Symphony Personas: Ibironke Yekinni

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Symphony Solutions finds the most fascinating talents that come from all backgrounds and all corners of the world. We have talked to Ibironke Yekinni, a Nigerian-born Senior Software Engineer now residing in the UK, who recently joined our company. Ibironke told us about her one-of-a-kind career path, what brought her to software testing and sparked her passion for teaching others. 

1. You joined Symphony Solutions just a few weeks ago, what’s your first impression of the company?

Firstly, I must commend the friendliness around here, and I love the simplicity of its operation; even though it’s a company with a large workforce, it’s almost like we are five. I felt carried along almost immediately after I joined. 

2. When did you first decide that you wanted to work in the IT field? What was your lightbulb moment?

I made this decision back then in school then I was studying to earn a Higher National Diploma at that point in my life, and I got exposed to programming Languages, and started learning Visual base, Java. I was stunned with the realization that I can do a lot of different things and don’t have to be snugged to one thing forever in the IT field. That bore the conviction for me.

3. Could you tell us your story of becoming a test engineer? How did you get started? What was your path?

It all began during my NYSC programme (it’s usually a mandatory one-year service in Nigeria). I was working as an admin in the IT firm I was posted to serve; my routine was tailored around getting the technician to fix the generator, making sure that everything was in place for everyday activity. There I had the internship opportunity to learn product management. During this period, I coordinated and put together a team for two projects that I released working with the product manager in the firm. However, I left project management eventually because it involves more talking than the actual execution, which was more fascinating with its technicalities. I also learned UI/UX, I did a little bit of web development and a bit of backend PHP. 

The deal breaker came in for me the day my boss asked me if I could give software testing a trial as there was a product about to be let go live, but hasn’t been tested. I was able to fish out a good number of issues with the product. So, I was then encouraged to dig deeper into software testing. Back then there was no institute on testing, so I googled, dug YouTube for materials related, took a lot of free and paid courses, and began to pile up knowledge. Then I drafted out my career path and stuck to it. 
 
I did an internship on manual testing, testing fundamentals, MySQL, API. From day one, backend testing has really struck me. I love API. In fact, I went as far as writing my own API, then went into automation and currently focused on security testing. I even did an MSc in Cyber Security. But for my current job, I am totally focused on Quality Assurance. 

4. Motivation is very important in our lives – work and personal. What are some of your biggest motivators at work? Tell us about your secret power. 

My biggest motivation is challenge. The conviction I got from God about this career path has made the sailing a worthy one regardless of the challenges

5. What’s your favorite part of the job? What do you enjoy about your job as a test engineer the most? 

I am involved in every part of the process, which makes it interesting for me. I get to put on a cap of every team member. And the most interesting part is when the users download, use the app and leave amazing reviews and great ratings. 

6. Could you share a few words about the project you’re working on? What is the most interesting part of your current work?

Currently, I’m working on a project that’s basically about forecasting the end result of a game and being rewarded for forecasting right. It takes a lot of strategic and critical thinking. The most interesting part is that I am at this side where all the calculations are being done, and I’m also exposed to the business part of the job. It has made me understand why a lot of people watch football.

7. We were quite intrigued to hear about your Bold Audacious Goal and we think we almost decrypted. But of course, we’d like to learn about it from you! Please tell us more about that, it’s so inspiring!

The first audacious goal is to have a Software Engineering Institute for females, where tutors and students will all be female. This is already in progress, currently at the stage of getting companies to partner with us. Second is to become a Female President in my country, even though I don’t have a clear roadmap yet. I am optimistic and all positive. 

8. We could tell that you are very involved in the Testing community in Africa. Could you please share more about your work as a trainer and speaker?  

In Africa today, a lot of people want to do tech but don’t want to code, and they are not even aware of testing. There should be more talk around it, knowing that it is a shortcut to getting into the tech world because as a tester you are at the center of everything. Looking at the number of products that have been developed and needed to be tested before going live, and realizing how few testers we have in Africa, you find one tester doing three to four jobs. I was compelled to bring new people into the field. One of the first people I trained did a lot of job roles for the company she worked for back then and took home less than 300 Euros monthly. Seeing that she could do better in the field, I test ran my training on her. And after the training she secured a job that offered double her previous salary. This encouraged me to go ahead to start up the academy with a three months’ time frame. And today we have done a successful nine cohorts, with an average of 93% of graduates now employed and earning very comfortable salaries, the tenth cohort registration is ongoing. 

And as a speaker, I am an advocate for quality testing and quality products. I also believe that for us to have a quality product, everyone needs to have quality ethics, from the product manager to the UI/UX designer to the developer. I am currently the community organizer for the Ministry of Testing Lagos, Nigeria version. I am also the lead organizer for women in testing Nigeria version. I currently own a startup called Testify Limited. We intend to train people and outsource them to companies, as well as test products. I used to be the assistant secretary for Nigerian Testers. I am a member of the IFTB membership board, and I am looking forward to bringing people to train our software testers in Nigeria, so they can be more certified in their testing skills. 

9. Your story is so fascinating. How do you even keep up with everything? Do you have an extra five hours in your day? How do you keep a work-life balance? 

At this stage in my career, there is nothing like work-life balance, though I tend to make use of my 24 hours effectively. For my time, 9 hours daily are dedicated to official work, 5 hours to service community like answering questions on testing, training student, speaking at events, or catching up with my graduates. My startup can take up another 5 hours, then rest and sleep. I rarely do outings – extroverted online, introverted in person. What is more important to me as a person is my relationship with the Holy Spirit, as I am a practicing Christian. As for friends and family, we have such a great bond, and there are times we do group video calls and catch up. 

10. If you weren’t in IT, what career would you pursue instead? 

It’s a whole lot for me, growing up I have considered pharmacy, medicine, and law (because I grew up with a law advocate). IF I wasn’t doing IT, I probably would have been doing law or politics. I could have been military personnel or medical line worker, researching one cure or the other. 

11. What advices would you give to young specialists who are at the beginning of their career path?  

For people beginning their career in IT, there are four things I feel you should not jump pass. 

  • Make a decision, have a focus and draw out a career map. This includes forecasting where you want to be at every given point in your career journey. 
  • Seek knowledge. Take your time to soak yourself in the knowledge of the field you choose, be buried in the full knowledge of the course, do everything possible to learn all it entails. Pay the price to skill up. 
  • Learn wide and learn deep. As a tester you need to know a bit of what is going on in other fields. This will help you as a tester to be more informed in carrying out your duty. And as well NETWORK with your fellow testers, always share what you learn, attend events and comment when necessary. 
  • You need to Persevere. I have seen a lot of people cry. A lot give up on the way. There is always a dark moment, but once you persevere, the extra effort eventually pays off. 

We invite you to learn more about Symphonians! Check out some of our previous Symphony Personas interviews

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