We Are Zone Series with Tobi Olusoga

Building The Future of Payments: A Software Engineer’s Journey of Growth and Progress

Oluwatobi Olusoga – Web3 Software Engineer

Q: Can you give us an overview of your career journey as a software engineer, from your early days in coding to where you are now? 

ANSWER: My career has a software engineer has been a quite rewarding and eventful one. So I started writing from year 1 in undergraduate days(2012), and started making money from it, by doing assignments for UNILAG computer engineering and fellow course mates. This coagulated into me venturing full time in Android App development in 2014, but I didn’t seek employment as a software engineer because I was already working full time as a Networking Engineer. I just kept building small personal apps and learning along the way. I guess I was just having fun, so I kept learning, & writing code just for fun, until I went back to school, graduated in 2018 Feb and started writing code professionally in 2018 June.

Q: What initially inspired you to pursue a career in software engineering, and how did you navigate the early stages of your career? 

ANSWER: As early as 2006 when I was in JSS2, I’d developed a strong affinity for everything and anything computers, I had always been a kid who was intrigued by technology, but in JSS2 I changed schools and in my new school the owner was a visionary, who was really passionate about computer education, so we had a computer lab filled with enough pristine looking desktops for each student in a class, and this was a rare thing back then. So, during computer education classes, every student had a dedicated desktop to work and practice with, at this point my interest in technology became more funneled towards computers and its inner workings. By the time we got to SS1, the proprietor built a new computer lab for student of the senior secondary classes, but guess what this new computer lab, had brand new Laptops not even Desktops unlike our former lab, and it was also designed as a one laptop per student lab, at this point I was sold out totally, and I knew I was going to pursue a career in either Software Engineering, Hardware Engineering, or Network Engineering. 

Q: What were some of the key challenges you faced as a software engineer, and how did you overcome them to progress in your career?

 ANSWER: Not having a mentor, and unstable electricity.

Q: Can you share some of the most significant milestones or accomplishments you’ve achieved along your software engineering career path? 

ANSWER: Getting to be a key part of the team that built the first Decentralized Switch in Africa and Mentoring a couple young graduates, who have gone on to great heights in this space. 

Q:How have you continued to grow and develop your skills as a software engineer throughout your career? 

ANSWER: Are there any particular learning resources or strategies that have been helpful to you? Most important is never shying away from challenging tasks or projects, no matter how daunting they seem, you’d always end up better off afterwards. Over the years, Medium Articles, YouTube and StackOverFlow has been my go-to learning resources.

Q: Have you worked on any particularly interesting or challenging projects throughout your career? If so, could you describe one and highlight what made it memorable or impactful? 

ANSWER: Yes definitely, more notable would be working on ZoneSwitch, which is a Decentralized Switch that facilitates payments and transfer of store of value, across several channels of use cases. What makes it memorable and impactful, is predominantly the fact that, it is a super audacious project that required the team to wade through murky and uncharted waters. But then seeing the current value and its far more wide reaching possible potential and impact, makes it all worth it.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring software engineers who are just starting their careers? Are there any specific steps or strategies you recommend for their professional growth and success? 

ANSWER: Software Engineering is HARD, let no one tell you otherwise, but then it really does worth it, I promise you. You’d need two things especially during your early stage learning curve and further down the line: GRIT, FOCUS & ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS.

Q:In your experience, what are some of the most valuable skills or qualities that have contributed to your success as a software engineer? 

ANSWER: Top of the list isn’t even technical expertise or know-how for me, because by de-facto a good software engineer should have that in their sack. Solid soft skills as a software engineer, will easily make you stand out from your peers, i.e., emotional intelligence, communication, critical thinking, time management, and open-mindedness. 

Q: Can you share any lessons or insights you’ve learned along your career journey that you believe would be beneficial for other software engineers to know? 

ANSWER: Don’t forget to log. No amount of time spent on properly thinking, architecting, and designing a solution properly, is a waste of time. Imposter Syndrome happens to even the best of the best.

Q:How do you approach problem-solving and finding innovative solutions as a software engineer? 

ANSWER: After identifying and defining problems to be solved, asking questions until your clarity of its requirements, almost rivals that of a crystal ball, works like a charm when trying to solve a problem. This makes the latter process of coming up with possible solutions, evaluating your options, identifying their pertinent strengths and weakness, settling for one amongst them and implementing, seamlessly great. And as you go through these steps iteratively always strive for excellence.

Q:Have you encountered any major setbacks or failures in your career, and how did you overcome them? 

ANSWER: Fortunately, or unfortunately, I haven’t. But as it is with life, challenges are always prime opportunities for one, to be come wiser and better, so pick yourself up every single time, go back to the board and figure out what went wrong. You owe that to yourself and those around you.

Q:How do you balance technical expertise with soft skills in your role as a software engineer? How important do you believe communication and collaboration are for success in this field? 

ANSWER: I try to balance this by trying to stay in touch and engage with the wider public, through any possible avenues, because this profession tends to cordon one away from life in itself at times. Like I said earlier on, I’m of the opinion that solid soft skills will make a software engineer easily stand out amongst their peers, and this can never be over emphasized.

Q: Can you discuss any notable mentors or influencers who have had a significant impact on your career? How have they shaped your professional growth and development?

ANSWER: This list is quite a long one for me, as I’ve been opportune to work with a myriad of talented and bright minds in my few years of experience, who have been a source of inspiration to me. Notable mentions would be Uche Elendu, Richard Ore, Wale Onawunmi, Muyiwa Ojetunde. A common denominator to what I’ve learnt from them all, is that one should always strive for excellence no matter what.

Q:What do you see as the future of software engineering, and how do you envision your role evolving in the coming years? 

ANSWER: For the future of software engineering I see advancements and breakthroughs, that will make Machine Learning, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science play a more central role, in virtually all systems. the world of soft.  Personally, I see myself evolving into managerial and leadership roles in the years to come.

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