Let’s meet you.
I am Oluwamurewa Alao. I am a frontend mobile developer. I am a goal-driven person and I would describe myself as a mix of an introvert and an extrovert. I have a wild sense of humor. And I like to laugh a lot. Laughter is like my default response to most situations. I don’t like unnecessary stress and I do anything that I can do to avoid unnecessary stress. I like hanging out with my friends. I enjoy having a good time when I am chanced. I like football. I love formula 1. Formula 1 is a car racing competition. And I also love music a lot.
So do you love driving?
Ehmm, not in Lagos. I can’t really drive though. The only time I tried driving, I crashed. For now, I am not ready to learn, I am too lazy for that.
Why? Are you afraid?
No, fear keh. It’s just laziness. I will rather stay in bed pressing my phone or my laptop than learning how to drive.
When you said you don’t like unnecessary stress, what stress can you classify as unnecessary?
For example, if there is something I have to do now and I know that not doing it on time will cause me extra stress, I did rather do it on time to avoid unnecessary stress. Or if I need to go to a place, especially in this Lagos I do all my possible best to avoid Lagos traffic. (It looks like Lagos has shown you pepper). Lol, it has o.
I was trying to check for your number on WhatsApp, but I didn’t see your name. What I saw was Venom, please can you tell us how the nickname came about?
It came about in my second year at the University. It’s just popped up from people. There was this particular phase in my life then, I was very harsh with words. It was as a result of this that the name popped up. If anybody fuck up, I go give them straight on the spot. I don’t do it indirectly. If I want to sub you, I will sub you directly. I am a straightforward person, I don’t have the time of cutting through corners. But at the same time, I say it with sense.
Do you put other people’s feelings into consideration while subbing them?
Ahh, I do. People have feelings and I do not like to hurt people’s feelings. This was even one of the reasons I had to adjust after my second year. What I don’t want people to do to me, I won’t do to them. This is one of my principles.
Let’s come down to work lane a little, what do you do at Digital Abundance?
I am a front-end engineer at Digital Abundance. Currently, I am mainly in charge of DABA school website. I built the front end for it and I also manage it. I work on the new features that are to be added to it. I also help out with other projects like the Cryptohub, and DABA kids as well.
For the sake of a newbie, what does frontend development means?
Frontend development is the visible part you interact with directly on any website. Because for every website, there is always a frontend and a backend. But the part the user interacts with directly such as the buttons, links, input details, and search engines are the things associated with frontend development.
How long have you been working with Digital Abundance?
This month makes it nine months. I started with Digital Abundance in January 2022.
Let’s take this quick lane. How do you feel whenever Moski calls you out during the meeting hours?
(Laughs) Because of my nature as an introvert, anytime he calls on me I am always on the spot and I get tensed. But I always try to calm myself down, I don’t like getting worked up. And then I try to analyze the situation before giving a response. Sometimes the calling out is justified or maybe it’s just something that needs to be clarified or something that I need to do. I try to understand where he is coming from and also see from my view so that we can meet at a point and move forward.
Lol, I just had to ask because of the way he calls out the engineers.
(Laughs)Sometimes Moski doesn’t understand us, so we just have to explain and make things clear to him.
Are you a remote or an on-sight staff?
Yes, I work as an on-sight staff for 2days and then remotely for the other days.
So working as both an on-sight and a remote staff how has it been?
Ahh, I enjoy working remotely o. And this is why I like the product team, very welcoming and accommodating team.
How did you start your journey into programming?
When I was in JSS 3, I started developing an interest in web development. My mom noticed my interest and she got a computer at home. So I started trying out some nonsense things on it, playing around with it. My computer teacher in school was also quite helpful. He showed me a few things. I was just doing it for the fun of it and after secondary school, I dropped it for a while. I got admitted into the university, and I studied computer science. I was thinking they would teach us about programming, but they didn’t teach us anything.(laughs)
So in my second year, I got a laptop and I was learning the basic things about programming. After then I went for my IT in 2018, and I picked it seriously. In the first month, they threw a project at me. I was even very scared that I just started learning this whole thing and you guys are already throwing me into a real-world project. From this project, I started learning real-world use, and I just kicked off properly from there Since then, I haven’t looked back.
