My name is Vongani Maluleke and I’m from a small town in Limpopo called Giyani. I grew up in a big supportive family with 3 sisters and a brother and I’m the middle child. I am an ambivert, which means that I have both extrovert and introvert traits. I enjoy doing puzzles, painting, and dancing. I love sushi and I’m allergic to shellfish
I got into I.T when I took a Computer Science elective during my undergrad and realised the value of programming as a skill and how useful it can be in solving everyday problems.
My career journey started when I was in third year and I applied for a vacation Data Science internship program at CSIR called Data Science for Impact and Decision Enablement (DSIDE), which gave me the hands-on experience I was looking for, which further ignited the desire to be in the field. I enjoyed the culture and experience so much that I applied again to be part of the program in the following year, and this time I worked on a different problem. When I completed my undergraduate, I got into the CSIR Master’s Studentship program where I got the opportunity to pursue my Master’s in Advanced Analytics and got hands-on experience with delivering end-to-end AI solutions. During the studentship I also got the opportunity to attend local and international AI conferences where I got more exposure to the AI field and the community. After 2 years of being in the studentship program, I joined Deloitte as an AI Consultant where I work with an awesome team to build and deploy AI solutions that addresses clients’ problems.
My day at work typically starts with me going through my meeting appointments for the day and then attending a scrum meeting with my team where we report back on the project’s progress and impediments. This is then followed by some admin work and project-related work with client meetings in-between.
Most of the challenges I’ve faced in this industry stem from gender bias. I remember in one of my first big projects, I was the only woman in the team and it was unanimously decided that my task would be to design the dashboard and to make it look “pretty” and the rest of the team will handle all the technical tasks. I had to prove myself by going over and above what was required of me and used the opportunity to enhance my skills and showcase the depth of my technical and non-technical skillsets.
Working hard does not mean that you must neglect other aspects of life. Strive for a balanced life and be present in moments you cannot go back to.
Do your research, the tech space is big and its easy for you to get intimidated by new trends and buzz words. Remember that a lot of people started where you are, put in the effort to learn and get connected to people who share the same interests as you.
Let your work do the talking.
I hope to leave a legacy of novel AI solutions that address socio-economic problems in Africa and inspires young women to get into AI to make a difference