Sep 20, 2021
5 mins read
Earlier this year, we spoke to Amanda, a data scientist from Nigeria and the Executive Director of STEMi Makers Africa.
1. Introduce yourself, who are you, and what do you do?
Hi, My name is Amanda Obidike from Nigeria. I am a Data Scientist, Technologist and the Executive Director of STEMi Makers Africa. My work centres on strengthening competencies, particularly in STEM and digital literacy, for youths, to effectively transition from education to employment so that they can excel and become more experienced for Africa's workforce.
As a Data Scientist, I help businesses determine their profitability and make better decisions in penetrating new markets for business growth.
Outside of work, I love to improve children's and teenager’s reading literacy in marginalized Communities. I designed a library that serves as a space for their project-based activities, after-school program, reading hub, and design sessions in understanding leadership and moral values.
2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?
Being a Data Scientist and passionate about STEM Education was never what I envisaged. I have a Masters in Business Administration; an Associate Degree in Economics, a Degree in Business Administration with no prior experience in Science.
Globally, the number of jobs in STEM fields increased 36% from 10.2 million in 2008 to 26.5 million jobs in 2014, yet there are over 80.6 million under-skilled West Africans who can not embrace STEM opportunities in the continent due to lack of talents.
I was part of this metric narrative as an under-skilled woman after graduating from the University. I was depressed and de-motivated. The lucrative jobs of the future required technical competence and 21st-century skills that I didn't have. Nigeria began to transfer major Resources and job opportunities to skilled professionals and expatriates due to a lack of competent and domestic STEM workforce.
Seeing this economic disparity, I began to research the new labor market skills that youths like me can successfully thrive in. I got an opportunity to be trained by IBM in Business Intelligence/Analytics after 8 months. Upon completion, I took the initiative to serve as a knowledge panel in preparing Africans with 21st-century skills and future-focused options for an emerging workforce.
3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings?
My role at STEMi Makers Africa requires providing leadership, strategy management and overseeing the design and implementation of sustainable Community projects and STEM Education across 19 African countries in preparing the next generation of Africans with STEM lucrative skills. I love this role because it's an everyday opportunity to see young talents matching new standards in our designed community programs. The warm reception of implementing communities, feedbacks from beneficiaries encouraged me to look forward to another day of doing better.
4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a story?
Stress is inevitable but sometimes it offers us the motivation we need to succeed. Oftentimes, work can become so overwhelming for me. One personal cure is taking time out for self-care.
Last year when COVID-19 struck, it changed the nature of work (e.g virtual meetings, less travel, exploring communication and project tools, etc). I started experiencing Zoom fatigue and being unnecessarily tired. I realized that if I didn't keep a tab of my time, I would one day break down.
So on a daily basis, I design a 'to-do' list and I map out 1 hour every 6 hours, take a nap or read a book. It helped me accomplish more while factoring in my mental health.
5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?
Yes, I do have a role model.
Jesus Christ is my best role model I could ever choose because He is perfect in every way the Bible tells us. He is God’s loving Son and came to earth to save us all. Ephesians 5: 1-2 says, “Do as God does. After all, you are His dear children. Let love be your guide. Christ loved us and offered His life for us as a sacrifice that pleases God.” Jesus died to save us and please His Father God. He is the perfect role model because of His love for all of us — so much so that He gave Himself upon the cross, so we could be forgiven our sins. He healed people of whatever they needed wherever He went and showed them what it really meant to love.
6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time?
Love yourself more and appreciate your little wins.
Take that risk, for in the end, you either win or you learn.
7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM?
For every girl starting out in STEM, I would advise living intentionally with a clear focus and purpose. There should be a conscious attempt to set goals for self-improvement and development; whether weekly, monthly and yearly goals. These goals should also be able to align with your passion and dream to use STEM for the social good.
Another tip is mentoring and networking. Feel free to reach out to women and peers you admire in STEM and connect with them. Ask questions. Follow their work and learn from their stories/experiences.
Finally, be open to learning. You can't know it all. Life is a learning process itself. For every mistake or accomplishment or challenge, ask yourself what is the one thing I learned.
8. How do you measure your success?
For me, success is about making a commitment to impact the lives of others. I measure success and accomplishments from the positive feedback I receive, referrals about our work at STEMi Makers Africa and testimonies from beneficiaries about internships, career and academic opportunities. It shows we are doing something that has made someone smile or moves one step ahead.
9. Where can we find out more about your work?
10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you?