So are you trying to say that you weren’t so confused as a beginner because you have always had an interest in programming?
Ahh, no. There were times I would ask myself if I really want to do this. And sometimes I would run into problems and doubt myself if I wanted to do this or make even a profession out of it. My first freelance gig was at the end of 2018, a master’s student then in my school told me he needed a portal for his project and he hired me. He paid me about 150,000 naira. I executed it so well and I doubt if the guy knew that he was my first client. And I still keep in touch with him till now. This became a big motivation for me, it gave me a level of assurance about my coding skills. It’s not like I haven’t been stuck since then, but I always find my way through it and it has been good ever since.
Over the years, from 2018 till now, what has been sustaining you? Basically, what keeps you moving?
I think it’s a mix of passion and reward. When I just started, tech wasn’t as big as this in Nigeria, there wasn’t much noise around it. But now thinking about it, I am doing what I like, and I am making money from it, which I don’t think a lot of people have such opportunity. So I am just grateful that I like what I am doing. If it is just because of the reward, I am sure I would have gotten tired of it and would have looked for another thing to be engaged in.
Over the years, from 2018 till now, what has been sustaining you? Basically, what keeps you moving?
I think it’s a mix of passion and reward. When I just started, tech wasn’t as big as this in Nigeria, there wasn’t much noise around it. But now thinking about it, I am doing what I like, and I am making money from it, which I don’t think a lot of people have such opportunity. So, I am just grateful that I like what I am doing. If it is just because of the reward, I am sure I would have gotten tired of it and would have looked for another thing to be engaged in.
How would you advise a person that picked an interest in software engineering to start out their journey?
This is even something that crosses my mind a lot of times because I try to bring people into tech. The main thing for me is not to get into tech for money, don’t even try it. Because if you are going into tech for money, you will get tired and frustrated when your expectations aren’t met. And then you will start disliking it and doubting your abilities.
So, the best thing for a newbie to do is to build interest and fall in love with what he/she is doing. And once the person starts making money from it, the motivations will start coming forth. Building communication skills are also important but I didn’t learn this on time because I am an introvert.
I realized that when you talk to people, you realize that your own struggles and problems are similar to theirs. And this gives you the opportunity to relate with them more, find solutions to the problems, and also create a bond with them. Creating bonds with people you can call always on whenever you are stuck is very essential. This is something I also do here at work.
As a programmer, tell us the best and the worst project you have ever worked on.
(laughs) I might be a little bit biased though, I have two favorite projects: the DABA web and a saving/investment app that I am working on, it’s just a fun project. Then for my worst project, I once worked on a property/listing website, the client was a very difficult person, always changing things and he wasn’t going to pay me much for the project. He would visit heavy websites to pick up things he would like me to implement on his own website. I would tell him that the websites he is picking from were built with millions and he can’t pay that money. This project wasn’t meant to be more than one to two months, but it dragged on for a year.
When it comes to handling a new project, what is your process like?
Firstly, I like to get the full brief on the project so as have an idea of what we are trying to achieve, and this will include the available resources, the design, the timeline, and also the documentation. I also think of the tool that is best for the job. If there will be any limitations, I raise them up, except if there are ways, I can work around them. From there, I move into the designs even before talking about the functionality.
Why do developers and designers always have this back-and-forth about the issue of design and implementation?
(Laughs) Well, some designers design like cultists. Sometimes they just do crazy design. Creating design is easier compared to when you are using codes to implement it, and sometimes they don’t get that. When you try to explain some things to them, they won’t get it. However, as a person, I try to implement the designs as close as they appear to be pixel perfect. If there is any design that the implementation is not going to be possible, I say it out immediately. But at the same time, when you try to explain that they won’t understand. And as for me, it has gotten to that point where I don’t even want to explain again. I will just tell them to open their laptops and code it by themselves. But at the end of the day, it’s just bants. And also, while implementing we have to consider all multiple devices like desktops, tablets, mobile phones. Even no code platforms run into issues with things like this sometimes.
Asides from coding, what else do you?
