Episode 143 – Learn To Face Your Fears and Become a Continual Learner with Ruth Yakubu
Phil’s guest on today’s show is Ruth Yakubu. She is a Senior Cloud Developer at Microsoft and founded PoshBeauty.com. Ruth started her IT career in 2001 as a Software Engineer for UNISYS, moving on to become a Manager and Software Engineer with Accenture before setting up PoshBeauty.com.
Over the years, she has become a specialist in Java, AI, Advanced Analytics, Data Platform and the Cloud. She is also a well-known speaker who has spoken at large conferences including Devoxx, DeveloperWeek and TechSummit.
(1.11) – So Ruth, can you expand on that brief introduction and tell us a little bit more about yourself? Ruth thanks Phil for his introduction and explains that he has summarized her career well. But, she goes on to speak a litter about her public speaking role. Her main aim with much of her public speaking is to get everyone energized about Azure technologies. To help people to see how to use it to solve their problems.
Ruth also explains that she now works with a lot of startups. Helping them to solve their technology issues regardless of where they are on their journey to success.
Microsoft has a lot to offer start-ups. For example, they can get up to 120,000 credits in the Agile cloud. Providing start-ups with somewhere to do their proof of concept work and build their businesses.
There is a growing demand from startups for this type of help. They really benefit from and appreciate the fact that the Microsoft team circles back to check in and see how they are doing. A lot of entrepreneurs are not tech savvy, so having someone who can lead them through the options that are available is invaluable.
They also need help in hiring developers and working out if they are actually using the best architecture. It is not uncommon for what is built originally not to be right for the business in the long-term, which means it has to be stripped down and re-built using the correct architecture. Ruth helps entrepreneurs to build things right the first time and avoid this costly mistake.
Ruth and her team enable firms to identify the best tech option for them. This prevents them from wasting time and money trying to find their way while their competitors surge ahead.
In many cases, they can also help B2B startups find new customers. Microsoft helping in this way results in more consumption, by the startups, of Microsoft’s products. So, it is very much in everyone’s interests for the startups to find clients and do well.
(7.45) – Can you please share a unique career tip with the I.T. career audience? After 15 years in the industry, Ruth knows that it is vital to keep on learning. You have to keep up and stay relevant.
Everyone has to do this, companies as well as individuals. For example, Amazon, with its AWS offering, is now moving from being a physical product seller to being a service provider. Microsoft is also constantly transforming itself. Today, they are one of the leading cloud providers. Very quickly Microsoft has gone from being mainly a software provider to offering a long list of IT services.
To be able to stay relevant, you need to learn to track the market trends. If you don’t do that you will soon be left behind.
(10.55) – Can you tell us about your worst career moment? And what you learned from that experience. Despite some warning signs during the interview, Ruth took a job mostly because it was well-paid. Inevitably, she quickly realized that she hated the job and had taken a wrong turn in her career. Up until that point she had followed her professor’s advice to only take job’s she loved and not to be tempted by the money. Fortunately, that happened early in her career, so she was soon able to get things back on track.
(13.32) – What was your best career moment? Ruth has been lucky enough to experience several great moments in her career. But for her, founding PoshBeauty.com proved to be her pivotal moment.
She was full of trepidation while she was building the business. But, she plowed forward and proved that the idea was sound. Building her own startup opened many doors for her and she uncovered talents and abilities she had no idea she possessed.
She ran the company for 5 years, before stepping away and joining Microsoft. The whole experience taught her not to be afraid of stepping outside of her comfort zone. Facing your fears is the only way to move forward.
When Ruth joined Microsoft, she had to push herself to conquer her fear of public speaking, so she could become a more effective Developer Advocate. The first time she spoke to a large crowd, she nearly passed out. But, today getting up in front of people, in large or small groups is much easier, something she has learned to enjoy doing.
Plus, importantly it enables her to stand up and show others that look like her that working in IT is possible for them. Overcoming her fear has benefited her and others in many different ways.
(18.04) – Can you tell us what excites you about the future of the IT industry and careers? Not knowing what is going to happen next, keeps Ruth on the edge of her seat. Currently, she is particularly excited by what is happening in the field of AI.
This tech is having an impact in so many interesting ways. For example, some firms are starting to use it to help them to make internal business decisions. There are more intelligent applications coming out in the form of bots and apps. We are getting to the stage where these apps can learn about you and what you need, then intuitively point out things that will help you in so many different ways. They are enhancing our lives and will do so far more in the future.
(20.15) – What drew you to a career in IT? Ruth explained that she was supposed to work in the medical field. But, that was her parent’s dream, not hers. Especially because she was good at computer science. When she saw her what her older brother was able to do using code she knew a career in IT was for her too.
The problem was that, at the time, there were virtually no women working in the IT field. But, Ruth decided to just take a leap of faith and fight for what she wanted.
(21.44) – What is the best career advice you have ever received? Ruth’s favorite piece of advice was given to her by her mentor at Accenture who told her to go back and try new things. At first, she hated doing this. But, as the years progressed, she built up a huge pool of knowledge because she had pushed herself to try new things.
(22.31) – If you were to begin your IT career again, right now, what would you do? Ruth says she would trust her instincts and step out more. When she first started out she let the feeling that she was not quite good enough get in her way. If she were to start again, she would step out and find things she loved doing on her own rather than waiting for others to tell her what to pursue.
She would also learn more languages. It is important not to be closed minded. To always be broadening your horizons.
(23.50) – What are you currently focusing on in your career? Right now, her main aim is to help women involved in the STEM industries. The graduation rate of women in computer science has gone down. In 2015, 30% of graduates were women, but in 2017 only 16% were. Something Ruth finds very troubling.
When she graduated only 5 women were on the stage. There were no females out there to vote count her graduation class. These two facts are pushing her to play a part in changing things for the better.
She learned a huge amount from her start-up journey. So, she is also very focused on sharing that knowledge and advocating for entrepreneurs, so they can succeed.
(23.57) – What is the number one non-technical skill that has helped you the most in your IT career? Ruth’s secret weapon is humor and being easy going. She has always cherished her teams and tried to get along with everyone, which she finds keeps things positive. She also treats everyone with respect regardless of how significant their role is perceived to be by others.
(26.20) – Phil asks Ruth to share a final piece of career advice with the audience. Ruth says it is important to remember that IT touches and impacts the lives of everyone. So, whatever you are working on always do it for the good.
(5.46) RUTH – “Our goal is to help you build things right the first time and stay competitive”
(8.15) RUTH – “You have to adapt and learn new things”
(13.25) RUTH – “There are a lot of factors that you need to take into consideration, not just money when you’re embarking on a new career.”
(16.17) RUTH – “The more you face your fears, and you conquer them, the better, once you’ve eliminated one handicap you can move on to conquer another one”
(27.23) RUTH – “Enjoy the ride but always use IT for the good.”