Level Up: The software engineer who almost became an accountant 👩🏽‍💻

An interview with a world-class software engineer who almost became a doctor and an accountant.

Level Up: The software engineer who almost became an accountant 👩🏽‍💻

Welcome to the first edition of the Level Up newsletter. I’m Jesutofunmi, and I’ll be your guide on this adventurous career growth journey.

I’ll also be providing answers to specific questions you have about your career. Send your questions, and we'll answer them in a subsequent newsletter.

They say making a good first impression goes a long way, so let’s kick the newsletter off with something we can all relate to.

An interview with a world-class software engineer who almost became a doctor and an accountant.

 🔎 In the spotlight with Amenawon Esezobor

Meet Amenawon Esezobor, a software engineer at Gallagher Re, one of the largest global reinsurance brokers. While we've written a profile on her before, we still had more questions. Read on to learn more about what it takes to be a world class software engineer.

If your career journey were a movie, what would the title be and why?

I would title my career journey "Against All Odds" because my path has been one of unexpected turns and resilience. Initially, I didn't plan to study computer science. I even ended up in a job where I was nearly steered towards becoming an accountant. However, I found my way into software engineering and discovered a true passion for it. This journey has taught me the importance of persistence and adapting to new challenges

Describe a day in your life as a software engineer at Gallagher Re?

Typically, I start with morning standups at 9 am, with the agile team (testers, developers, product manager & project managers) to discuss our progress, tasks and blockers :). From time to time, I have a few meetings with the stakeholders to discuss new features to implement.

What skills do you think helped you land your current job, and also, what skills have you had to develop to excel in the role?

On the technical side, proficiency in programming languages like C# and JavaScript

and experience with cloud platforms was crucial. Additionally, familiarity with modern development practices and tools, such as version control and CI/CD pipelines, played a significant role in my landing my current job

On the soft skills front, effective communication, problem-solving abilities, and teamwork were essential. Being able to articulate ideas clearly, collaborate with diverse teams, and adapt to changing project requirements helped me stand out.

While in the role, I've constantly had to further deepen my understanding of system architecture and enhance my ability to mentor junior developers. Continuous learning and staying updated with the latest industry trends have been key to excelling in my position.

What were some of the biggest cultural shocks you experienced while working at a global company?

Working at a global company definitely brought some cultural surprises! For instance, I had to get used to different communication styles. In some cultures, being direct is valued, while in others, people are more indirect and polite.

Another fascinating aspect was the variety of holiday celebrations and traditions. Learning about and respecting these different practices broadened my perspective and added a rich, multicultural dimension to the work environment. It was truly enlightening and enriching.

What has been the scariest moment of your career so far?

Weird as it may sound, it was when I had to move to England to study. I worried a lot about how I would end up, whether I’d land my dream job, and how long I might stay unemployed. But I stayed motivated by reminding myself of my experience and confidence.

Sometime after, I realised that as long as you can dream, the world is your oyster and you can literally become anything you want.

Tell us about a time you failed or made a mistake, and how you handled it?

Early in my career, I had a pretty terrifying moment. I deployed some code that ended up causing a major system downtime. It felt like the ground disappeared beneath my feet; I was so anxious and worried. But I knew I had to face it head-on. I immediately told my team about the issue, and we all worked together to fix it. That experience taught me the importance of thorough testing and peer reviews, and it really helped me build resilience and problem-solving skills.

If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be?

If I could do one thing differently in my career, I would have been more proactive in putting myself out there and communicating openly from the start. While I don’t like to regret anything, I realise now that being more vocal about my ideas and asking questions early on could have helped me grow faster. Engaging more with colleagues and seeking feedback could have built stronger connections and confidence. It’s all about learning and growing from experiences, not regrets.

What’s one career-related superpower you wish you had?

One superpower I wish to have is the ability to understand any language and technology. Especially in this fast-paced world, being able to quickly adapt to new technologies would be very vital to stay ahead of any technological advancement.

What advice would you give to tech talents in Africa looking to level up to global standards?

First, never stop learning. The tech world is always evolving, so take online courses and follow tech blogs to stay updated. Networking is also crucial—connect with professionals on LinkedIn, join tech communities, and attend events. Showcasing your work is important too; build a strong portfolio with your projects and contributions to open-source. Don’t forget that soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving are key to any job. And remember, believe in your potential and keep pushing your boundaries!