She is young, self-driven and passionate about software development! @iLabAfrica caught up with Mercy Orangi and had a chance to chat with her about her passion for software development as a young lady in the male-dominated field.
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Mercy Orangi. I am a master’s student in Strathmore University studying Mobile Telecommunication and Innovation at the Safaricom academy. I am also the chapter co-coordinator for the Nairobi Google Developers Group (GDG Nairobi). I love tech especially developing software on the Android platform.
What is the Google Developers Group and how did you get involved?
The Google Developers Group (GDG) is a worldwide community of software developers who are passionate about Google technology. We have Chapters of the group in major cities across the globe. We also have university chapters.
I learnt about GDG when I was doing my undergraduate at Kenyatta University. I got interested and founded the KU Chapter. After finishing my undergraduate studies I joined GDG Nairobi the only non-campus GDG in Kenya, and started as a volunteer. That was last year April. There was only one organizer at the time, Antony Nandaa who became my mentor. My work involved looking for speakers, informing other members of the next meetup and facilitating discussions. I found this very interesting and continued working in the group. When Nandaa left for C4D Lab in University of Nairobi I took over as the Chapter coordinator.
What does GDG Nairobi do?
GDG Nairobi is one of the most active GDG Chapters in Africa. We hold monthly meetups where we come together to learn and share knowledge about Google Technologies. We also work with our mentors from Google Africa and Google HQ in Mountain View California who from time-to- time join us via video conferencing. They share their expertise and experience with members of the group. We expose developers to latest Google technologies and train them on how to utilize them e.g. the Google App Engine, Google Maps and so on.
One of the projects we working on at the moment is making Android content offline. We are distributing the content to members of the GDG group. GDG Nairobi has the kit.
Where and When Does GDG Nairobi Meet?
We meet at the iHub on a monthly basis on the third Saturday or Sunday of the month in the Afternoons. We also engage online and you can find us at www.gdgnairobi.info which is your go-to site for anything GDG related in Nairobi.
You were recently sponsored by Google on a fully-paid trip to the US. Tell us more about that trip and how you got chosen.
It was an awesome experience, first time in the US but second time in International Google Office. I had the chance to visit Google UK office last year when I was in my first year of study for my master’s degree. It was also an organizers summit for three days.
Every year Google sponsors active leaders of a GDG Chapter to attend the annual GDG Summit. This is an event where GDG chapters from across the world come together to share experiences and ideas on how to improve GDG Chapters. It was a great networking and learning experience for me.
During the trip I also got to attend the Google I/O an annual conference for Google software developers. This was a great achievement for me as I got to interact first-hand with the actual software developers who come up with Google products and services. I also got to learn more about the Google culture and had a good time networking with one of the best software engineers in the world.
What is your vision for Women in Technology and how is GDG helping you achieve this?
My vision is to empower more women in tech by ensuring they get access to relevant powerful resources for software. I want them to be aware of freely available resource such: as Code School, Android Hive and Code Academy which can help them develop software development skills.
I also want to develop a network of women mentors in tech to encourage women all over Kenya to venture into the tech world. I envision a Kenya with more women at the fore front of the tech ecosystem.
At GDG we have GDGW which is Google Developer Group for Women. We have had two successful meetups so far. Most of the members are freelancers and women in campus. The meetings can be technical or otherwise. Women who come to GDGW meetings are inspired when they see other women who are doing great things. This is having a very positive effect in the number of women attending the larger GDG Nairobi.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In five years I am certain that I will be driving change in the tech space in Kenya. A career in software development is definitely nearer in sight for me as I have the skills and the passion for it. Even though the trajectory might change I foresee a long and fulfilling career in the IT world in different capacities.