For Mercy Louise Jillo, the child, becoming a pediatrician was the ultimate dream. Mercy Louise Jillo, the adult, however, life could not have turned out more differently, with her finding herself to be an African Woman in Technology just like others.
“I’m a Senior Product Executive at Interswitch; a technology-driven company focused on electronic payments and digital commerce solutions.” Mercy Jillo, as she is popularly called, says, “My job revolves around finding problems, listing key problems, and prioritizing on how they are solved so that the end product is easy to use and effective.”
What is Jillo’s work?
She describes her work as speaking geek language and business language, thus acting as a mediator between the technical and non-technical stakeholders.
However, her journey as an African Woman in Technology has been long and fruitful. Prior to her current job, she had been a Developer Community Manager and had even led the Google Developer Group (JKUAT chapter 2017) and Google Developer Students Club (JKUAT chapter 2018/19, where she organized developer community-focused events. During this time, she oversaw the growth of early professional developers from a meager 500 to 2,500. Jillo also worked as a Master Trainer at Youth for Technology, an international non-profit organization that works with youth and women demonstrating the power of appropriate technology in education and entrepreneurship.
Furthermore, aside from her current job, she coordinates outreach programs for Facebook Developer Circles, Nairobi chapter. As if that is not enough, she is a mentor and co-organizer of Google developer Group and Women Techmakers, Nairobi.
She also mentors students from primary schools all the way to university. Let’s just say, Jillo has her hands full. And if you thought this would leave her with no time to be fun and have fun, then you couldn’t be any more wrong.
“My hobbies include traveling, Latin dancing (Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Rueda, Merengue, Semba), knitting, baking, quad biking, and recreational reading.”
So, how does she find time to do all these?
“I set adequate time for both work and personal life and create boundaries. In my routine,” Jillo says, “there is a specific time block for work, family, friends, self-care, hobbies among others.”
Additionally, Jillo points to having a robust and liberal support system that overlooks gender stereotypes and biases in her family which ensures that her work-life balance is not affected.
In the tech world, gender biases are a thing, and Jillo is no stranger to them.
“Yes, I have been a victim of gender bias as an African Woman in Technology and age bias; having accomplished so much at a relatively tender age. I overcame the biases by having candid conversations with different stakeholders and introducing diversity inclusion programs.”
And of her love for tech…
“I love the fact that a career in tech offers a lot of room for growth, creativity, context switching in various roles, and flexibility. There’s a lot of autonomy, you can live anywhere in the world and always work remotely.” She says.
To the young ones entering into the male-dominated spaces, Jillo has this to say,
“Be confident. Rise above the ‘tech bros’ banter, learn from both genders; find a mentor, network and embrace the value that you deliver in the ecosystem. Summarily, don’t let your gender define your capabilities!”
Strong words indeed!