‘It is important to widen the pool of opportunity through diversity in tech’
Ashim Egunjobi is the acting country manager for Tek Experts, a technology development company and global provider of business and IT support services. In this exclusive interview with Jumoke Akiyode-Lawanson, she talks about the vast tech talent in Nigeria, the company’s achievements since launch of Nigeria operations over a year ago and its contribution to Nigeria’s growing IT landscape. Excerpts.
What is Tek Experts and what kind service is your company involved in?
Tek Experts is a global business processing organization. We focus on technical support services and we have operations in seven countries around the globe. We are present in China and Vietnam, we have operations in Bulgaria and in Malta and of course in the same time zone we also have an office here in Nigeria and we have two operations in America, one in Costa Rica and one in the United States of America. We work with IT companies who have a need for high technical support services where we come in and provide those services for those clients. If you imagine that you’re a corporate organization and you have a software that you are using, you encounter an issue with this software so you raise a ticket and that ticket contacts us, then we solve your problem.
Tek Experts launched in Nigeria about a year ago, what informed your decision to choose Nigeria as a specific location to operate in Africa?
Nigeria was a pretty straightforward choice for us to launch the organization. For one, Nigeria is located in an optimal time zone, you have the GMT+1-time zone which really gives you access to the world, especially with a nice span of operating hours. The other thing is the English Language skills. As we know, English is the language of business in Nigeria and that is spoken in so many different countries around the world, so if you’re looking for countries to support global customers, a lot of time, English would be a nonnegotiable requirement and of course, Nigeria is an English related kind of country therefore, its completely clear to have that capability here. But the most important reason we came to Nigeria is the people. Two reasons here: 1) Is that Nigerians are extremely hard working, passionate and have a natural affinity to customer service. Nigerians are very cultured and always wanting to bring out the best in any kind of problem that they are trying to solve. The other issue here is that there is also a huge amount of Tech Talent in Nigeria.
Can you talk about the company’s achievements in the last one year of Nigeria operations?
Tek Experts Nigeria was launched in April 2018 so we’ve been just about a year and half in operations. The first milestone was to launch. It is no easy feat to launch a global business with international standard in any country especially in Nigeria, so the first feat was, we launched 200 technical engineers and from then we have grown operations to almost a thousand technical support engineers here in Nigeria so we’ve had several milestones along that journey and of course the biggest milestone would be to be able to continue to attract incredible talents along our journey to join us here in the office. Another milestone would be that we have been able to service our clients successfully with very good performance records and quite big customer satisfaction and in line with that, we’ve been able to launch more business lines that we support for our clients here in Nigeria, so that has been one of our biggest milestones.
It’s great that the company has grown from having 200 technical engineers to about 1000 engineers, but apart from developing these technical skills and creating job opportunities, in what other ways would you say Tek Experts has been able to contribute to Nigeria’s developing IT landscape?
The most important aspect here is with regards to skills development, so we recognize that the clouded options generally in Africa is in its baby steps so it is just growing. As a company serving a global customer, we are servicing customers who have adopted the cloud fully, who have been running on cloud for some years, who use a variety of different software or products and are on the cloud; which means that our engineers are able to interact with a very much matured customer than what you may be able to interact with in the local market and so skills development is a huge one. Technical skill development by training – we do a lot of trainings on site, our engineers go through two to three months of technical training which we kind of invest into them. But at the same time it’s also about exposure so its skills development by exposure. In addition to that, we lay emphasis not only on technical trainings but also on soft skills. We also want to give back to the community, so we have launched an app, along our journey we’ve had a lot of CSR initiatives.
Earlier this year, Tek Experts released a white paper, championing the cause of diversity and inclusion in the technology industry. The white paper analyzed challenges faced by women operating in this industry especially in Africa. Would you say that this is a key passion for Tek Experts, is this something you’re looking to do more of in the future?
Advancing the ratios to which women work in technology is certainly a passion for us at Tek Experts, ensuring that women not only have opportunity but also are attracted to working in technology is passion point for us. Not only because we believe that diversity matters and there are several reasons why it matters; one of which is because we all serve a very diverse customer base so the more diverse our workforce is the more we can tap into the needs of our diverse customer base. We also truly believe that the more balanced your workforce is with regards to gender diversity in particular the more you can increase or enhance your performance because you know studies have shown that in fact there are a lot of women that have extra drive to prove themselves especially in areas that may have been male dominated for a long time so women have that extra drive to want to prove themselves and so, a lot of times you get more performance out of a lady working in that field. I also think showcasing that in fact women can work in any field and in technology as well will attract more women to the industry. So it’s really about widening the pool of opportunities and ensuring that women can play in the economy just as much as men can.Tek Experts Nigeria has a women and technology network for women who work on the site here and we have a ratio of 30% of women.
Is Tek Experts planning to collaborate with women in the technology space?
The survey that we launched earlier this year was for us key to understanding across the globe where are the nuances and where are the different kind of views of women either exposed in technology, what are the challenges that they have faced along their career and how would they want to see improvement across the globe. In Nigeria, we have engaged with two organizations (W-TEC and Pearls of Africa) in particular to identify how we could work together and how we can foster the message together.
How does the company source for tech talent and recruit globally and in Nigeria?
We have an in-house talent acquisition team both represented at the global level and in sites locally as well. DNA is something that is extremely important for us at Tek Experts so across the globe we foster a kind of certain culture that we strongly believe is one of our unique selling points to the customers. We require a kind of certain performance from people but what we value even more is the right culture, mindset, discipline, hardworking spirit, honesty, integrity and punctuality. Tek Experts has about 5,000 people worldwide, so you can say Nigeria is one of the biggest sites already and we will continue to grow on that trajectory. At the same time, our Tek global talent pool will continue to grow and we envision that Tek Experts will be about 15,000 people by 2025.
What are the challenges you face as a company operating in Nigeria’s tough environment and how are you able to work through these challenges?
Well, we’ve not faced too many challenges but I think that it is mainly based on our spirit. So we have a can do spirit, we believe that everything is possible and we put our minds to it that we are able to achieve pretty much everything. At the same time, we are a “by the book” company, everything here is black and white we don’t really like the gray zones so we stay away from things we don’t understand and we make sure that we do everything that is right that needs to be done, we don’t tend to try and run away from any challenge but we try our best to make it work. Of course we’ve done our research about Nigeria before coming so we had a good understanding of what we could expect with regards to operating costs, regulations and any other thing in this environment.