Most of the time, I code all day long and all night long because I do both web and mobile. So, finding time for other things is quite hard. Recently this year, I stopped doing excess work on weekends. Now I don’t even like people touching my weekends, my weekends are for me. I have been using the weekends to rest, hang out and have fun, just to ensure that I don’t have issues with burnout. I experienced it one time like that and it was really bad, for about a month I didn’t want to go near my laptop at all.
Although there was a time that I got interested in having my personal clothing brand, maybe I will still revisit it and as well as branded shoes. I love shoes and I have a lot of sneakers. I posted it recently on WhatsApp status that I have enough shoes. But it’s a lie, I will see someone’s status and still buy it. I know something will still pop up along the way because I keep developing an interest in new things.
How do you handle burnout and work stress? Most especially the burnout you mentioned previously.
For the first week, I wasn’t doing anything, just eating, pressing my phone, and sleeping. I was just very lazy. Then I tried dragging myself out to hang out with friends. I tried getting back on track. What helped me come out of this entirely was when a new version of the software I use, react came out and I wanted to see the new features that were added. From there I got interested again and I threw myself back into it. Naso, I entered into the recycle back. The cause of the burnout was because I was really overworking myself and also working overnights.
How do you draw the line between your personal life and your work life?
Number 1: Don’t do office works on weekends. If I am working on weekends, it will probably be my personal projects.
Number 2: Anytime I have a task, especially when I get the task early in the week, I try to finish my main tasks on Mondays and Tuesdays, then the remaining days in the week will be for light works
And for my weekends, I relax a lot and also try to improve on myself I also watch YouTube. I try to get content that can make me laugh. I also go to Twitter, when it’s not too toxic.
On a scale of 1-10, rate yourself on how balanced your work-life relationship is.
I would say 6 because I know that there is still room for improvement especially for my outdoor activities.
Has there been any time in your life where you felt that coding is actually taking away your entire life and you just want to find something else to do?
Hmm, I don’t think so and this is why liking what you do comes into play.
Over the years how have you been able to sustain hunger? I am not referring to the hunger for food, but the hunger for knowledge, for growth.
Okay, I think this comes down to understanding something about tech. In tech, you can’t stop learning and you can’t afford to stop learning. If you stop learning, you get left behind immediately because things are constantly developing. Various methods to do things are surfacing. Also, excitement to learn more and looking forward to the next thing you can add to yourself plays a role. It also comes down to placing more value on yourself, because in tech, the more things you can do better, the higher your value becomes.
How have you been able to manage people especially when you have a task to deliver as a team?
The way I interact with people is that I don’t try to see only from my own angle, I try to see from their angle, and also from a neutral angle. I think combining these 3 together in a way helps me to have an idea of how to approach things and tasks at hand because people aren’t the same, but I know that we can always try to reach a compromise.
And also trying to have fun at work comes into place here. When you have a good relationship with your colleagues, working with them becomes easier. For example, it is very easy to relate with Michael, the CTO we laugh a lot, and we joke a lot. In fact, I think everyone in the Product team relate well, and this alone helps to get things done. Even when we are under pressure, during meeting periods, someone would just burst out laughing. The major people that I know that they try to make things very lively in the meeting are Michael and Chidera. Chidera is a very fun person, and he also knows when to get serious. When he is serious, he is very serious, and this is why I like him. It’s not just about being serious every time, laughing with us also eases the tension and stress of work.
On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think you have been able to meet up with the given deadlines?
Well, this is a tricky question. But most of the time, if it is left to me, I know that I am most likely to make 8 out of 10 because I like getting things done on time. But in the process of working with people, things might not fall into place on time. So I will just say 6.5 out of 10.
So Murewa, what is that one thing that people do not know about you?
I watch a lot of cartoons, from normal cartoons to adult cartoons on Netflix. Cartoons like family guy, I think this is one of the things the people at Digital Abundance do not know about me.
Wrapping up, what do you have to say to the product team?
Product team is very easy target for other departments, we get attacked a lot. But I know that we work our asses off, we are hardworking, and I just want us to keep moving like this, relating with ourselves the way we have been doing. And also see the other areas where we can get better.
For Digital Abundance as a whole, what do you have to tell us?
It’s been an exciting journey and cheers to more time together. I look forward to journeying together as long as possible.
And we have come to the end of this session, thank you for your time!