Mentorship Circle with Microsoft
Microsoft employees volunteered their time for a one-hour mentorship session with the women in Developers in Vogue’s (DiV) community. These professionals adviced, shared and answered questions of participants in offering guides to their career paths in the technology space. The session was held on Friday, 24th September, 2021, from 4pm to 5:20pm GMT with 23 women in attendance.
Represented were Ivy Barley – Co-founder of DiV and Program Manager at Microsoft, Edem Kumodzi -Program Manager at Microsoft with the N365 Engineering team, Tamer Shabani — Program Manager at Microsoft with the Azure Communications Services team and Williams Adu – Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft.
Participants included Doreen Ntumy, Seyram Amuzu and Mabel Adjei. Doreen is a Front-end Developer and UI/UX Designer, whose purpose for joining the mentorship circle was to know more about the mentors’ journey in their tech fields, their roles in Microsoft and opportunities for women in tech in Ghana. Seyram currently works at Vodafone and is undertaking a course in Data Science. She participated to know more about mentors’ work at Microsoft and to gain insight on the right tech career path. Mabel is a PMP professional and joined the mentorship circle to learn everything she can, especially as she seeks to pursue a career in IT Program Management.
MENTOR’S EXPERIENCES – HOW THEY GOT STARTED
Williams started developing in 2010, when he began building apps. The passion started when he saw a friend writing and reading codes in C#, which he found impressive. He started learning tips and tricks from him, reading books and in 2011 tried a project on his own. In 2015, he joined a startup in Accra, where he learned more about how to build web applications and incorporate bookmarking and some technologies with databases and got really acquainted. In 2017 he joined Andela as a consultant.
He joined Microsoft in 2020 as a Senior Software Engineer. In his practice, he debugged a lot, got some coaching and mentorship with individuals, and watched mentorship tutorials, did lots of hands-on practices and put himself into a lot of projects to get to where he is today.
Tamer started his journey around 2015/2016 in the context of social development with Hubtel in Ghana. Initially, his focus was on helping them rebrand from SMS GH to Hubtel, pivoting to become an e-commerce / Fintech company. He was into Business Development related activities and got involved with Scrum, an agile practice of optimizing and effectively managing software development processes, which formed part of his first exposure to anything tech related. A couple of years later, he joined Microsoft as a Program Manager.
Edem goes as far back as 2007. As a student, he tried to build a student information platform and, in the process learned how to build web applications and databases. This got him recognized for his first job when he was contracted to build a hotel booking platform for an upcoming United Nations conference in Ghana at the time. Since then, he has been through a series of learning and technical roles where he has led teams to carry out tasks. He collaborated with Ivy on several initiatives when she started DiV. He worked with Andela as his personal goal of trying to upskill the next generation aligned with Andela’s goal of trying to connect talents to opportunities. He is now with Microsoft as a Program Manager but still writes code in his free time as a hobby.
Ivy started exploring computing during her childhood days. She remembers she built a website for selling things online in those days and found tech interesting. With her math background, she studied Actuarial Science for her undergraduate and Mathematical Statistics for her masters. After that she took up a role in a school and taught them Math, Statistics and Programming. She started DiV a year later and ran full time with it for 3 years till she joined Microsoft as a Program Manager in 2020, which she saw as a platform to make global impact. She recently switched to Microsoft Education, where she is doing more of a Data Scientist related role with some Program Manager work.
QUESTION AND ANSWERS
Snippets from an insightful and engaging Q & A.
Q: Celestine – When it comes to health how do I analyze health data? What are some of the other languages that you think can help me analyze data? I am planning to do my masters in health data
analytics. Thank you.
A: Ivy – I haven’t worked with health data before, so everything I say will be about analytics. My recommendation will be that, if you have already started with Python and you like it then I suggest you
keep at it and try to deepen your knowledge and your proficiency in Python. If you don’t like Python and you want to do R, it’s fine to switch. Right now, in my role I use Python for the most part but I know some other Data Analysts and Data Scientists who use only R, and some use both. Some use one or the
other depending on what task they are working on. With Sequel, Sequel is mainly how you’re going to manipulate databases and with health data, I’m sure there are many records.
Q: Seyram – Hi, thank you all for sharing your experiences. I wanted to ask, is there a space in tech currently for team leads or do you necessarily have to know a bit of coding before you can be a team lead?
A: Edem – I don’t think that you necessarily need to learn how to code to be a good product, project or program manager unless you actually want to yourself and that could actually be an advantage because, if you’re working on products that the audience have to be non-technical people, you would use it and you would think about it in a way that a non-technical person would. So, I’d say you don’t have to necessarily pick like, a super difficult language. It could even be just pseudo codes to understand how
code is organized and things like that, just to get how engineers do their work. Other than that, it’s not really necessary.
The session eventually ended after the Q & A with some advice from mentors, leaving the participants satisfied. A big thanks to the mentors and the participants that made it an amazing session.