A boy travelling back to school needs some good company on the bus. So after taking his seat he puts his backpack on the empty seat next to his and tells everyone whose company he wouldn’t enjoy that the seat is taken. As luck would have it, a girl he likes boards the bus. He picks up his backpack and puts it on his lap. When the girl nears his seat he gives her the most charming smile he could conjure. The girl sits next to him and as they say, the rest is history.
That boy came up with an algorithm to get what he wanted. When ladies put on makeup or choose beauty products they follow an algorithm to give themselves the best look. When you follow a recipe for your favourite dish that recipe is essentially an algorithm. By now you have figured out that algorithms are part of our everyday lives. Surprise! You have been writing algorithms all your life!
An algorithm is simply a set of rules followed in a problem solving operation.
Computer algorithms are not that different. One key difference is that software engineers use code or programming languages to tell computers what to do. The same way ordinary humans (software engineers are not ordinary 🙂 ) use language to communicate procedures. Sometimes algorithms fail, just like makeups fail. But if we use the right processes this hardly happens.
Computer algorithms can be very complex. Because the problems they are meant to solve can have very many moving parts. In the same way when making a financial investment you have to keep in mind many market factors and handle many unforeseen scenarios. As engineers we always have to visualise so many connected parts of a problem. This requires good spatial reasoning skills, creativity, being systematic, thoroughness, the patience of a saint and if you are to avoid being a mental case, playfulness.
That is it for now. In another article, I will walk you through how we use Algorithms at Sendy. Stay tuned. 🙂
We got some of the women of the Sendy family so they could share their experiences working in a tech startup in East Africa. Here is what they had to say.
Malaika Judd, CFO
I love my job because Sendy is growing so fast that every year it feels like I’m getting an MBA. Every year, our growth rate goes up, the number of deliveries that we do, the size of the business, our reach regionally. Every year is a new challenge and I have to keep up. One of the challenges we have with equality in the workplace is how do we make sure we are not just equally split 50/50 male and female but that we are equal across different departments. Like, how do I make sure tech is not all male and customer support is not all female?
Actually one of our KPIs this year is to make sure we have more female developers. As the CFO and Co-founder for Sendy, one of my jobs is to raise money for the business. A challenge as a female cofounder is statistically it is shown that female co-founders raise less than 10 per cent of what male co-founders raise. That means that I have to hustle extra-hard to raise money for the business. Sendy makes my life easier because Sendy is like a family. Its fun coming to work. It is fun hanging out here. I know everyone here, if I have an issue, will step up to help me.
Sandra Buyole, Marketing Manager Merchant
I have been given the opportunity that women can also run the tech space and we are definitely going to take the next big tech company to the next level. I think the challenge we women face is having to work twice as hard to get recognized at our job. At Sendy, everything is very data-driven and it’s easier to show our work and successes. It reduces bias and subjectivity. There’s a stereotype that women in tech have to look a certain way. FOr you to pass to be a techie woman you have to have geeky specs on and sneakers. I feel at Sendy it is different because you can come to work looking amazing and gorgeous but still put in the work. It gives you the opportunity to be feminine without having to be stereotyped for you to fit in. As a mother of a 3-month old baby, I get flexi hours so I can still work and deliver without having to worry. I still have time to go home and take care of my child.
Mitchelle Korir, IoS Developer
I love my job because, for me, it feels like being part of a family. I would around people who care about my development. I think women face a number of challenges in the workplace. One of the challenges women face at the workplace is people trying to put you in a box that you’re supposed to do this or look like this for you to accomplish anything. People have opinions about what you should look like. For instance, as a techie, you should have baggy jeans which is not the case. People want you to fit into a box where there are some things you should not do. Women are not supposed to do sciences and leave the ‘hard’ things to the men. But I feel here you are free to be who you are. You are judged by your skills and what you can do.
If Sendy sounds like the place for you, then check out our careers pages. You could be exactly what we are looking for too.