Owen holds a degree in Computer Engineering and a Master of Science in Mobile Computing from the University of Hertfordshire. She previously worked for Zenith Bank as Mobile Payment Lead and currently heads Luno Nigeria as Country Manager. In this inspirational piece, she opens up about her career journey in tech, the challenges faced, milestones achieved and how women can build solid careers in tech.
On Achieving Success
I’ve always wanted to be successful and I think everybody has the same desire. My parents were successful career professionals, so I had role models to emulate. I was also intrigued by Architecture and wanted to study it, but I eventually gained admission to study Computer Engineering.
Personal growth is my primary driving force; followed by strong passion. For instance, while at Zenith bank, the Central Bank started giving out mobile money licenses in order to improve financial inclusion. The knowledge that I could help improve that process helped drive my passion for it.
Also, I get excited about mentoring women interested in blockchain. Currently, this seems to be a sort of male-dominated space, but knowing that a woman can be in that space and serve as a mentor drives me.
It’s always been challenging for women because people believe that a woman cannot play in a supposedly male-dominated space. Sometimes you doubt yourself and get intimidated. But I think that drives me as I strive to be better. I want to change the narrative. During my MSc. program in mobile computing, I was the only woman and at first, I was intimidated. I felt it was something I couldn’t do. I had to challenge myself. In the end, I triumphed. Only two people graduated with a distinction and I was one of the two. So it proved the point that whatever I decide to do, as long as I’m determined I can get to wherever I aim to.
Launching mobile money for Zenith Bank was a huge achievement for me; seeing that I was improving financial inclusion. Also, being able to migrate from the traditional banking system to blockchain technology was another one for me. And then heading the biggest exchange in Nigeria – Luno is a milestone that is pretty impressive for me.
On Women Empowerment
The truth is women have not been judged fairly. It’s important that we have a level playing field. It’s important that people should be judged and favored based on merit rather than gender.
There shouldn’t be any gender specific role. Roles should be assigned based on merit. In my own space, I try to ensure that I do not create any gender-specific role, and for some reason, I have more females than males. Once you make up your mind to hire based on merit, it helps you. If every company can emulate this, it’ll make this world a better place.
To me, the most important thing is determination. As long as you’re determined, you can get to anywhere you want to go, even to the peak of your career. You need to be confident and understand your worth. Don’t settle for less because the modern day woman can have it all. For women in the tech space, don’t be afraid because most people believe that it’s a male dominated space. That’s not true. Women are also go-getters. However, it is important that you have the interest and the passion. Be determined, be confident, know your worth and do not settle for less.
Owenize Odia has been the Country Manager at Luno Nigeria for over three years. Before joining Luno, Owen worked for Zenith Bank as Mobile Payment Lead for 8 years and holds a degree in Computer Engineering and Master of Science in Mobile Computing (Distinction) from the University of Hertfordshire.