ADEBOLA OLOMO SHOWS US HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN TECH
Adebola told Women4IT and Tech Week the story of how she became a successful business woman in the tech world. Her love and drive for software and web development is what brought her to where she is today.
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1.Could you tell me more about who you are and what you do?
My name is Adebola Olomo and I excel at communications. I’m married and I live in Ireland, although I am from Nigeria. I also have a nine-year-old daughter I’m very proud of. I moved to Ireland in 2016 when my husband got a role with a Financial Corporation in Dublin. I am a Graduate of Law from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Although, I’ve never gone on to practice. My first “main” job was at a Web Development company, where I worked as a personal assistant. On the job, I fell in love with website development, software development, and mobile app development. From there, I started to manage software projects, and have since gone on to work for over 4 organisations – developing strategies for communication using technology.
I have worked in marketing, public relations, and the sort, but my roots and the things I enjoy, have always been technical – looking at how people’s dreams and aspirations can come to life, using technology. That has always been the touch that I bring to all my projects. As a result of my background in Marketing, Business, and Communications, I can be a formidable middle ground between the software development completion process and the software testing team. That way, I know to test for the customer’s needs, rather than just the software’s efficacy. It is something I have enjoyed doing for the past 10 years.
I enjoy dancing and watching movies on Netflix. I belong to a dance group where we dance in different countries — I remember spreading the message of Hope through dance with my group at a South African Prison, to remind the inmates never to give up on life.
I currently volunteer with the African Professional Network, Ireland (APNI) which allows me to further drive diversity, inclusion and women empowerment within the biggest companies in Ireland.
2. How did you get to where you are right now in your career?
My first job was at Tavia Technology, a software development company. There, I got the opportunity to work with MTN Nigeria, the biggest broadband mobile service provider in Africa, to help people appreciate and understand how to communicate using technology. As a result of how I was successfully able to implement this in Nigeria, I was eventually hired by the MTN Group headquartered in South Africa. While there, I traveled to several African Countries where MTN had offices, shared and enlightened communication experts on how to embrace technology in reaching more people — this was in the 2000s, before social media became the in-thing!
After this, I became a PR & Communications Expert with an FMGC company. During my short stay there, I kept thinking of ways to fully integrate technology in everyday life.
This was what incepted the birth of my Digital Firm, Deefrent, in November 2009. Here, we were able to help companies build websites and software that met the target company’s goals with its target audience at the center of the strategy. With this, we were able to ensure the customers’ experience was held in the highest regard.
I have worked on several software and mobile application projects; from e-commerce, to financial tech, to sports, to building online and bank portals and continue to do so. I am also an ISTQB certified tester. This ensured that our processes became better structured for efficiency.
Here in Dublin, I work part-time as a consultant on contract-based jobs in different companies, whilst still retaining my agency in Nigeria. No matter how I look at these opportunities/projects, they offer the same result — an opportunity for me to learn, expand and widen my scope.
3. What has been the role of technology and digital skills on this path?
It is quite simple really. Technology means ease. This has been its definition since the 1st Century. Digital Skills with Technology, offer significantly newer ways to work, with the promised delivery of more efficient results, lesser costs, seamless processes and an improved experience for the user or customer, who is ALWAYS the deciding factor.
Technology has paved a unique path for me in achieving my goals, and with my skills, I was able to make an impact in every organisation I have worked in. People don’t just want to know what your ideas are, they are excited when you can show them how those ideas can come to life. That is what being a technology buff does, it gives you tools to be confident with breaking the norm and innovating.
4. What are the benefits of working in the tech sector/ digital for a woman?
One of the advantages of being a woman within the digital and tech space is the fact that people listen to us. When you have a meeting and everybody expects to see men show up and a woman walks in, she opens her mouth and knows exactly what she’s saying, that’s always been an advantage!
I think that it’s something women can continue to build upon; to be that voice that makes a difference. Women must aim to be the best at whatever they do so that when opportunities show up, we are poised to take it on in style. When we talk or when we show our skills, people should be wowed. Women are generally better managers, and because of this skill, we’re able to move faster within the organization.
This doesn’t mean that we’re threats, even when we’re at the top. The fact is, women are what we are— we are nurturing and aim to give our best when those around us believe in us.
What I just enjoy the most in this space, is the surprises on people’s faces when they find out that the “person” they’ve been speaking about is a lady, not a guy! It gives me a sly smile.
