Years in Tech
Country Director at Alter Global / Founder, Afriquette
I’m an engineer, designer, and product manager, but in all these, I’m a person who gets excited about building the future and cares deeply about understanding people, patterns, and cultures. As someone who’s worked in just about every node of the product development process, I pride myself in turning empathy into insights and bringing cross-disciplinary teams together to create magic.
14th December, 2018
I’m Dara Oke, a creator and technologist who believes that the future we get, is the one we build. I spend my days working with startups that are building for a better world and my evenings finding ways to tell stories. I’m passionate about the technologies that are redefining and expanding the range of our human experience.
My happy place is where form meets function and I’ve had the opportunity to build at this intersection, working in both Software Engineering and Product at some awesome technology companies like Twitter, Intel, and more recently, Microsoft.
What experiences led you to technology and how did you develop the skills to compete in the industry?
I started teaching myself programming around the age of 9, not knowing at the time that this hobby would one day lead me to my career. Years after, I would go on to study Computer Science after realizing that working in technology could provide me the gateway to contribute to social progress and global advancement.
My degree taught me how to think more than it did how to code. Through my various internships and jobs, I was able to become a better engineer, product manager, or designer by throwing myself at stretch assignments and leveraging my community and mentors.
How has your background helped/differentiated you in the tech industry?
Design and art were my first loves. Starting my career as a Software Engineer, I constantly felt torn between two worlds. In retrospect, being equally left and right brained has always been my secret weapon — it just took me years to realize how to harness it.
What advice would you give to women considering a career in technology? What do you wish you had known?
The innovation ecosystem desperately needs more women, desperately needs you. There are profound gaps in the kind of products being built, who they’re built for, and how customers are understood. There are products and companies that don’t exist, but should. And there’s a lot of opportunity to disrupt that and to build things that you have a unique advantage to create given your identities.
I wish I had learned to appreciate my individuality and femininity earlier in my career, rather that trying to fit into what I thought an engineer should be. I started to create real value when I let go of these weights and focused instead on owning my truth and identity.
Any other thoughts on women in technology?
Whatever you’re passionate about, especially if it’s building what you want to exist in our world, don’t let anyone or anything stop you from that. Find your superpowers, find your passions, and find ways to make those work for you. There’s space for you, and you owe it to yourself and the world to carve that space if you haven’t seen it being done before.