Who is Ifihanagbara Olusheye? Tell us a bit about her.

Ifihan is a 300 Level Systems Engineering student of the university of Lagos. She is a closet introvert with a passion for computers, EDM, and community.

You are a student and yet you are involved in extracurricular activities that you are successful in. How do you manage your career with school activities?

At first, it was hard balancing both. But over time, I learnt how to maintain a balance. When I’m in school, I simply reduce the amount of time I dedicate to tech and focus more on my studies. During school-free periods like this, I learn and research a few tech-related topics, but I wouldn’t say I do an in-depth study. I try not to allow one aspect to overshadow the other as all parts are important to me. And besides, as a Systems engineering student, school and tech are not so far apart.

You are the co-founder of the Arête Initiative. When and what inspired you to start this initiative? Tell us a bit about it.

My friends and I saw a need to impact our immediate environment, and we thought making children our main target would be convenient. We organized our first bootcamp and the feedback was amazing. We saw the kind of impact we had made in the lives of those kids, and we were amazed at what our organization was capable of achieving. This solidified our resolve. We believe a child should know how to operate a computer system and be able to perform some basic tasks like typing, using software like Microsoft Office and have a basic knowledge of programming.

So far, what has the impact of the Arête Initiative been like? How far have you been able to change the world through tech?

The impact Arete has had so far has been great. We have received mails from parents with testimonies of how the positive changes their kids have exhibited at home. Changes ranging from a more grounded level of reasoning, to volunteering to do basic tasks with the computer system. A major belief we have in Arete is that having the basic knowledge of programming helps build a child’s logical and reasoning faculties. This has been proven true time and again.

You majorly work with children. How has that been like for you? Would you change that if you had the opportunity? What do you wish you’d known while starting out?

Working with children has been fun. I have gotten in touch with the freedom and creativity of my inner child. Children are amazing; they learn things in the most dynamic way possible. If there was anything I wish I knew while starting out, it would be to keep an open mind while dealing with kids. There is so much to learn from their innocence and enthusiasm.

In 5 – 10 years time, what do you hope to achieve with your initiative and career-wise?

We hope to expand our reach to other Nigerian states, and become a body with international recognition. As for my career, I hope to get the opportunity to work with my dream company, Google.

You are an active woman in tech. When you started, were there challenges you faced, particularly because you are female, and how did you scale through?

At the start of my journey, and even now, I have faced various challenges. But I would not associate the cause of any of them to my gender. I have been surrounded by supportive friends and colleagues who inspire me to achieve my best. However, I know there are women being oppressed because of their gender. I would like to assure, and encourage them to keep on striving to be the best.

Has the ongoing pandemic affected you and your career in any way? If yes, how? And how are you dealing with it?

To be quite frank, this period has been great for me. I have had time to grow, improve, and network. I never imagined that I’d achieve and learn what I have in this short period of time.

What do you hope to achieve with the Arête Initiative and how are you working towards it?

We hope to help create a generation of kids with the skill of basic computer programming and the ability to create value using basic Microsoft packages. We believe this exposure would equip the children with the skills necessary to survive and thrive in the modern society. To achieve this, we have partnered with various bodies and organizations with the resources and drive to help move our agenda forward.

Is there any other information or advice that you would like to share with us?

Growth is essential, there is always space to grow. Seize every opportunity to grow.

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Jane Egerton-Idehen

Jane Egerton-Idehen is a telecommunication executive with over 13 years’ experience in the Nigerian, Liberian and Ghanaian telecommunications markets. Jane has a strong passion for promoting girls in STEM and ensuring women in STEM industries remain and grow their careers in that industry. She curates her thoughts around her career journey, experiences and passion in life.