23-year old Joel Ogunsola is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Prunedge Development Technologies. He resigned his employment with Microsoft to co-find a technology company. Once in his life, he had interned with a road-side mechanic. Importantly, he is Nigeria-trained,
Can you briefly talk about yourself?
I am a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Akure. I am currently the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Prunedge Development Technologies Ltd – a social enterprise that is focused on innovating and creating affordable technological solutions that help to solve every day human problems by increasing the efficiency of systems and processes within the public sector space.
Over the last eight years, I also helped to co-found and manage a couple of not-for-profit organisations mostly focused on the role of technology in sustainable development, some of which include Tech4Dev, Akure TechUp and famers.ng.
What informed your choice of career in the ICT?
I have always had a flair for electronics and computers even when I was younger. As a kid, we had a desktop computer that had everything from Microsoft Office to CorelDraw to Encarta encyclopaedia and games, which further helped to heighten my interest. This desktop computer later packed up due to my inquisitive nature as regards what was within the box.
However, when I got into the university, Computer Science as a degree course wasn’t an option as I have always considered my interest in technology a second nature, which led me to start learning basic programming while in my first year. In my third year, I was inducted into the Microsoft Student Partnership programme, which then further exposed me to ICT as a career as well as the endless possibilities within the sector.
How did it all begin?
Immediately after my final exams, I got an opportunity to work as an intern (alongside 71 other young individuals across Africa) within the Microsoft 4Afrika Graduate Internship programme where I was initially responsible for the Microsoft Student Partnership programme in Nigeria, after which I was offered a full-time role as the Microsoft Education Technical Advisor for Nigeria, a position I held up until I resigned to co-found Prunedge in September 2015.
Can you recount your experience as a Microsoft education advisor?
As the Microsoft Education Technical Advisor for Nigeria, I was responsible for growing the brand’s market share in the now over 160 universities across Nigeria. By being a trusted advisor to the institutions’ vice-chancellors and their ICT heads, Microsoft was able to invest in their institutions as well as advise on technology adoption through partnership-led engagements.
As a mechanical engineer, why are you not fixing cars and machines?
Interestingly, based on my parent’s insistence to have practical knowledge of mechanical engineering, I spent about one and a half years learning to fix cars as an intern with roadside mechanic workshops during the various ASUU strikes. I also did part of my undergraduate internship programme at the Elizade central workshop in Lagos.
I must however confess that throughout my stay at the Elizade workshop, I was fascinated by the computer-based diagnostic tools and spent most of my time studying how they were built while also at some point attempting to build my own version.
What part of mechanical engineering are you applying to your current profession?
As an engineering graduate, the basic understanding of how small components make up machines and how machines make up complex industrial systems, as well as the problem-solving approach, has been integral in the way I look at problems with a view to breaking them down while looking out for the missing link within each component to help us achieve efficiency at the end.
What is the overall impact of all these programmes on the society, especially the youths?
Access to ideas and information has always been a major challenge that young people within the society face. These events help to bridge the gap by bringing the needed information and access to young individuals.
The events serve as a barrier breaker for young people to meet other individuals they would otherwise not have met within their industry, as well as being able to connect with them freely.
If you were to do it all over, what career would you choose and why?
If I were to start all over, I would choose to take a degree in social work with a focus on community development, as I believe it would afford me the opportunity to learn first-hand the challenges faced in various communities across the world. This knowledge in turn will help in shaping the way we create technological solutions to solve people’s problems.
What is your advice to young people who are still searching for jobs?
Every employer is looking out for what makes you unique; so in your selected industry, keep learning and updating yourself – look out for opportunities to get as much practical experience as you can; either through volunteering or internships. The primary focus should always be on first gaining experience and not money.
This interview was conducted by an employee of Punch Newspaper and it first appeared on Punch online platform.