Concillier Kitungulu has worked in PM/BA roles for solar companies in Kenya and Rwanda. She has a Bsc. in Software Engineering from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. She has over 5 years’ experience in product management with the aim to continually raise the bar on functionality, flow, consistency, usability and simplicity in IT systems resulting in unparalleled growth in revenue, reduction in cost and increased customer satisfaction.
Why did I get into STEM?
It was by fluke actually! Software Engineering was my 2nd option after Architecture. when choosing university courses. Fortunately/unfortunately I did not make it to the Architecture list and ended up in the Software Engineering class. I have to admit though, it was a great step and I got to find this out later on after attending several hackathons while in Uni and interacting with people in this space. The Tech space in Kenya is very energetic, exciting and full of opportunities and innovation. I also liked how it was a little unconventional and with little bureaucracy compared to institutions such as banks.
What do I consider your greatest achievements?
My achievements from my day to day work ultimately contribute to the greater good for our off grid, low-income customers. For one, ensuring that these families refrain from using kerosene and use solar solutions for lighting helps reduce pollution. Two, giving financial inclusion of products such as loans to people who may not be accorded these services in mainstream institutions such as banks. Three, ensuring customers receive quality services and products at a fraction of the price and that they enjoy a good life quality. My greatest achievements come from hearing customer testimonials of how our products have changed their lives – kids are able to finish their homework late into the night, businesses are growing and families have a sense of pride.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
It was always challenging being the only woman in the room most of the time but with time you stop noticing this. When I started working I rarely contributed/spoke in meetings – this was to do with my shy personality; nothing to do with my gender. However, as time passed by, I got to learn about the business and really understood the problems we were trying to solve. Slowly I started being more vocal and expressing my opinions and cutting out the interruptions.
It is a challenge for women to rise to higher positions quicker than men from my experience because of company politics. I am still learning to overcome this but hopefully my work’s merit and dedication should speak for itself.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
STEM is diverse and one should not limit themselves. If you feel you are being limited by the opportunities in your country, explore other countries – you might just be surprised at how many opportunities are out here. If you feel you have a calling to solve a major issue using Tech that has not been solved by anyone else, start your own company and look around for people to support your vision. If you are able to clearly articulate the problem you are solving and how you intend to do it, people will listen to you and help you get there.