By Rumbidzayi Mlambo, Zimbabwe and Global Tech Leader
Looking at myself right now I get goose bumps just by thinking of all the things I am doing, those i am about to do and those that i am planning to do. The future is filled with endless possibilities, I have the courage and confidence to pursue the things that I am passionate about that is Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and how I have found myself at the intersection of these amazing disciplines. I am a finally in a space where I can innovate and dare to challenge the status quo!
Let me tell you a little about myself and how I got into technology. firstly I am a mother of 6 and yes I went into labour 5 times and I have a step daughter. I was born in Kadoma a small town in Zimbabwe and grew up in Bulawayo the 2nd capital city of Zimbabwe. Growing up I was an intelligent child a book worm and a bit of a nerd. The problem was i never knew what I was going to do with my life. The careers I was exposed to were mainly teaching, nursing, medicine. All I knew was that I wanted to make a difference and I wanted to be different. Igues looking back I can say that I wanted to innovate. I did well at school got chains of A's at O'Level and when it came to advanced level I just went with the flow never thinking really of what taking up certain subjects would mean. I knew I loved Sciences and so I chose to do Sciences. I had no one to help me and my parents were just proud of their daughter excelling and could not offer much support in this unknown territory. Same thing in college no one close to me knew what I should do at University and I changed a lot and settled with Biochemistry and Chemistry.
Still my thirst for Innovation was not quenched and I felt I liked everything, people thought I was just plain confused! I finished college not very inspired was pregnant by the we graduated and got married. I stayed at home and had more kids leaving my family disappointed and confused. I finally got to work at the university I attended 3 years later and thats when my journey began. I always found myself searching for solutions to problems even the non-technical ones e.g in administration, policy, management. I left my job at the University and went into Government and still found more problems in need of solving I was just amazed at the fact that no-one seemed to care and all they did was complain. I left again and went into the Research Council I figured they would be the ones researching all these problems and finding solutions to them. Still I was disappointed. I discovered the magic of Science and Technology though, through my online searches and Research. I discovered Intellectual property and knew I had to know more about how it impacts on Science and Technology (S&T). I left my job, abandoned my career, left my babies for another city to study Intellectual Property I came out more inspired and Ready to finally launch myself.
I discovered a mentor in one of my former bosses who told me she had seen something in me, a burning fire which showed in my work reports and work. her name is Rungano Karimanzira, she gave me the strength to continue to discover my dreams and showed me the ropes. She was and is still always there for me pushing me to do more, listening to me sharing her experience as a woman in a male dominated field she helped me find my place and voice amongst the male counterparts, she is also a mother and that common ground helped me manage the pressures of being a wife and a mother with my career. It was through our interaction that I discovered the TechWomen programme and I tell you my life will never be the same again. through this programme in the Silicon Valley I learnt that it was ok to like a lot of things, it was possible to integrate all the things I was passionate about and raise the stakes. I discovered that I could integrate my Biosciences, Chemical Sciences and Intellectual Property, with Technology and implement my ideas better. I discovered my inspiration through two amazing women in the Valley Meredith Mckenzie (Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Juniper Networks) my professional Mentor and Rochelle Kopp (Managing Principal of Japan Intercultural Consulting) my cultural Mentor.
I have benefited from the power of mentorship and networking. I hope that we can all take time out to encourage and support young girls it can make a difference. I will be introducing you to Zimbabwe's techwomen as I write about them and what they are doing.
From Global Tech Women: Rumbidzayi is a member of Global Tech Leaders and represents Zimbabwe. If you are interested in joining Rumbidzayi and other women from around the world learn more and sign up here.