University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana - BSc Geology
University of Glasgow, Scotland - MSc Information Technology
For as long as she can remember, Ugochi Nicole Ugbomeh has had a strong interest in coding and computers. A software enthusiast, she always found herself building and repairing programs, but a hesitation caused her to study geology rather than pursue work in IT. But even as an undergrad, her friends knew her as the “computer fix-it girl.”
Ugochi found her second chance, however, when as a grad student she pursued her love of information technology. She especially loves front-end Web languages, HTML5 and CSS3 because they give her the opportunity to communicate ideas and understand the development aspect of programs.
Currently, Ugochi is a performance analyst in a customer experience company by day and co-founder of Interactive Shack by night (and weekends), a company that aims to build beautiful and interactive Internet solutions. Through Interactive Shack, she’s had the chance to build a sound-based navigational map system, worked with a team on a Twitter widget and numerous websites and Java projects—and what’s probably known as her biggest career achievement to date: Nigeria’s first online taxi booking service with more than 200 licensed cabs currently registered on the platform. TaxiPark, which was selected as one of the 14 startups to pitch at the SeedStars event in Lagos, Nigeria, is a Web and mobile application that allows both passengers and drivers a more reliable, user-friendly and safe way to move around their city.
“I’m fortunate to be passionate about what I do, because it never feels like work,” Ugochi says. “I get paid to hang out with my computer and create things using beautiful languages.”
So many people are of the opinion that women and IT are worlds apart, so to me, this is a journey to prove them wrong.
What's it like to be a co-founder? What responsibilities do you have in your job?
In a nutshell, I’m a Web developer who’s responsible for technical research, thinking up ideas and acquiring and adapting existing technologies. I also deal with all documentation and testing of Interactive Shack’s core technologies before deployment.
At what point did you realize that a job in this career field was right for you?
I’ve always had a passion for IT—Human Computer Interactions (HCI) and basically how computers work. Initially, my indecisions led me to study different courses, but my interest in IT was always there. When I finished my undergraduate studies, I finally decided to pursue my interest with everything I had. I’ve had no regrets since. So many people are of the opinion that women and IT are worlds apart, so to me, this is a journey to prove them wrong.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I know people usually have one favorite; in my case, I have two.
The first is testing/debugging. It allows me to see what’s been created from a user's perspective. It's also the only way one can find errors and make room for improvements.
The other is planning/management. Why? This is the beginning of any idea and the formation of what you want it to look like. It involves wireframes (mock-ups), requirements, surveys, deciding the core functionalities—to name a few.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
How to make a change/solve a problem with technical innovation in Nigeria, Africa or even the world. It all starts from somewhere.
The growth of the company.
And financial challenges (I believe everyone has these).
What keeps you going?
It spurs me on when people have doubts about my ideas or abilities. When I conceived Taxi Park, almost everyone scoffed, until my partners saw and shared my vision. My career is panning out now and I'm extremely optimistic and excited about the future.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Right now, yes. Because I have a regular 9-to-5 job, am taking professional courses and work with my partners to build Taxi Park Nigeria and Interactive Shack Ltd. The balance is my "weekend.” If I have things to do for the company, I do them over the weekend. That way I try to have all sides covered. I still carve out time to have a normal personal and social life, which includes running, swimming, sightseeing, reading, drawing and the occasional social outings with friends and family.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
When the Taxi Park idea became a reality.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Always dream big.
Follow your passion, no matter how shallow people think it is.
Believe that with God, all things are possible.
Dress how you want to be addressed.
Always listen to the other sides of the story before making a conclusion.
Your brain can take you to the top, but your character/attitude will keep you there.
Good things come to those who wait, but better things come to those who go looking for great things.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
It takes drive, passion, patience, attention to detail, open-mindedness and analytical and critical thinking.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
When you know you have a passion for something, don’t ignore it.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Back in my home country (Nigeria), working for myself, making a difference by building more ideas through technical innovation and turning them into reality.