For many women, being part of the tech industry has provided successful and rewarding careers. This is the story of Ikiokaye Idowu, a Biochemistry graduate of Lagos State University who started her career in the banking sector but is now an Operations Manager with Tek Experts, a company that offers deep technical support and professional services for blue-chip technology companies.
There is a certain sense of false stability and security that comes with being in the banking sector. At least that was how Idowu may have felt. She described the banking sector, where she worked as a Customer Service Agent as monotonous and non-challenging.
“The operations were dull and not challenging so I needed something else to challenge me. I wanted to focus on building my career, the banking sector wasn’t it and I wasn’t comfortable in that space”, she said.
Journey into tech
Her quest for something more challenging and progress in her career led her to seek opportunities in different companies. Joining Tek Experts changed the trajectory of her career.
Idowu applied to Tek Experts as a Support Engineer and resigned from the bank to resume her new job. This was in 2018. As a Support Engineer, she attended to the needs of Microsoft customers in the billing aspect.
An obvious note of satisfaction was evident when Idowu shared her experiences in the tech industry. She has finally arrived at a fulfilling destination after 8 years of unexciting work. “It’s awesome and challenging. It’s never a stable environment, always new things to challenge your intellect and focus. It has been quite interesting,” she says.
Within three years in the tech industry, she has quickly climbed the ranks from Support Engineer to being Operations Manager. On her way to being Operations Manager, she also served as Team Manager and Section Manager.
Now, there is no fear of monotonous work as she always has something new to learn in order to properly manage operations. This has also helped in her self-development.
There’s always something different added to the operations. When you think you got your hands on everything you need to know, something new comes up that you need to learn. It helps to develop yourself.
Adapting to the tech industry
As much as she enjoys the different twists that come with being an Operations Manager, keeping up with the pace is a challenge. She is however glad to tackle those challenges. According to her, the challenges are to her advantage since it requires her to learn new things in order to keep up.
“Keeping up with the pace is very challenging and you get to learn new things. You need to give your all to be able to keep up,” she noted.
Idowu attributes her growth in Tek Experts to belief in her herself and some quality mentoring. She describes herself as someone who is not comfortable with back-benching and so she contributes her own quota.
Training and opportunities for career development organised by her company have also been instrumental in her growth. Supportive colleagues also constantly offer encouragement and drive to do better, and do more.
What I have not been able to achieve in 8 years in the banking sector, I have done tremendously well just within 3 years in Tek experts.
Speaking of work values, Idowu says she has learnt quite a lot. Two things that stand out are collaboration and sharing of knowledge. Compared to the banking sector where she worked before, people guarded their knowledge because of fear that your own understanding could put them out of their jobs.
At Tek Experts, the core values are working together, knowledge matters and customer first. These values have additionally helped her to build her career.
Ladies need to challenge themselves to take up certain roles
Increasing gender diversity in the tech sector, and working towards inclusive culture in firms, is an ongoing process in the technology sector. Though efforts are being made to increase representation, progress is slow and this is a fact that Ikiokaye Idowu acknowledges.
According to Idowu, many ladies are not challenging themselves to take up certain roles because they think the roles are male-dominated.
“We still have many ladies out not challenging themselves to take up certain roles because they think it’s a male-dominated role,” she said.
She says Tek Experts is heavily dominated by the male gender with 74% and 26% female.
However, this is not because the company lacks an open door policy. It knows that there is still a lot to be done and so they have partnered with Microsoft to drive female-specific programs where they upskill women without IT backgrounds across different Microsoft technologies.
This partnership started in 2019 and from then till date, Tek Experts has completed 2 cohorts and recruited about 40 women to work. “That’s still a drop in the ocean but we’re working hard to drive programs to ensure that more women come into the space.”
Women don’t need tech background to succeed in the industry
Idowu thinks women mentoring women programs are very vital in helping more women wishing to carve out a career in tech. She was part of a workplace initiative where female supervisors served as mentors and regards the feedback as inspiring.
She also advocated for the establishment of conferences and programs in schools to help young girls adopt tech as a career from a young age.
“Additionally, there should be women conferences in schools to encourage young ladies to join,” she said.
Her advice to young women looking to go into tech is for them to come as they are. Idowu herself does not possess tech skills, so to speak but she’s doing well in the industry.
You don’t necessarily have to have technical knowledge or have computer based certification. There are avenues to train you at your own pace.
Evidently, the industry still has a great way to go before it can be seen as providing equal opportunities for women. Right now, however, women need to fight the prejudice that they are not techy or not knowledgeable enough.
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