Sewagodimo Matlapeng – Software developer at Yoco

By on , in Africa, Interviews

My advice for anyone is don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself.  I think as women we live in constant fear of embarrassing ourselves. This is why we are so risk-averse but we need to be more comfortable with doing the things that scare us.  

Sewagodimo Matlapeng is a software developer, tech enthusiast and international tech speaker with a strong technical background as a Computer Science Honours graduate from the University of Cape Town. She has experience with developing continuous integration pipelines and currently works as a full stack developer for Yoco, South Africa’s favourite card payment company.

Sewagodimo founded Indoni developers, a group for Black Women who are Software developers, with a focus on mentorship, skills development and opportunity. She is also the co-lead for Developer Circles from Facebook where she advocates for developer programs that focus on building, community development and entrepreneurship. Sewagodimo uses her Youtube channel “Sunshine in my Code”, to encourage and teach more people how to code, making tech more accessible and showing how global tech trends affect South Africa.

In a nutshell, tell us a bit about your job, and what role technology plays in it?

I am a software developer at Yoco, a payment company based in Cape Town, South Africa. I work on the backend payment system, I am also trying to get my feet into the techOps team. 

Outside of my 9-5, I have a YouTube channel called Sunshine in my Code. I create coding videos and tutorials, I always try to create fun ways to teach people how to code, I recently made a video about data structures and make up. 

I am also the co-lead for developer circles in Cape Town and the co-founder of Indoni Space. We organise monthly workshops to teach women new skills. Every month we have a fun new topic to work teach ladies, it’s always intense, technical and empowering for us the women we teach.

I am also the co-founder Indoni Digital, we are a team of highly skilled developers who are passionate about developing modern technical products. We are excited to launch our first product soon and even more in the future.

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

I started coding in high school, I accidentally chose IT as a subject without knowing what coding is and I fell in love with it. I had an amazing teacher, he was passionate about programming. I didn’t know how to use a computer before taking IT in school so having someone to walk me through it made all the difference. 

I got a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and 3D Gaming at the University of Cape Town. I have been working professionally as a software developer for 2 years now. It has been an amazing journey and I am grateful to everyone who has been supportive of my growth thus far. 

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?

Not sure about over my career but over my lifetime it was to be mobile phones. The technology, the culture and aesthetics of mobile phones has been to breathtaking to watch. I remember when I was growing up and we had the Nokia 3310, I remember when everyone on my street shared a mobile for calling. I remember waiting for my mother to fall asleep so that I could play snake on her phone. Now I can take my youtube videos on my iphone 8. Smartphones have grown with us, although they have had a much better glow up than us.

In a lot of cases being able to effectively communicate expectations, features and issues can save a lot of time.

When you think about ‘women’ and ‘technology’ what comes to your mind first?

I think of my friends from computer science, I remember how we all stuck together for some “unsaid” reason. How we all sat together in the labs like a pack. 

I think of all those machine learning algorithms that have a bais against us.

I think of how the first programmers in the world were women.

I think of the most amazing CTO I have met who is a woman.

We always hear there are not enough women working in tech. What needs to happen to change that?

A lot of companies are always looking for experienced women developers, not a lot are willing to groom young women developers to grow their skills but if no one gives us a chance to gain experience we can’t be the experienced developers who can take your company to the next level. 

What skills do you need for a career in tech (aside from the actual tech skills)?

Communication skills are underrated in this industry. In a lot of cases being able to effectively communicate expectations, features and issues can save a lot of time. It’s much easier to get the help you need if you can communicate it.

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

I try not to think of myself as an entrepreneur but more as a problem solver, I am always pro-actively seeking to solve some of the issues I am passionate about. My advice for anyone is don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself.  I think as women we live in constant fear of embarrassing ourselves. This is why we are so risk-averse but we need to be more comfortable with doing the things that scare us.  

My advice for anyone is don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself.  I think as women we live in constant fear of embarrassing ourselves. This is why we are so risk-averse but we need to be more comfortable with doing the things that scare us. 

What and who were the influencers of who you are today?

My high school teacher, my mother, and all the amazing people in tech who inspire me everyday.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 14-year-old self? 

Trust yourself, you got this!

Sewagodimo Matlapeng is a software developer, tech enthusiast and international tech speaker with a strong technical background as a Computer Science Honours graduate from the University of Cape Town. While in university, she was inducted into the Golden Key honors society for her academic excellence and was also a computer science tutor. She has experience with developing continuous integration pipelines and currently works as a Fullstack developer for Yoco, South Africa’s favourite card payment company.

Sewagodimo founded Indoni developers, a group for Black Women who are Software developers, with a focus on mentorship, skills development and opportunity. She is also the co-lead for Developer Circles from Facebook where she advocates for developer programs which focus on building, community development and entrepreneurship. Sewagodimo uses her Youtube channel “Sunshine in my Code”, to encourage and teach more people how to code, making tech more accessible and showing how global tech trends affect South Africa.

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