A Pat On The Back For Doing The Most
I had a talk with a close friend a couple of days ago about “life stuff”.
One thing that came up was how I was having troubling acknowledging the accomplishments that I’ve done in the past.
It’s been a struggle for me to look at all the things I’ve achieved and put them on a pedestal. I’m always on the go, trying to do the next best thing but never taking a breather to look at the work that I’ve accomplished. Basically I don’t count my “wins”.
My early 20s involved a lot of work, following by some self branding in my mid 20s and then becoming a little more comfortable in my late 20s and early 30s.
These works never came with awards or acknowledgements. But I’ve been fine with that because I’ve always felt that was the norm. As I approach 33 (Yes, I’m still young 😏) and do a bit of reflection, I thought it would be good to write about what I’ve done and what I hope to accomplish down the road.
Early To Mid 20s — Finding My Footing
Right after graduating from the University Of Houston in December 2011, I came back to Ghana and almost immediately started working. I was 24 with a degree in Management Information Systems from the Business School. I didn’t know what exactly what I wanted to do after university but I knew I definitely needed the work experience.
I started working for an IT Security Company which specialised in System Audits. My job was to assist with security compliance for business clients and audit processes to make sure they were up to security standards.
We did a lot of projects. I was doing security audits for government entities and private companies.
One project that stands out was when we undertook a project to audit the financial system of the Ministry of Finance in Liberia and I was made one of the lead auditors. I was 26 at that time and honestly didn’t feel like I was still well equipped to take the lead on anything. Maybe it was a bit of imposter syndrome.
I had done projects with the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems, GCNet, Ghana Register General and other big agencies to name a few. But I still felt inadequate.
The Liberia project went well and even though I probably had enough anxiety to fill a warehouse, I was able to pull through and complete the task.
I can’t calculate the man hours during the time I was working all those projects but it was a lot. My early 20s was nothing but work. If I had to say I had a few regrets, it was that I didn’t have enough “fun” during that time.
Mid 20s To Late 20s — Rebranding
In 2015, I went back to school to get my Masters Degree.
Prior to that, I had applied for the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST). I had gone through all the rounds including the aptitude test, the group interviews and one on one interviews and was among the final top 10 to be selected.
Unfortunately I didn’t get selected which was disappointing. But I wasn’t deterred. I was actually happy that I had made it that far. It felt like a validation.
A couple of months later, I left my job to do my Masters degree. Finding alternate sources for income while I was in school was a bit difficult to be honest. Despite all the work experience, finding a similar role was a bit harder than I thought. But in all honesty, I was done with the IT Security field and wanted to do something else.
During the last years at my former job that I started to look at a different career path: User Experience Designing.
Fun fact: I’ve always been into art. Since I was a kid, I loved drawing and design. Now I had a chance to combine my love of art+design and technology.
I started building websites with a combination of design tools including Adobe Dreamweaver and Adobe Muse (which is now obsolete) for small businesses and clients to make a little money on the side.
I also started to build a personal brand around design and writing.
In 2016, (I was 28), I started writing again. Blogging is more like it.
I started a technology website called TechNovaGH which covered tech news and stories around the Ghanaian tech ecosystem.
Lastly, I started a User Experience company with a former colleague called Userhub Africa to push more for the user experience design field in Ghana.
My mid 20s were definitely a time in which I was trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do and have a secure footing and I think I definitely found out.
Late 20s — Maturity
By this time, I had finished my Masters (in 2017), I had a tech news site and was building a UX startup which had gotten some projects underneath our belts.
Everything was the on the up and up. Then I got another break. I got hired by a rising fintech company in Africa: Flutterwave.
In late 2017, I joined Flutterwave as a UX Designer as one of its first international hire. It was a big deal because it opened me to the world of fintech and the vast experience while working there was very valuable.
So while I was still pushing Tech Nova, I had this “itch” to create something media related. That’s when the idea of “Labari Media Group” came to me.
The idea was to have a collection or group of content creators all under one umbrella to help push local content.
So in late 2019, I created that. The group was made up of Harmattan Rain, CulartBlog, Tech Nova, UnOrdinary, Squid Mag and AccraWeDey. So the Labari Media Group was born.
Unfortunately, timing was off.
Covid-19 was just around the corner and new responsibilities at work took away my focus to push it.
So at the moment, it’s been shelved. (For now)
Where Are We Now….
Currently, I’m 32 going on 33.
My birthday is a couple of months (January) and I couldn’t help but reminisce.
If we’re keeping track, I have gone from:
IT Security — User Experience Designing — User Research — Content Writing — Content Producing — Media….
I’ve never been the one to do just “one” thing.
I put a lot of work in My 20s (Sometimes I think too much work). It was after my mid 20s that I started to “let loose” a bit and tried to socialize more and be more out going. I think I had some solid footing during my late 20s.
It’s been an interesting journey. I had some lows (girlfriend breaking up with me, being broke while doing my Masters, relapsing into terrible depression) and some highs (Creating a tech news website, starting a UX startup and being hired by Flutterwave).
It’s hard to say I’ve had regrets. I think it’s realizing that all those experiences have led up to this moment and where I am in life. There’s still some ways to go.
Right now, this is where we are: I’m currently a UX Designer at company called Walulel and I’m pushing and revamping Userhub Africa in my spare time. I still write at Tech Nova GH but a little less low as my focus has been on career and projects.
I’ll write more about my personal life in January when I’m 33.
Until then, I’ll celebrate more Ws and accomplishments. It’s been a good journey and I feel like there’s so much more to do.