From Machine Learning Engineer in 4 Omdena Challenges to AI Consultant at the UN Environment Programme

Jul 6, 2022
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From Machine Learning Engineer in 4 Omdena Challenges to AI Consultant at the UN Environment Programme

Interviewee: Kennedy Wangari

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

What job did you get, Kennedy?

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

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

1. To learn and acquire relevant skills and experience in project and stakeholder management.

We’ve developed the agile mindset and now confidently implement best practices in agile 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. To hone our problem-solving skills, innovation, and approaches in developing practical and valuable data products.

We’ve learned the 7 steps of the business solving framework, improved our ability to experiment, collaborate with project stakeholders, agile, and learn new things quickly to deliver the minimum viable product in the shortest time possible.

3. To collaborate and work 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, working with different project partners, clients, and cross-functional teams have greatly shaped and honed our client-facing skills, communication styles, language, and developed a management consulting mindset: to understand & manage business requirements, effectively communicate with the project and client stakeholders, and present actionable insights & recommendations.

4. To take on challenging responsibilities and tasks in the different projects across their entire lifecycle.

These opportunities for teamwork, leadership and management growth have strongly positioned us 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 community in solving social, economic, and environmental grand problems in data-driven ways.

One of the most important things you learn at Omdena is asking the right questions. I’ve grown to be more empathetic and confident, listen more, learn more, 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 us feel more connected with the world, confident, and valued.

Leverage the power of your community to network, learn, ask for mentorship, ask questions, and seek professional development support.

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 pledge 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 have had working on Omdena projects that leave you questioning whether you are good enough?

One big challenge has been experiencing fear and doubts.

On 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 start actively working 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 3rd 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.



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