GirlCode profile : Linda Khumalo

Please tell us a little bit about yourself ?

When I am not lost in one fictional world or another, I work as a Data Science Consultant in the Data Analytics and Cognitive team at Deloitte Consulting.

Walk us through your career journey and how you got into I.T?

My career in IT began when I enrolled at the University of the Witwatersrand to study Electrical Engineering. It was during this time that I fell in love with programming which is one of the main reasons why I applied to the CSIR’s Data Science for Impact and Decision Enablement (DSIDE) vacation work program. It was there that I was introduced to the world of Machine Learning. After graduating, I enrolled in a Master’s degree while working in the Data Science Research Group on a Master’s studentship at the CSIR. After two years, I joined Deloitte as a Consultant where I work on machine learning, data analytics, visualisation, and software development projects.

What is your typical day like at work?

My day typically starts with a daily scrum or team check-in. This is followed by answering emails and eventually settling down to tackling items on my to-do list for the day. These items range from drawing insights from data to finding solutions to problems faced by a wide variety of clients; through visualising data, implementing statistical and machine learning algorithms, developing software, and brainstorming creative yet still, scientific problem-solving ideas.

Have you experienced any challenges as a female in this industry and how did you overcome them?

One major challenge that comes to mind is the subtle and sometimes, overt underestimation of your skills. I counter this by doing my work to the best of my ability, voicing my ideas and speaking up about my contributions in direct defiance of that little voice inside that dares women to shrink themselves and dim their light, and most importantly, by seeking advice from people who have faced similar challenges because, experience, is a great teacher.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?

As a human, you are always growing and learning. You are never fully formed. Sometimes, it might not feel like it, but it is happening, so do not ever regret your decisions and choices. They led you to who you are now. They will lead you to who you will become and whoever that is, has something unique to offer to the world.

What’s your advice for other girls considering getting into the tech space?

There are a lot of incredible women from all walks of life in the tech space. Find your peers, find the women who have paved the way for you, find the women who inspire you, the women you want to be like, the women who remind you of a younger you, and create a network, or join their existing network. They will be your support system, they will teach you things you never knew you had to learn, you will grow together, you will support each other and they will give you perspective when you need it the most.

What is your motto in life?

There is no rulebook, we are all just winging it, so live your truth whenever you can.

Lastly, what do you hope to leave behind as your legacy?

I want to change the lives of women and girls across the continent of Africa for the better; and ultimately, inspire other women to do the same.

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