Cavendish Mwangi, is the Director of Products at Analog Teams, a software development company where she oversees the development of products and working with a variety of departments to ensure that the end result provides consistent value to the end-user.
Born in Nyeri County in central part of Kenya. Cavendish got her first taste of software entrepreneurship after undergoing a one-year program at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Ghana, where she learned a lot about building and validating business ideas and software products.In a joint interview with Techmoran and Kenneth Awom , this is what she shared.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and where you grew up?
My name is Cavendish Mwangi. Am a twin and the only girl in a family of 5. I grew up in the Central part of Kenya namely Nyeri Town and that has been my home for many years till I ventured out to pursue job opportunities. My childhood was pretty active and engaging as I was taught life skills at a really young age. I took part in farming when I was young and that experience alone made me open minded to try out new things and pursue more interesting opportunities.
Growing up, what were your aspirations, and how have your goals and ambitions changed over time?
Growing up I really wanted to get into the legal side of things and become a lawyer. My aspirations changed right after high school when I got a chance to take some Cisco courses. My exposure to the tech field piqued my interest and I decided to pursue the same field in Uni by taking a course in cyber security. Post university, I bumped into software entrepreneurship and since then, I haven’t looked back.
What sparked your desire to enter the Software Development industry?
“While pursuing my degree in Computer Security and Forensics. I picked up an interest in programming and created a side hustle out of it. You know how University life is, one needs to survive, right?”
As a director of Products at Analog Teams, tell us more about the company and the products it offers.?
Analog Teams is a software development company situated in the US. Analog Teams scouts for job opportunities and provide qualified talent from Africa. Our team spans in a number of African countries namely Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana. Our core focus is building usable products and solving real life problems. We currently have 3 products we are working on and they are:
- Native Messenger – this is a messaging app targeted at facilitating group messaging and cross-border communication through message translation to multiple languages.
- Research Bookmark – a digital archive of UX Research knowledge that provides ux research resources to ux researchers globally. Our aim is to democratize ease of access to quality ux research information, helping researchers in the day-to-day practice.
- Polifresh – a poli-tech tool aimed at enabling citizens to understand political policies easily through our largest policy dictionary and insights from government and private companies policies.
Are there any products you’re working on currently and which are you excited to talk about?
“I’m currently working on three products. We have an app called NATIVE Messenger, with the app we were trying to create meaningful conversations and boost global collaboration. We are creating a solution that has merged WhatsApp and Slack features for businesses.
We are also introducing a translation feature, which I believe is going to facilitate cross-border communications. This means different people from different countries that speak different languages can be able to carry out businesses just because they’re using NATIVE Messenger to converse
The other product that I’m working on is Research Bookmark. With Research Bookmark we’re just looking into ways of really bringing in more users to the product, venturing into different partnership deals to make the product more accessible to specific groups of people globally.
We also have Polifresh. It’s essentially a platform that helps normal individuals like you and me to understand the policies that governments come up with. Understanding policies aren’t easy for a lot of citizens, Polifresh is meant to uncomplicate policies especially for people in the policy field, like Policy Analysts and Political Journalists.”
What are some of the challenges of building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
“Physical interaction is a challenge because we work remotely. It’s easier to check in with team members if we were in an actual office; at the end of the day, even though we are building products, we also need to look out for everyone’s well-being.”
How do you create a winning culture for your team?
A winning culture is about aligning interests and knowing when and how to involve team members in the building process. It’s about keeping them in the conversation and listening to their needs while ensuring you leave room for innovation. “To solve this challenge, we try to create a culture of productive meetings. Where we dictate what the agenda of the meeting is, and drill down to what the expectations of the team members are. Ensuring people do what they’re supposed to do, and they have enough time to carry out the tasks that they’ve been assigned.
What would you say was your first major success or big win in tech?
“Research Bookmark for sure.”
I learned a lot working on various projects immediately after I got settled in. I got a chance to wear different hats, get mentored, and be introduced properly into the UX research field.”
The reason I consider this a big win is simply this; an accessible and usable product that has an impact is the perfect definition of a successful product and Research Bookmark ticked all the boxes.
The IT industry is deemed to be male dominated; what are some of the challenges you have encountered as a female director?
I have encountered some challenges prior to becoming a director like chauvinistic male colleagues and the assumption I’m not conversant with different tech issues and subjects just because i’m a woman. I am fortunate to work as a director in an environment that mentors, protects and respects women. Most of my fellow directors are women and that goes to show that the company empower and appreciate female talent.
What do you think the IT industry especially in Africa needs to do to empower more women?
- Mentorship – Creation of more mentorship programs that take in female individuals and teach tech skills exposing them to existing tech job opportunities.
- Partnership – partnership with non-profit entities like girls-in-tech like provides sales training programs in high-tech industries.
- Incentives – The IT industry should provide education incentives to get more women into STEM
Looking at the startup ecosystem in Africa? Are there female-run startups that are gaining attention?
Yes. Just to name a few, there is Piggybank.ng by Odunayo Eweniyi, Jestream Africa by Miishe Addy and Bace Group by Charlette Desiree. There are many more that are rising and rising fast and the media should make an effort to highlight them too
.COVID-19 has extremely affected the world of work, what challenges do African countries face in terms of adopting remote working.
We have experienced unstable internet and electricity in some instances. The payment mechanism also tends to be a challenge sometimes making it hard to pay people on time.