What is your educational background?
I focused on Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Business Management in high school. I then obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Chemical Engineering with Business Management from the University of Birmingham in the UK. In my current role, I am working towards obtaining various data analytics certifications.
What is your current occupation?
I currently work as a Data Analyst for an Aerospace & Defence company in the UK. I am involved in many aspects of data analysis, including market, business, and M&A (Merge & Acquisition) data analysis. An example of one of my M&A related jobs is to analyse acquisition & divestment targets and create financial valuation models and forecasts.
What or who got you into STEM?
I have always loved science as a child, and I wasn’t good at much else, so I decided to stick to it! My father bought me my first encyclopedia when I was 6, and my grandfather gave me his copy of the first electronic Encyclopedia Britannica in the same year. These, along with my constant curiosity to understand how the world worked around me, fuelled my passion for STEM in my early years.
What is the biggest challenge/barrier you have faced as an African in STEM?
The biggest challenge for me was the lack of world-leading STEM institutions back home. The notion that someone who is educated abroad will have more opportunities pushed me to apply for further education in the UK. This comes with a whole new set of obstacles, including visa and financial challenges as an international student. Luckily, my good grades in school got me a scholarship at the University of Birmingham, which helped significantly.
How do you think your background/upbringing has been beneficial in your journey/career?
I was fortunate to have parents who pushed me to excel in school. They did everything they could to put me in the best schools they could afford. My father, coming from a STEM background himself (Electrical and Electronics Engineering from UCL), always pushed me to research and learn about anything and everything in a scientific and logical manner. Along with the fact that I ended up surrounding myself with like-minded friends, this has shaped my journey greatly.
How do you think we can start to change the narrative surrounding African contributions
to global STEM research & careers?
I think more can be done to introduce STEM to Africans at an early age. Working for an engineering company in the UK, I have visibility of the efforts that organisations make to support country-wide STEM schemes. These introduce children to STEM at very young ages and provide opportunities via valuable work shadowing experiences and apprenticeships. I think a collective effort, promoted by government and large institutions, could potentially expand the pool of STEM research and careers in Africa.
What advice would you like to give to young, aspiring Africans in STEM?
Surround yourself with like-minded, ambitious people. Build yourself a network of people with an interest in STEM and jump on every opportunity you get. And most importantly, never give up no matter how difficult the journey seems at the start. To quote a phrase from my good friend that stuck with me throughout my youth: “We always go again”.
Do you have any projects you’re working on that you would like us to highlight?
In the midst of the very many difficult COVID-19 challenges we are facing globally, one of the main issues is a lack of ventilators for critical cases. A consortium of industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, have come together to produce medical ventilators in the UK. My company is part of this consortium and we are providing critical components for the production, testing and programming of ventilators. I wanted to highlight this project to emphasise how important STEM is to humanity, and how important it is for us to come together to tackle global issues that we all face.