Andela's pre-fellowship programmes director, Agnes Muthoni, gets candid on her love for technology

Agnes Muthoni speaks to Business Insider on her life as a techie and how she is using the resource to help develop the African tech space.

You see the beauty of technology of transcending borders, gender roles, financial status and even one’s educational background is what stole Ms. Muthoni’s heart and made her fall in love hopelessly with it and hence began a lifetime affair of being a techie.

Business Insider SSA spoke to Agnes Muthoni, a director at Andela Kenya running their Pre-fellowship programmes to understand how she came to fall in love with technology and how she is using the resource to help develop the African tech space.

Business Insider SSA (BISSA):  First thing first what drew you to technology?

Agnes Muthoni (AM): From a very young age I always wanted to be involved in something which creates a positive impact in the lives of people and Technology had that capacity and quality, technology creates opportunities that transcend borders, gender, financial status or even one’s educational background and that’s what really got me interested in tech. I view technology as an equalizer and so far I am enjoying every minute of it and it has given me the chance to make this desired impact.

BISSA: So how did you end up at Andela Kenya and what did you study in school to become a director?

AM: First of all i view myself as a lifelong learner and since I was a small kid I have always sought to learn and build skills and competencies that will enable me to become great and achieve my dreams and that quest for knowledge is how I ended up here as a director at Andela of Pre-fellowship at Andela.

For my education, I attended Southern Methodist University where I pursued and graduated with a degree in Mathematics.

BISSA: So what does your job entail?

AM: My job as the director involves identifying and recruiting talent into the fellowship program. We hire aspiring developers and through the fellowship program, they grow their career by working in global engineering teams.

So far we have recruited over 300 developers in Andela Kenya alone which is really great.

Jobs in technology are the future and are in high demand so we encourage people who want to become global technologists not only in Kenya but across all our locations in Lagos, Kampala and now Kigali to apply.

BISSA: Tell us what you are currently working on?

AM: My current project is so exciting and involves talent recruitment expansion plans for our newest office in Kigali, Rwanda. As you know we recently opened our first of a kind pan-African technology hub in Kigali and our 4th African market in Africa.

We are really proud and from it, we will be able to recruit tech talent from across Africa, little by little, one line of code at a time we are writing the future of Africa.

Rwanda offers visa on arrival for all African countries and coupled with their flexibility for work permits, this will enable us to offer opportunities to more African developers especially where we do not have an Andela presence.

BISSA: So What do you love the most about your work that makes you look forward to getting out of bed to go to work every morning?

AM:  There are a ton of things I love about my work but the fact that I get to work for an organization that believes brilliance is evenly distributed tops them all.

For example, recently we had a street vendor who went through Andela’s resources, taught himself how to program, went through the fellowship application process and he is now a developer at Andela shows that in life we just need an equal chance to succeed

Stories like these and many more are the ones that keep me motivated to be part of the unfolding of human transformation.

BISSA: That is great but I am sure the job is not a walk in the park and comes with some challenges, right?

AM: Yes! But it’s a different kind of a challenge, infact, a good kind of a challenge.  Andelans have vision and heart and they bring their ‘A’ game to work every single day. I think we’re all committed to the mission of advancing human potential. This keeps me on my toes constantly as I too need to match up and consistently bring my top-notch game. It’s a different but EPIC work culture.

BISSA: Do you have people you look up who keep you going when it gets tough and what particular trait do you admire the most in them?

AM: I do and Sakena Yacoobi, the founder of an Afghan female-led institute of learning is my role model, She single-handedly stopped the Taliban in Afghanistan from closing down her school through love, trust and compassion. I am inspired by people like Sakena who dig deep within themselves to truly love and have compassion for people from different ethnic/religious backgrounds and with different perspectives - these are the people who I believe can conquer the world.

BISSA: They say work and no play makes Agnes a dull woman so what do you do for fun?

AM: Hahaha! I can assure you that I love to work smart and I create ‘play time’ that allows me to hit the ‘reset’ button and rejuvenate.  I love to dance - my team at Andela know me for breaking out into a dance during our team meetings. I also love connecting with nature and I do occasionally take walks in nature trails/parks. Good thing Nairobi City offers most of that so I don’t need to get out of town to have fun.

BISSA:  So what do love eating to get the energy to dance and what kind of music would you love to hear blasting on the speakers as you dance?

AM: I consider myself a foodie - I love trying out new restaurants and sharing my recommendations of best places to try out to my friends and family.

My favorite food is a paella, a Spanish rice dish served with sausage and as for music I love any kind of music that is great for dancing like Afrobeat- bongo flava.

BISSA: If you were to have a superpower apart from using it to take on the Taliban like Sakena, how would you use your superpower to change the world and more specifically what superpower would you love to possess?

AM: That is an interesting question - I would love to have the superpower of making people laugh - because I believe laughter is an agent that can heal people from sadness and transport them if only momentarily to a brighter, world filled with happiness.

BISSA:  You know ever since Black Panther came out you can’t talk about tech especially in Africa without mentioning the movie, so who was your favorite Wakanda action hero?

AM: I loved the superheroine - Okoye, because she is a black woman who plays a strong and powerful role as the greatest warrior in all of fictional country Wakanda, She doesn’t just sit back and watch. She takes action.

This is the first episode of Tech Thursday, a series that explores African tech in depth and celebrates changemakers in the African tech ecosystem.


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