Years in Tech
Media Manager, Paystack
Multimedia storytelling. Over my time working in the Nigerian tech ecosystem, I’ve collaborated with multiple key players to craft their narrative through visual media. At the top of that list are most notably Andela and Paystack. Helping people form emotional connections to these brands is a major accomplishment from my time working with them.
14th December 2018
Mohini Ufeli is a Media Manager at Paystack, a technology company powering payments for businesses in Africa. Prior to Paystack, she spent over three years wearing many hats at Andela, which shared the common thread of helping to tell the Andela story.
With an educational background in English and Multimedia Journalism, Mohini’s passion lies in exploring the evocative powers of visual media to change perspectives.
What experiences led you to technology and how did you develop the skills to compete in the industry?
I fell into Nigeria’s tech scene purely by serendipity. I had “just got back” from college in 2014. I’d studied English as my major and Journalism, Media and Public Discourse as my minor. All along the way I’d been building up a side career in photography and video. About a month in, a friend I’d just made through a networking site sent me the link to a twitter post, where someone was looking for a photographer to do headshots. I realized I’d met this person back in Uni, and I reached out to offer my services. This was Iyin and this was to be the first set of official photos of Andelan developers. After a series of conversations that led to him almost cancelling the shoot because they were no longer looking to pay for it, I offered to do it for free (I had the time and we had good friends in common), so I went in to the office one day.
While I was there, I ended up meeting the then-CTO, who was also a photographer. We connected over storytelling and he told me they were looking for someone to tell the Andela story. They already had someone in mind that they were talking to. I let him know that if it didn’t work out with that person, he should let me know. I was hired about two weeks later. That’s how I started out at this life-changing company that has grown from about 40 people when I joined, to over 500 when I left, three years and nine months later.
At Andela I got to really fuse my official education in journalism and storytelling, with my multimedia practice. Running social media at the beginning, creating visual stories that would attract employees – both developers and staff, and also Andela partners. In my time at Andela, I got to meet a lot of other company owners in the ecosystem, and work with them in my free time. For me, it was a matter of putting in solid work over the years and building out a really solid portfolio of experiences. The work speaks for itself, and now I’m excited to be doing it again, with a lot more experience, and at a different level, at Paystack.
How has your background helped/differentiated you in the tech industry?
There are a few factors that I believe set me apart. 1. There’s a certain mindset I cultivated as a result of coming from a US university. That’s not to say that Nigerians working at a top tech company like Andela don’t have it, but that for me the transition into that environment was easier because I had a certain attitude around timeliness, excellence, integrity, ownership. These are things that professionals older and more established are still learning. And not to say that I’m perfect, but I’m aware that these are attributes to aspire to. These are attitudes that the Nigerian environment doesn’t easily foster. That’s one.
There aren’t a lot of women doing what I do. That’s broken down into me being a woman, and at the same time, possessing the refined skillset that I have developed. So, in the early days of my career, I used to shoot a lot of events. So I got a lot of comments like, “wow, you’re a woman photographer? Keep it up!” People didn’t see a lot of women photographers out and about. And I must have carried myself well because of that was that to them I looked competent and professional, like I knew what I Was doing. So over time, I built a reputation as a tech photographer, and it’s through that “seeing Mohini everywhere” that people would reach out and ask me to cover events. It’s also how I built my network here and how come I’ve worked with the companies that I have – She Leads Africa, Starta, Hotels.nd, Ingressive, Cafe Neo, Harambe, TechCabal, Paystack before they hired me, and a number of others. And my work is standard. As good as any you’d find anywhere in the world, and I’m constantly learning.
What advice would you give to women considering a career in technology? What do you wish you had known?
There are a few factors that I believe set me apart.
There are a few things I’d tell women considering a career in technology.
- You don’t have to be technical to be in tech. I’m a photographer and here we are today. There are lots of other competencies that support the tech ecosystem – Finance, HR, Communications etc. If you find that you possess those, and you’re interested in breaking into the industry, by all means reach out to tech companies that might need your services.
- Own your voice, you have value and perspective to add to the conversation. In past situations I’ve found myself hesitant to enter conversations because I’ve thought, “what do you know” – I’m sometimes a shy person and can doubt myself. I’ve also read in research that this is a thing many women face. Over the years, in the times when I’ve spoken up to add my perspective, I’ve found that I’ve added color and perspective to conversations, that could otherwise have gone unrecognized. Tech in Nigeria is largely dominated by men, and the situation is largely the same around the world. For me, that has been an additionally intimidating factor. So rather than question what I have to add, I ask myself what’s the worst that can happen, while at the same time recognizing that my voice has value, and I’ve been invited to that space for a reason. So, own your voice.