Interview with: Hannah Olukoye

CO.DE The Interview Series

Welcome to the interview series. Join us over the coming weeks as we catch up with some of the best technologists in our CO.DE network — Find out where it all started, what makes them tick, and what’s next in the ever-evolving German technology landscape.

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This week we were lucky enough to be speaking with Engineering Manager and ‘Google Developer Expert for Android’, Hannah Olukoye.

Not only is Hannah a highly skilled creative Engineer and emerging Leader within technology, she’s also a great person. An advocate for women in this market and clearly passionate about giving back to the community. What really stands out is Hannah’s dedication to making a positive impact, both inside and outside of technology.

Hannah, would you mind giving us a brief intro please — who is Hannah Olukoye?

I’m Hannah Olukoye, Engineering Manager at in Berlin, previously Associate Engineering Manager at Taxfix. Now, in my job, I am instrumental in guiding engineering teams towards success, but throughout my career my focus has been on crafting dynamic and user-friendly mobile experiences, specialising in mobile application development on the Android platform.

My commitment to excellence in software engineering has been recognised through my title as a ‘Google Developer Expert for Android’, underscoring my leadership in this domain. And, beyond my professional work, I am deeply invested in fostering growth within the tech community. I actively mentor aspiring Developers, share my expertise through technical writing, and deliver presentations at industry conferences, all with the aim of inspiring others to pursue fulfilling careers in technology.

Outside of work, I like to indulge my creative side through baking and immersing myself in literature. My dedication to making a positive impact in the world also extends beyond the tech space — I previously served as Vice President in the board for the Samburu Girls Foundation, where I volunteered my time and expertise to support meaningful causes in my Kenyan community.

Wow. Sounds like you’ve always had a lot going on, Hannah. Where did it all start work wise? When did you decide Software Engineering was for you?

I started coding in my teen years, when I was in high school. Back then I didn’t think much of it as something I could pursue as my career. In fact, in college, I took a different course from Computer Science and graduated with an Actuarial Science degree, but quickly signed up to take certificate courses in computer programming because now I was sure that’s where I wanted to be.

I quickly made great strides in this mix of part-time learning in school, and getting job roles where I could apply my skills. The tech community was a great help back then, as it is now. Finding people to collaborate with and mentor me was the miracle I needed.

At what point, and why, did you decide to specialise in Android development?

I’m proficient in native Android development for mobile application, over the years I played with different frameworks like React Native, Flutter, and also dipped my feet in Swift for iOS. I have a few apps uploaded and in use on both Google Playstore and Apple Store, with a growing user base. I try to maintain those apps from time to time.

I started off as web developer, explored a bit of DevOps before I fell in love with mobile development and stuck there for the past 10+ years.

I enjoy looking at the final product after weeks of coding, and the adaptation phase with users is always nerve-racking because you only hope that it meets their expectations. This is the part I’d say I love most, compared to working on the more backend-related projects. I’m lucky to have experienced both sides of software engineering.

Was there a pivotal project or moment in your career that changed things for you, or impacted your professional growth?

I always say I’m in a constant transition phase in my career, where after a few years I’m switching context, or roles, to something that I’m really passionate about.

I can speak about my current role as an Engineering Manager... I always imagined that I would end up as a Principal Engineer, but a few years ago when I faced a gap (where I didn’t interact with many EMs from the mobile side of tech) I was intrigued and driven to try and reduce this growing gap, and so far, I’m happy here.

I came to Europe to work for the first time in 2023, and taking this bold step has already inspired so many in my home country, Kenya, that the possibilities are endless; we have the freedom to work from anywhere.

Talking of others, do you recognise any common traits among high performing engineers / leaders that you’ve worked with?

The top 3 things I have observed over the years, and I’m adapting to for myself, are:

One, Networking. Building a strong professional network enables leaders and engineers to connect with peers, industry experts, and potential collaborators. It can even open doors to new opportunities, whether it's career advancement, collaboration on projects, or access to valuable resources and information.

Two, Continuous Learning. Technology is constantly changing, staying updated with the latest developments, tools, and techniques is crucial. Continuous learning ensures both leaders and engineers remain relevant and adaptable in this industry. Whether it's attending workshops, taking online courses, or participating in industry events, ongoing learning fosters personal and professional growth.

Three, Mentorship. Having mentors provides invaluable guidance, support, and wisdom to navigate challenges and make informed decisions. Mentors offer insights based on their experiences, helping leaders and engineers avoid pitfalls, develop new skills, and gain perspective. I also give back by taking up mentees.

Thoughts for the future... How do you anticipate the software engineering industry evolving in the next few years, and are you doing anything to prepare for these changes?

Can we steer this question in a different direction to avoid the easy AI answer? I think people already know... haha!

Absolutely! Is the future of engineering more diverse? Are we doing enough, or is there more that can be done to bring women into engineering / encourage girls to see the opportunity, and take that computer science course?

I look back at the years since I joined the tech community in my home country, and I see such exponential growth in numbers, especially.

I intentionally took up mentoring other women in tech because I saw the impact it had on me throughout my journey. I actually started speaking at tech events only because I saw another fellow woman in tech giving one of her first talks, and I was so motivated and inspired.

In society today, women are aware of the importance of continuous learning in striking a balance between work and personal life. This commitment to ongoing growth and development allows us to adapt to changing circumstances and manage our responsibilities more effectively over time. This is possible because of the support we get from gender-specific communities like Women Techmakers by Google, which really pushes for more women-driven tech events and meet-ups.

In my opinion, all these initiatives are gradually closing the diversity gap as they are creating more inclusive and supportive environments within the tech industry.

Thank you, Hannah. To finish, if you could give a piece of advice to yourself as a Junior, what would it be, and why?

Software development can be challenging, but it's highly rewarding.

Stay updated on current trends and news in the tech field by subscribing to developer blogs. Learn from industry experts. Maintain a list of mentors who can provide guidance and support. Focus on understanding the basics thoroughly as a foundation for growth.

Would you like more information about workplace trends and insights like these?

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