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How She Works: I’m Mercy Njue, A Machine Learning Expert & Founder at BotLab, and This Is How I Work!

Before you meet Mercy, how about a groveling apology from me?


Yes, I started this year with apologies, but this would be the last apology you’d hear from me because to a large extent, I’ve gotten everything under control.

Anyway, I have a weekly series on MissTechy titled “How She Works,” (This has been one of the reasons I’ve held back from posting this year), where we try to show off the diverse job roles in tech and the African women who own the space. I hope with this, a lot of people would be able to learn a thing or two from their stories and even make some important career decision(s). 

To kick-start this series, meet Mercy Njue:

She is an Artificial Intelligence| Business intelligence| Robotics| Deep learning and Machine learning expert.

That is a lot, right?

She is also the founder of BotLab, which you’d read about later and the Head of User Support and IT operation at Africa Nazarene University in Kenya.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a Doctor or Lawyer, then I realized studying social sciences was challenging for me so I switched to being a Biochemist Engineer as I was very good in sciences.

Looking at your career path, it seems like you’ve transitioned seamlessly from being a Network Administrator to a Research Analyst, Columnist, Tech Consultant, Head of User Support & IT Operations and now, the Founder of Bot Lab.

Do you feel like you made those transitions deliberately? How do you approach navigating your career?

I deliberately chose to be a research assistant, as I love doing research. It helped me to learn some of the components of undertaking a Research study {I was part of the KENET E-readiness index 2013 & 2015}. This also made me draft a couple of research papers. After this, I realized that a lot of people do not read research articles, so I decided to write for the CIO East Africa Magazine, and then later Management magazine.  Botlab came about after my stint in the US, where I saw the influence of AI, BI, and ML. So I started Botlab with the aim of training more Kenyan techies and strategic owners within the organization who influence strategic technology adoption and usage.

Botlab came about after my stint in the US, where I saw the influence of AI, BI, and ML.  

How would you describe BotLab to the uninitiated?

Botlab is a software accelerator that trains:

a) Techies in the hands-on skills in Artificial intelligence, Business intelligence, and Machine learning.
b) We train entrepreneurs, top level, and middle-level managers on the importance of these technologies and why they should drive the scalability and usage within their organizations.

We believe technology should be embedded in Strategy, and not the other way round.  

What tools do you normally use?

We use different programs for different things. For machine learning, at the moment, we use Python:

And for Business intelligence, we use IBM Cognos and Microsoft Power BI. We use Design thinking to teach some of the components within the curriculum.

What time do you get up in the morning and how do you start and end your day?

My day starts at 5.30 am, though there are times it starts at 4 am. It’s dependent on my workload, and whether I will be in meetings all day. My day ends by going for a run at around 5.30pm when I get a chance, after which I work for an hour or two, then read a book chapter before I sleep.

One word that can be used to describe your work at Bot Lab?
Transformative

What has been the biggest influence on your career and why?
Starting with my father who has believed in me since I was a little girl, to those who opened doors for me because they believed in me.

What is your most successful failure or biggest regret?
I learned to never regret anything as I make the decisions with a clear concise. What I pick are lessons. This makes it easier for me to pick up the pieces and move on within a short period of time.

I learned to never regret anything as I make the decisions with a clear concise.  

Can you share some of your favorite projects at Bot Lab?
Python prep that we have now organized twice and which is always sold out every time. We are organizing the 1st Business intelligence Summit in Kenya that will take place in April.

What laptop & smartphone do you currently use?
HP Elite Book, and iPhone 5C.

What is your favorite tech gadget asides from your Smartphone?
I can’t choose between my iPad and my Surface.

Do you have a work playlist? What are the top 3 songs in your work playlist?
Ben Pol- Mashine.

Let it go- James Bay.

Loise Kim – Ndigiuga Ndudathimite.

Share a picture of your workspace setup?

What advice would you give to young people thinking about being an expert in AI, BI, or ML?
Find what you love within these technologies. They are very broad, so you can be anything —A researcher, a developer, a designer, tester etc.

Fill in the gap, I’d love to see Kendi Muchungi tell us how “she works.”

Next week, we would feature an Accountant turned Developer, she currently works as a web developer at Andela, and I’d pick one of the top questions from you guys to ask her. In the meantime, what do you think about How She Works and Mercy’s work life?

18 Comments

  1. Viklin January 22, 2018
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