Happy New Year and we hope your year is off to a great start.
This week we sit down with eclectic software engineer Uchechukwu Emmanuel as he details his journey through technology. As Backend developer with Cowry wise, Uche’s work revolves around API Design and API development.
On a daily basis, he tackles any challenge that comes his way by looking for useful tradeoffs and efficient methods of productivity. Enjoy our interview.
What were your motivations for pursuing a career in Tech?
I think one of the foundational things I learned early in my journey is that a career is not a ladder.
I think about it more like a door which when opened, reveals many other doors. So, you might reach a different destination than someone who started off from the same place that you’re at. I love solving problems so it was very important for me to choose a path where my skills would be relevant irrespective of the door that I opened. To me that was technology.
I see technology as an enabler, today I’m solving problems in FinTech, tomorrow it could be Insurtech or Healthtech but what would remain relevant across-the-board would be the Technology
Can you detail your journey into technology?
Growing up, I used to help people in my community configure their mobile devices.
This soon became a huge business for my older brother. He set up a call and internet center in a rural village around 2005, So I’ve pretty much been a geek for a very long time. But the real journey began with a bootcamp in Lagos where I learnt Design Thinking, Software Engineering, and Business Management. That set me up with the skills to seek real opportunities.
So I did an internship with a UK company and worked with one of their portfolio companies here in Nigeria.
What are a few challenges you encounter in your daily work as Software Engineer at Cowry wise?
I think the greatest challenge would be choosing the right trade-offs to make. There are several ways to solve a problem and the real challenge is identifying the most efficient way to go about it. This is particularly important because there is a high velocity in the FinTech ecosystem and deliverables are constantly shooting through the roof.
I have come to realize however, that the circumstances surrounding a problem are what typically drive the kind of trade-offs engineers are willing to make.
Speak to us on what excites you about your role?
At the heart of what I do as a backend engineer is API Design and API Development.
While I love working on API Development, what really excites me about my role is API Design. API Design is intrinsically very much related to the overall UX of the product or feature being built. The API Design methodology, the endpoints exposed, the parameters that the endpoints accept, the schema of the entities involved, the request and response structure, etc.
These and many more ultimately impact the functionality of the software product or feature.
What skillset is required to undertake a career as Backend developer?
The skills required to undertake a backend role would differ from team to team. But what would remain constant is the key ideas and concepts of backend engineering, which are API Design and Development and, Databases, Third Party Integrations, Infrastructure. There is so much involved with each of the items listed above.
Some engineers pick one as an area of specialization. Each of the items above have different skills and tools involved.
Can you share a few life lessons you have learned in your journey through Technology?
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming
the other way who nods and says “Morning boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the heck is water?”
The biggest barrier to learning from contact with reality is ourselves. It’s hard to understand a system that we are a part of because we have blind spots, where we can’t see what we aren’t looking for, and don’t notice what we don’t notice.
What advice do you have for new Bees building a career in Tech?
Be part of a community, don’t go into tech because you heard there’s a lot of money in it. You have to be
genuinely interested in solving problems, be genuinely interested in helping others. Be open to doing free work, be intentional about your growth.
What opportunities are available for young Techies who want to undertake a career in Software Engineering in Nigeria?
The benefits of being part of a community are large semicolon Africa is a good place to start, ingressive also provides great scholarships for tech talents.
There are numerous opportunities out there so you need to be intentional about being involved, sometimes it is all it takes.