Interview with Wendy Oluoch, Jenga School CEO

  1. Please tell us about your journey as a woman who works in the tech space and what motivated you to join the tech world.
    Growing up, I wasn’t one of those students with dreams of being a doctor or any other profession that was popular. Even as I applied to universities, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So I did what most students do: pick a course depending on what you are good at. Math was my main stronghold, so I was advised to do finance or accounting considering math is also heavily related to STEM degree programs. First forward, I happened to secure a job in the tech industry, and this is how my love for tech began. Sometimes it takes a big leap to get in the right place, working with tech enthusiasts at JENGA School and learning the various frameworks drew my passion towards this field. The more I interacted with tech experts, it became more apparent to me that we have very few women in this industry and this
    drew my passion to empower more women in tech which propelled our big hairy audacious goal at JENGA School of ensuring we have 50,000 women through our program by 2030.
  2. What are your duties as CEO of a tech company?
    In my perspective, CEO is just a title, it is not a job and to be quite frank, for me being a CEO means ensuring the overall success of JENGA School in producing world class well rounded technology professionals and building strategic industry partnerships that create opportunities for techies. Most importantly, it means creating the best environment for my team to deliver their best. As Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
  3. How has your career in tech impacted your life?
    My experience surrounding tech has evolved over time. I have deliberately been bringing technology into my life, and the life of others. During my time at JENGA School, I have seen students come to learn and emerge as better professionals, well equipped to take on new challenges at work, innovate and simplify processes for their work environments. My journey has been better because of the people who believed in me. I would like to appreciate Mark Karake, founder of JENGA School and Impact Africa Network, for empowering young talented Africans to participate in the digital transformation of Africa as innovators and creators. As the saying goes, companies that don’t innovate die.This has fueled a new passion within me; to ensure I empower more people in the tech ecosystem through our programs to pursue careers in Data Science and Software engineering.
  4. What challenges do you experience as a woman in tech?
    According to PWC statistics, women make up 28% in leadership roles in the tech industry with men representing 72%.One of the major challenges I must say is the perception that men are better in tech than women. This has resulted in women lacking a voice within the tech ecosystem. On a personal note, I have struggled to find comparative peers. Women like me in similar positions to emulate, to seek mentorship. Companies need to invest hugely on aspects of diversity and inclusion. We need to build a culture where women feel comfortable bringing their unique ideas, perspectives and experiences to the table especially in tech.
  5. What are some of the significant tech projects you have led?
    I have been able to lead amazing projects at JENGA School, but two that stand out are TAPin and JENGA Tech Community. We realised a need to bridge the gap between qualified tech talent and the opportunities available. TAPin tech talent is a platform that comes to solve this by linking tech professional talent to employers seeking to fill these positions. One of the most unique offerings of TAPin is that techies are able to showcase their skills and projects to recruiters. JENGA Tech Community (JTC) on the other hand, is a unified learning space for African techies to learn, network, collaborate and give back. JENGA Tech Community enables our members to upskill while giving them an opportunity to be identified as thought leaders in the industry.
  6. As an industry player, can you point out the role that women have played in developing Kenya’s tech ecosystem?
    Kenyan women have been seen at the forefront in developing Kenya’s tech ecosystem. I take pride in the fact that it was a woman who wrote a blog to coders inviting them to work on a platform to track violence and emergencies following the 2007 post election violence. One of the leading tech training platforms in Kenya was founded and is run by a woman. This initiative has since impacted thousands of young girls in Kenya. Honestly, it’s beautiful to watch women claim their spaces and when given a chance, they thrive.
  7. From your experience, what do you think is stopping more women from playing technology roles?
    I do believe that it goes back to our culture, young women are not inspired or shown all choices available for them as they go through school. Young women tend to incline towards professions that most women are in. In my view, this is due to lack of encouragement and awareness. They are uninformed, they lack mentors, they lack women in tech leadership positions to emulate. This has actually inspired my vision for JENGA School, I would like to ensure 50,000 women go through our programs by 2030. At JENGA School, we are very intentional on empowering women in tech from our programs to thought out events amongst other means
  8. What is your message to young girls who want to venture in tech?
    Technology is the ultimate portable career, there has never been a better time to be part of the tech ecosystem. You are in the right place at the right time and tech is definitely a good place to make your ideas happen.

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