Welcome to the next feature in our Leaders in Tech editorial series. Speaking to leaders in the industry to capture their stories, career highs and lows, their trials and successes, their current company and their role, most recent projects, advice to others, and the individuals who they most look up to in the industry.
This week, we talked to Gary Awoyemi, Head Of Engineering at ERA Home Security, to find out more about why he joined the tech industry, what his role entails, what are the challenges he faces as a tech leader, and his advice to aspiring engineers and developers.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
My current role is as Head of Engineering for ERA Smartware. ERA Smartware is the digital division for ERA (the leading lock manufacturer in the United Kingdom) ERA has been designing and manufacturing locks since 1838 and is a leader in the design, development, manufacture, and distribution of innovative solutions for the residential building and home improvement markets.
As Head of Engineering, my roles and responsibilities include:
- Oversee front-end and back-end development teams and their projects
- Monitor reliability and performance of all internal systems to suggest improvements
- QA Management experience across multiple projects, offshore and in-house
- Design strategies for future development projects based on the company’s overall objectives and resources
- Coordinate with external stakeholders for new integrations and tools
Can you tell me a bit about your journey?
My journey into IT and the industry is a unique one. I started my career as a lawyer due to pressures from my parents wanting me to become either a doctor or a lawyer. That was the norm in Nigeria. However, I always had an affinity for computers and computer technology and started self-studying and training myself in the technologies at the time.
The easiest route into the industry at that time was through Software testing so after going on a couple of courses and training with Testing academy, my journey began. It wasn’t easy at first, but thanks to God, one of my first roles taught me a lot and also gave me a wonderful platform.
What drew you to the tech industry?
As a lawyer, you will not have a lot of changes in your career. Yes, the cases may be varied but the core of what you will be doing on a day-to-day basis will be the same.
This is not so in the tech world. Leaps of innovation and changing technologies make sure that no 2 days will be the same. Even our daily stand-up meetings and scrums throw surprises and challenges that we take for granted because we are built and wired that way.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
Most of the entrepreneurs who have tech knowledge and started a company (start-up) inspire me.
From Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Also, the black people in tech who have made it to the top of the pyramid from Tyrone Ahmad-Taylor (vice president of product marketing at Facebook) and Julia Collins (first black woman to co-found a $1 billion company – Zume Pizza) to Jimmy Irvine and Dr. Dre of the Beats fame.
My CTO, Mr. Jey Jeyasingam is very influential in my personal and career development with his mentoring, advice, and wealth of tech knowledge.
How do you keep your team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
It is very important that contributions from your team are valued and that everyone knows that everything is a team effort. As much as we want to promote innovation and individualism, the team is more important than the single efforts of the individual. We all pass or fail together.
What are your current goals?
We are currently working on some projects that will shake up the lock industry. We have just finished and launched a suite of affordable smart home security products that will help protect and keep the people and things you love safe and secure. From the Alarm system to the Indoor, Outdoor, and Floodlight cameras and the ERA Protect video doorbell.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
I would have to say that the proudest time in my career was working as part of the test team on the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
What is the favorite part of your job?
When we get feedback from happy customers after a product launch or software release.
What has been your greatest challenge from working as a tech leader?
Coming from a non-technical background was my biggest challenge but also a great motivation, as I realize that anyone can get there if you put your mind and efforts into it.
What’s the most important risk you took in your career?
It was definitely changing careers from Law to Tech.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
Perseverance and continuous learning are very important for career progression.
Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring engineers and testers who want to grow in the tech industry?
Never give up be focused and always try to have an inquisitive mind. There are a lot of useful and good wikis out there that will help you in your journey and here are a few of them:
- LinkedIn Learning
- Stack overflow