AI Insights

From a Machine Learning Engineer in Omdena Challenges to AI Consultant at the UN Environment Programme

July 6, 2022

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Growth story by Kennedy Wangari from Kenia

Omdena gave me the wings to fly high in the real world, build and steer meaningful data science/ AI career, and work on some of the grandest challenges facing the human race.

What job did you get, Kennedy?

I’ve got a job as Technology Consultant (AI and Analytics) at the United Nations Environment Programme.

How did the Omdena experience help in your career journey?

I came to Omdena in Fall 2019 as a data science intern at NCBA Bank, anxious to learn more about AI for good and eager to give back to a better world.

Omdena’s AI projects’ collaborative, bottom-up, and self-driven approach provided unique opportunities to:

1. Learn and acquire relevant skills and experience in project and stakeholder management.

We’ve developed the agile mindset, and now confidently could implement the best practices in project management and delivery in my day-to-day work as a technology consultant, ensuring that projects stay on target and ultimately address the problem statement.

2. Hone our problem-solving skills, innovation, and approaches in developing practical and valuable data products.

We’ve learned the seven steps of the business solving framework, improved our ability to experiment, collaborated with project stakeholders, and learned new things quickly to deliver the minimum viable product in the shortest possible time.

3. Collaborate with teams of diverse and talented individuals from different corners of the world and project partners.

The most important thing you learn at Omdena is asking the right questions. The exposure to various Omdena AI projects and working with different project partners, clients and cross-functional teams have significantly shaped our client-facing skills, communication styles, and language. They also developed a management consulting mindset. That helped to understand and manage business requirements, effectively communicate with the project and client stakeholders in addition to presenting actionable insights and recommendations.

4. Take on challenging responsibilities and tasks in different projects across their entire lifecycle.

These opportunities for teamwork, leadership, and management growth have strongly positioned me to sharpen essential technical, behavioral, and leadership skills, and experience to grow and succeed as a data science consultant.

How did it change your worldview?

Through working collaboratively on Omdena projects, I’ve experienced firsthand the positive impact of the power of the community in solving social, economic, and environmental grand problems in data-driven ways.

One of the most important things you learn with Omdena is asking the right questions. I’ve grown to be more empathetic and confident. I have also learned to listen and learn more. Moreover, I have developed better skills to build and scale faster and challenge different perspectives the teams brought on board.

I always thought I was not good at managing other people, but I discovered that in a positive environment, I’m able to do it.

Thank you, Omdena, for making me feel more connected with the world, confident, and valued.

Being around experienced data professionals and project stakeholders made me realize that at Omdena, everyone is very friendly, supportive, and willing to learn and help others learn. I remain indebted, and pledged to continue playing the card forward, supporting and helping bridge the technology skills gap for the underserved communities of learners.

What was the biggest obstacle you overcame?

There have been quite a number of setbacks and challenges I worked on in Omdena projects that may leave you questioning whether you are good enough?

One big challenge has been experiencing fear and doubts.

During my first project at Omdena, I was selected to be a task leader. Within the first week, I started feeling overwhelmed and anxious by seeing everyone participate, share resources, create tasks, and work on the project.

This, amongst other factors and nuances of bottom-up collaboration, discouraged me as I felt inadequate to make any meaningful contribution in the first three weeks as a task leader, and even catching up on resources, and everyone was getting harder.

Get out of your comfort zone: This is very important if you want to grow and learn.

During the third week, I challenged myself to overcome my fears, reached out to the project product owner, shared my experiences, and got paired with an existing PM. This was great because I was able to observe Omdena’s process and the PM’s role before taking the reins myself in future projects.

Once I pushed myself, others came in to help, got paired with an existing PM, and received guidance and support on how to go about the role.

Fear and doubts are temporary, just keep going and enjoy the journey.

Ready to test your skills?

If you’re interested in collaborating, apply to join an Omdena project at:

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