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Don’t let anything stop you from succeeding

    08 Nov 2021
Don’t let anything stop you from succeeding
Murendeni Mukwevho, a front-end engineer at DotModus, is committed to making a difference through technology. His experience in overcoming challenges goes back to his school days and growing up with no or limited access to the Internet or even basic career information – and this is the bedrock for his passion behind his NGO involvement.

It may seem unlikely that the role model of Murendeni Mukwevho, Front-end Engineer at DotModus, is Professor Mashudu Tshifularo, head of Otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) at the University of Pretoria. But it makes sense: Murendeni and Professor Tshifularo both hail from the same rural village called Mbahela, about 30km from Thohoyandou in Limpopo, and both are committed to making a difference through technology.

Professor Tshifularo made South African history in 2019 by using innovative 3D technology to print the bones that make up the middle ear and successfully implanted the model into a trauma patient. Murendeni says, “The fact that he grew up in my village and led the team to use 3D-printed bones for a middle-ear implant inspires me to achieve more, despite being from a deep rural area.”

As it is, Murendeni is writing success into his life.

As a school boy, he had dreams of becoming an aeronautical engineer – he loved maths – until a motivational speaker came to his school, Tshivhase Secondary in Thohoyandou, and told them about computer science. He was sold, and began his studies, but was forced to drop out in second year because of a lack of funding. However, he had perseverance on his side, and he joined a web development company in Johannesburg.

He worked in web development for about four years and then, as the pandemic struck, he opted to expand his horizons. He applied for a position at DotModus, becoming the first appointee at the company during hard lockdown.

He rose to the challenge of starting his new job while working from home, and says, “Working alone from home taught me a new way of building relationships with people I hadn’t met, which is different to how it is when you meet colleagues every day at the office. You also have the opportunity to work at your own pace and in your own space.”

At the time of joining DotModus, Murendeni was enthusiastic. “All my colleagues have been welcoming and helpful whenever I needed support. I had expected getting help from strangers over chat or email would be more difficult, but it was the opposite.” The support was all-encompassing. Murendeni says agile practices were new to him and he had to change how he looked at his work, “but with the help of DotModus’s agile coaches, adapting was easy.”

Murendeni’s experience in overcoming challenges goes back to his school days and growing up with no or limited access to the Internet or even basic career information – and this is the bedrock for his passion behind his NGO involvement. He collects and sends educational material back to schools in his home area through a local outreach programme called Muhotoni CFFC Career Team, and is also a facilitator with GirlCode SA, a nationwide network of volunteer-led coding clubs designed for girl learners who want a foundation in basic programming skills.

His advice to young people considering careers in technology is firm. “Be willing to learn and don’t let anything stop you. If I can succeed in a career without a tertiary education, you can too. I spent lots of time online teaching myself, and even though it wasn’t easy, I didn’t let that stop me. Find a role model – someone who inspires you – and rely on them during times when you want to give up.”

Unsurprisingly, Murendeni is a devotee of ‘diversity by inclusion’. “The more people who are represented, the better the end result. When we’re building something, and, for example, only men are involved in the project, it will only suit men. But if a diverse group is involved, the product is likely to suit everyone. I believe diversity encourages innovation as well as problem-solving in the workplace.”

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