5. How do companies benefit from having women in ICT positions (tech/digital)?
Women are thorough, loyal, and very invested when they love what they do. So, it’s very empowering for companies that give opportunities to women, because, what they end up having, are women that enjoy what they do and stay committed to nurturing the business.
So, long as the environment is not toxic, women can blossom. When women in organizations do well, the organization does well. Organizations need to know when a woman is passionate about what they do, especially when it is tech, and thus, allow them to blossom and grow.
Although they might not be as aggressive in the beginning, most women are invested when they know something and enjoy doing it. You’ll find that they will put their best into it, they will be loyal to it and they will continually aim to nurture others and be the best at what they do.
I think it’s in a company’s advantage to hire women into roles that they know are important to organizations, like tech – which is at the heart of a company. Women take time to learn, understand the space and push the boundaries and with this are able to teach and mentor others, and at the end, company benefits.
6. Do you think we should have more women in the tech sector/digital jobs? Why?
Women will always find a way around something; we don’t give up easily, we are driven. The mind-blowing part is that these “normal” attributes women possess, make for the foundation of success for every organization.
In the tech and digital world, we want creative people who are not just creative for themselves but creative for everyone. Women are great at being team players once they have the support of the company or the team that they work with. Having a positive work environment is very nurturing for women and once that is a possibility for a woman, greater things begin to happen.
I understand that for most companies that have come from many ages where money and finance were the bedrock of most organizations, they’re looking for that guy that’s dapper and willing to play golf and go to the club. Women were not found in those rooms, and organizations are used to the fact that, when it comes to rugged work, you get men.
But now, technology does the rugged work. We just need people that can be organized, creative and can ensure that things are done well. In testing. For example, we understand that once a problem isn’t fixed at the beginning, it’s more expensive to fix at the end.
Women are thorough and for organizations in this age where technology is doing all the work, where digital is doing the communication, women must help fortify what is being built so that processes run continuously for the organization.
It’s to a company’s benefit that women are at the forefront of the roles that matter— especially in tech and digital.
7. Why is developing digital skills important? What opportunities can it bring, especially for women?
Today, the world isn’t drawing back. It’ll keep moving forward. We’re now moving to AI, Holograms, Machine Learning; all these, driven by digital and technology. Women need to ensure that they are well-positioned for the opportunities ahead. Women must start to think about the next big thing.
Data is what is important now, better yet, data is what interprets technology for its improvement. With this in mind, there’s no way that technology goes back to the way it was, it can only get better. Women need to stop thinking about clichés, start thinking about where the world is going and begin to position themselves for that shift. We need to ensure that we’re empowering ourselves for that shift.
I see a lot of women doing great things in technology today, however, most of them are not at the forefront and as such, younger women coming into the industry don’t get to see someone like them doing innovative things within organisations, and this can be a challenge in the way they view a woman’s success within the technology world.
Listen, young women, the future is still technology and there’s no running away from it. You need to position yourselves for it NOW, so that when the opportunities come, you’re well prepared and positioned to change the world! The world is beginning to align itself to a place where it understands, appreciates and better positions women. Start getting ready now, because the future is now. What’s better is, you’ll be able to stand as a beacon of light for the next generation of women to succeed when you succeed.
8. What advice do you have for young women who would like to start their career in tech/digital?
Women are the future of technology. So start now. GO FOR IT!
I remember when I started my startup a few years ago. Nobody was really in the tech space in Nigeria then and it looked like it was just going to be ‘oof’ and ‘poof’. Trust me, from the very first day, I had clients because I was a woman. It holds a lot of advantages, as it’s a place to be heard, a place to be seen, and a place to be given opportunities.
Around the world, it’s not that way yet, but if we want to win, you are the one that needs to be equipped today, for the next generation of women to win. It’s a very great privilege to be taught and teach what’s been taught. In this space, you’re challenged a lot and there are very many opportunities. If you’re someone that likes to communicate like me, then build portals for the customer, you can carry out tests and give feedback to the business in a way that helps you speak for the customer. No matter what aspect of Tech you are in, you can go beyond, tap into gender super power and stand out!
You would always find relevance in tech. You don’t have to be a nerd to go into tech. You just need to know how to use technology for the things you are passionate about, create solutions and learn how to convert.
Content Development, Content Writing, Programming Language Writing, and Code Development, are easier for us because we’re women and we understand people. We nurture people, so we know better! We know how to develop products, not for machines, but for people to use. It’s a great advantage to be a woman and use our womanhood to improve and inspire the community we live in.
It starts with us positioning ourselves with the right skills. Digital is the next level. What are you doing today to get there?
I say go for it. Bring it home for the team!