Guest post by Tarimin Kewa, 2014 Emerging Leader from Nigeria
The long awaited day had arrived and I finally settled into my apartment in Silicon Valley following a very long trip from Jos, Nigeria. I met my wonderful Moroccan roommate with whom I had been chatting on Facebook before arriving. Finally meeting her in person was delightful.
The first official activity was the Logistics Orientation for all of the Emerging Leaders, held at Symantec. One thing to note about Silicon Valley: big companies are really huge and can have several buildings so that you may have to even drive–not just merely walk–from one building to the other. Symantec is one of those big companies!
One of the speakers, Sheila Jordan, made a big impression on me on this day. She is the Chief Information Officer at Symantec, but interestingly, she didn’t start out studying or working in the technology field. She encouraged us to take responsibility for the path to our own successes, and she stressed how important it is for women realize that they can achieve success in a male dominated space if they are willing to work hard and show consistency in excellence, and the brand they choose to portray. She said, “Do not be afraid of asking for what you deserve, but plan for it.”
On the second day, we were hosted by Citrix for the Design Thinking Workshop. This was a practical session and ELs were divided into groups. As the sessions progressed, we began to see and learn practically how Silicon Valley and how innovative products and services are created. By thinking through the process and actually doing each step, I could see how the products I am providing in my own company can be modified and or changed completely to serve customers needs more effectively and efficiently, after all customers are why I’m in business!
Another highlight of the first week was Saturday, when all the TechWomen Emerging Leaders went on a city tour of San Francisco. Anyone entering the city will immediately notice the hilly terrain upon which all structures are built. Most buildings in the city are story buildings standing wall to wall. We started the journey to our marked destination – the Golden Gate Bridge! Along the way, we passed a variety of interesting sights of activities on the famous Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. We saw street performers, street artists, farmers’ markets, restaurants, shops, and various entertainment shows!
The moment our tour bus ‘officially’ got on the Golden Gate Bridge, there was thunderous cheering, clapping and shouting! Everyone was excited. Dubbed the most photographed bridge in the world, the view from that side of the bridge was exhilarating.
After a wonderful first week, I arrived at my host company. My host company is Coursera.org, a leading free online education provider. Before arriving to the United States, I had desired to work for a small startup – one that is growing – in order to learn how to take my small business and grow into a bigger venture. This was a perfect match for me. At my host company, my project goal is to craft a formal, comprehensive business plan to introduce, market, grow and “launch” Coursera in my country, Nigeria. This will be a new learning experience for me in that I am learning new skills in marketing technology services; this experience will enrich me with ideas and skills I can use to form a business strategy to develop new markets for my own business when I return. I found the company culture delightfully conducive for productivity. The environment and my team members at Coursera is warm and welcoming, very helpful, transparent, and also very eco-friendly!
I look forward to creating more memories in the coming weeks. Time permitting, I hope to do more interesting things, including hiking a trail near the Mountain View area, visiting more companies, going to the California Academy of Sciences, and watching an IMAX movie! After these first few weeks, I must say that the whole TechWomen team of organizers at the IIE as well as our Cultural and Professional Mentors, have made the beginning of this experience valuable, enjoyable, and enriching.
Tarimin has been an ICT capacity building specialist for more than eight years. She studied Computer Science and Information Technology and also holds a Diploma in Accounting, as well as certificates in specialized ICT courses. She has worked with various IT companies in the areas of software development, training, and project administration. She has carried out various capacity building projects for organizations throughout her country, including government agencies and higher educational institutions. In 2010, she registered her own small business, through which she continues to passionately carry out capacity building projects for the advancement of society. Tarimin is a proud native of Jos, Nigeria where she currently resides. In addition to Jos, she has also lived and worked in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. In her free time, Tarimin enjoys reading, sewing, and researching natural healthy alternatives to enrich life and promote longevity.