the next part of your life will look like. So it's more articulating, your probably, but put it out there.

So what's your story and what you want people to know? Wow. Yeah, I love that. That's a very good way to close off your episode.

Thanks so much nomi, for gracing your presence in this space. Gracing us with your presence today. I think this has been a very insightful conversation.

I know you were a bit nervous coming in because it's fun, it's just talking, it's more of a conversation. Before you come here, you start thinking, hey, what am I going to say, what's the structure? But once you get into it, it's more of my tech story. Space is a space for my journey.

Express your journey and honestly, your journey is inspiring in one way or another, whether you think it or not. I think I also love having that, giving my guest that moment of reflection of, wow, what has my journey been and what are the good things, the strengths, the weaknesses? Whatnot? Yeah, 100%. Guys, there's also a call for you if you're interested to be a guest on my tech story.

You think you have something you would love to share with our audience from all over Africa. Honestly, this is a Pan African space or even beyond Africa. If you're an African abroad or building something, you can always send an email to us giving us a request at mytextory

All the links of course, are going to be in the bio. And Naomi, thank you once again. If you have any links you would love to share with our audience that you think they should check out, maybe about you, maybe about something you're working on or a project or anything really, you can send that over to us so that we can also link them in the description from wherever you're listening from.

Guys, this has been a long outro, but long story short, thank you so much for tuning in. My name is Alice Kanjejo, I have been your lovely wolf and I'll see you guys next week for the next episode. Thank you so much.


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