Meet Team Kwara: Anthony, Software Engineer

Lewis Kang'ethe Ngugi

Team Kwara

Much of the work that goes into linking together the world of design and technology of our SACCO management platform happens behind the scenes. At Kwara, creating the environment for everything that SACCO users see, click, and touch on our digital banking platform for SACCOs while driving efficiency, speed, and smooth functionality —is largely the role of the software engineer.

Meet Anthony Ioimo, Software Engineer of Kwara. He's an alumnus of the Stanford, a mathematician, yogi, and enthusiastic problem solver. His personal experiences in Operations influenced his career trajectory. We sat down with him to hear the full story.

How would someone describe you?

I imagine it depends on who you ask. I take myself for a curious, detail-oriented, and somewhat nerdy person. I value honesty and I tend to think results speak for themselves.

So you're Stanford alumni? What was studying there like, and what is the relation to software engineering you are doing now?

My path to software engineering was not a straight line. I studied Mathematics at Stanford and this was, how should I say, very hard. I have never been more challenged than in these classes. I was impressed by the theoretical beauty of this topic, but truth be told, I longed for something a bit more tangible. Computer science and software development felt much more constructive: you could build things! In retrospect, I might have changed directions right then and there, but the way it happened, it took me a few more years before I decided to change course and retrain as a developer. Otherwise, at Stanford, I can say I had a lot of fun, met many ambitious and talented people, and it was the embarkation of a lifelong journey that I am still on today. 

So, you had all these experiences in Operations from your previous work. Why the shift?

I loved the problem-solving aspect of operations, and learned an unbelievable amount in my previous role, including a lot of soft skills I would be woefully lacking otherwise (ha). A lot of my responsibilities were to help streamline the business processes and thinking through the details of how the business would accomplish its goals. In coming up with solutions, I worked closely with a team of devs who would actualize these plans. Although I liked what I was doing, I couldn’t help but wish I was the one who could be programming these tools. It looked fun and rewarding to me, and I was inspired to pursue it. 

What got you interested in software development?

It was a budding interest many years in the making. As a kid, one of my friends and I would program simple games using Visual Basic. I loved it! It felt creative and the possibilities endless. Later I took the intro to Computer Science course at Stanford and was just amazed at the power of programming. That class barely scratched the surface, but it was enough to plant the seed that this is something that I wanted to do. 

How did you come to work in the fintech space?

I had a very good impression of Kwara during the hiring process and when I got my offer I was very excited to join.

Anthony Ioimo Software Engineer Kwara Google Launchpad Africa

When talking with other software developers I have the feeling that there’s no standard definition of software development. How do you interpret your role as a Software Engineer in your company?

There are lots of aspects to the role. We are equal parts builders, maintainers, and (sometimes) designers. Of course, developing (programming) new features is our primary task, on another level we are responsible for reasoning through the logic of the app and making sure it is consistent. That is what attracts me to the role so much. 

What’s it like to work as a developer in a startup? What are the best parts and what do you struggle with?

The best part is that we all have a voice in the decision-making process; because we are still a relatively small team, our structure isn’t too compartmentalized. I like being involved in the design process and product discussions. That said, sometimes I miss more structure that might come from a longer-established organisation. 

What have you been working on lately that you are excited about?

One of our goals is to make the SACCO onboarding process more smooth, and lately, we have been developing an automated test that verifies all the configurations are correct. What once might have taken hours and a lot of nerves can soon be done automatically in a few minutes or less. This kind of direct performance boost is very exciting to me. 

If you weren’t an engineer, what would you want to be? 

What an impossible question! I think in another life I would have been a dancer. 

What inspires you to keep going?

I love learning new things and challenging myself. I am grateful that my work rarely seems boring. 

You always develop yourself and learn from mistakes. You would leave Kwara a better person than when you came in. You are curious about new ideas and practices. You try to understand the why. You have a generally curious outlook on life. You search for answers outside the box. You are willing to try new things.

“Beating the competition is relatively easy. Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.” - NikeAlways Be Learning

Where do you see Kwara in the next year?

If the current trend continues I see Kwara becoming the obvious choice for many more SACCOs in Kenya, and possibly even abroad. 

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