This week we shine a spotlight on Margaret Ondeng. Award winner in IBM Master the Mainframe Champion in 2014 where she represented Kenya in New York for the World Championship and 50 recipients in world of Facebook Grace Hopper Scholarship in Texas, 2016.
She is a software developer by profession and currently a Mobile Money Integration Specialist, pursuing a masters degree in computational intelligence with focus on Machine Learning. She talks about her journey as a software developer and her various contributions in tech space.
What’s your journey and story?
I have over four years of experience in Mobile Financial Services and Value Added Services with an exposure in Technologies, Processes and Strategies. So far the journey has been great, of course more often than not you will have to work twice as hard for someone to believe that you can actually deliver.
I currently work at DPO Group as their Mobile Money Integration Specialist where my main role is developing and specifying the group Mobile Network Operators(MNOs) Integration Program and Technology. I previously worked with Inmobia Mobile Technology as a Senior Systems Developer and Mahindra Comviva as a Mobile Money Integration Engineer.
I previously led the Google Developer Group and Women Tech Makers Nairobi. I am still a big supporter of the GDG (Google Developers Group) and WTM (Women Tech Makers) Communities in terms of mentor-ship, keynote speaker and panelist. I also facilitate sessions at their annual events.
The various institutions that I mentor include University of Nairobi (UoN) Computer science Female students, a contributor at Kamilimu, tech mentor-ship programme led by Dr. Chao as well as a volunteer at technovation global where I was recently recognized as a judge adviser. I’m glad to see the women I mentor in the tech ecosystem succeed.
“..we still have a lot to do like shift the focus to Primary and High schools students at a stage where most girls make decisions that will later on influence the direction they will take in their careers..”
We are making progress in bridging the gender gap in STEM careers but we still have a lot to do like shift the focus to Primary and High schools students at a stage where most girls make decisions that will later on influence the direction they will take in their careers. As a mentor at Mpesa Foundation Academy and pitch Africa program lead at Startup Africa I get to interact with a lot of high school students. If we do not encourage women to take up STEM courses at this stage then we will continue having few women taking up Stem Related courses at Universities levels and the narrative will never change.
We have several Women in Tech groups that can play a major role in this rather than fully focusing on University Students. We should also stop focusing on the challenges women in technology are facing and tell more success stories to encourage those who are joining STEM careers.
“..get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The fact that there are few of us in these careers … is an advantage..”
My parting shot to women and especially those in the tech industry is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The fact that there are few of us in this careers to me is an advantage and thus presents us with a lot of amazing opportunities. But you have to work for it and bloom. Know your interests as early as you can and work on them. There are plenty of online resources that can help in that. Find a mentor with experience in your area of interest.