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ASI Game Changers: Meet Josiah in Kenya

Our “ASI Game Changers” series introduces the people who make our work possible and allows us to learn about what drives them in their quest to create lasting impact in some of the world’s most challenging, complex environments. In this edition we are speaking to our colleague Josiah Opiyo.

  • Name: Josiah Opiyo
  • Role: Regional ICT & SharePoint Administrator
  • Location: Nairobi, Kenya

What’s your big “why”? What’s the positive change/impact you and others in your field are trying to achieve and what are some of the challenges you face whilst doing so?

I have always had a fascination with technology. In this information age particularly, we have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips that we can easily and creatively use to bring together and formulate new strategies, innovations, and plans that are vital in the workplace. Tech generally allows companies to penetrate markets faster and provide a better connection to developing markets, which can lead to bigger and better opportunities, especially in developing countries. There’s so much potential for technological use and progress in Africa in particular, and I get excited to think about all the possibilities that tech holds for my continent.

I work as part of the Business Support Team in IT, and I enjoy this immensely as it allows me to be innovative. It provides me with an opportunity and exposure at a global level to get involved in different initiatives. This allows me to better understand problems and proactively be part of the team providing business and development related solutions while enhancing a confident attitude to take risks and get things done knowing that we are transforming lives out there.

Our everyday lives have been transformed by ICT, the internet and mobile devices. Everything is going online, from instant data access to social media, e-commerce, mobile communication to cloud computing and the internet of things. We live in a global knowledge-based world, where communication technology and the internet infrastructure have had a great impact on trade and development. Investing in ICT is critical for driving job creation and e-commerce. Although the production of ICT goods and services is an industry in itself, there is still a long way to go before everyone can participate in this evolving information economy. Developing countries and transition economies need strategies and partnerships to grow their information economies so that everyone can participate in line with United Nation’s 2030 agenda of sustainable development.

If you could write your own job title that best describes what you do here, what would it be?

That’s a tough one…titles have never really mattered to me as long as I had the opportunity to make a difference out there. I’m motivated by the fact that, when I leave work at the end of a shift, I know I’ve helped make a positive difference in the world by contributing to the larger goal of transforming lives across various sectors and geographies.

However, to answer the question, I’d think of myself as an enabler – supporting the business activities/functions needed for smooth business operation. As an enabler, innovation is a very critical component as it can open up a world of possibilities.

What do you like about working in a global development company?

I really like the diversity (gender, nationality and ethnic background) it offers. We recognise that poverty has no borders. Neither does excellence. Besides working as part of a team with incredible people who have different levels of experience from around the world, ASI offers you the opportunity to experience different cultures, work styles, and time zones. The ASI model platform offers great opportunities for personal growth and development.

By tapping into our global reach, we can also work closely with governments to design policies that will have a positive impact on the poor, and help them access social and infrastructure services as well as good jobs to achieve sustainable results.

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your project/at work right now?

As the SharePoint Administrator with a background in Software development, I am constantly looking at innovative ways to leverage on the available technologies by creating custom solutions that enhance efficiency in the organisation such as a so called “eJMP” (electronic travel management system) – a strategic approach to managing corporate and project travel in the region (Africa). The system has immensely helped in travel coordination and tracking and makes evacuations easier in emergencies – we work in some of the world’s most complex areas, so knowing who is where at all times is crucial in being able to respond in extraordinary circumstances. Our duty of care is second to none and IT systems such as these help us in maintaining our reputation in this regard, and more importantly, upholding the safety of our staff. I also get excited by helping projects and other business support services in knowledge management. Preserving knowledge across teams and geographies and finding ways how to make it accessible is so important but often overlooked. Being able to work on the corporate memory that could improve the way we deliver projects in the future is meaningful and I am quite enthusiastic to be part of this aspect of our work.

What movements or discussions inspire you generally right now?

I am really inspired by the technology ecosystem in Kenya – the Silicon Savannah. It’s a space full of transformative innovations conceived in the minds of and implemented by Kenyan firms.

The ICT sector remains a key driver of Kenya’s vision 2030 which will see the country attain the status of a middle-income nation. Through ICT, the government has become more efficient, more accountable and more transparent. Given this positive experience, the government expects the sector to play an even greater role in national development in government.

I also love seeing that Mental Health at the workplace is spoken more of and it’s becoming less and less of a stigma. It can be the small things like this that make a difference for people really.

What volunteering or passion projects do you do outside of work?

A few years ago, close friends from university and I started an initiative to help disadvantage children in Nairobi. We collect cash, buy essential food items and toiletries, and visit children’s homes in Nairobi. When we are there, we cook for the kids, play with them, read stories and just generally spend some productive time with them. It means a lot to us to be able to meaningfully participate in our community and even more so if we can somehow make a little difference in the life of our new generations.

Not everything I do in my free time is this meaningful though (laughs): As an outlet, the gym is my go-to place. I love beginning my day at the gym as it ‘powers’ me to tackle the day ahead

What’s a quality a game changer should have and what’s your ambition to be one?

The qualities a game changer should have are purpose and awareness of and sensitivity to others. Game changers must understand the value of serving something beyond themselves. Insensitive people seldom change the game. The best leaders are sensitive to others: they listen, they observe, they find solutions to challenges they see others struggle with. We have grown up to believe that good leaders are tough, unapproachable, and some know it alls who make decisions and then dictate those to everyone, but the truth is that good leaders are actually good collaborators.

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