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Women’s Day 2023: A Conversation with Keneilwe

Women's Day 2023

In celebration of Women’s Day 2023, we sit down with an inspirational force in the tech world, a woman who’s gracefully balanced the spheres of technology and motherhood – our very own Keneilwe Mokoka.

With a career spanning eight years, from Java integration to business process management, she’s made her mark in various industries – financial, telecommunications, agricultural, and mining. Check out our women’s day 2023 video interview, or read the interview below!

Women’s Day 2023

Tell us a bit about your background

I worked as a developer for about eight years, doing a bit of Java integration and business process management. I’ve worked in the financial, telecommunication, agricultural and mining industries. I’ve also worked on global projects in Brazil and Australia. I still work on global projects, though remotely. A project that I worked on as a tech lead in 2019 was voted best project by the client, so that was a proud moment in my career.

And around the year 2020, I was asked to be a delivery lead, and I’ve been doing that ever since. I look after mainly our integration projects. I also put together project proposals for clients and also help with solutioning projects for clients. I do a little bit of account management as well, and I still do some dev work whenever required. On the home front, I am a mom to a two-year-old little girl and wife to the best I ever.

How did your career in tech start?

I started my career as a junior developer and a financial institution right after I graduated from university. I moved on to consulting afterwards, and I have been a consultant with various IT companies since the year 2015.

What was an unexpected challenge you faced as a woman in tech, and how did you navigate through it?

I think one of the most interesting challenges I’ve ever had is a recruiter asking me if I plan on falling pregnant in time soon. I obviously didn’t entertain that offer any further. I wasn’t planning on falling pregnant at that time, but I am a woman. So you are basically already telling me that I won’t be embraced as a woman wherever you are taking me.

Women's Day 2023

Can you share a time when you realised your impact as a woman went beyond coding?

I get involved in my junior’s issues at work all the time. I’m constantly backing them up if they have down moments that are impacting their self-esteem. I’m passionate about ensuring that juniors don’t have any traumatic experiences that they would need to heal from in the future. I try to be a support system that I didn’t necessarily have when I started working.

Is there someone you look up to that other women in tech could also learn from?

I’ve worked with some of the most incredible female devs in my line of work who have now become very close friends of mine, Dimakatso, Nikiwe, Zey, to name a few. They are passionate about craft, committed to not only writing code, but writing clean, efficient code that will be easily maintained. They’re also committed to learning, constantly acquiring new skills to stay relevant.

What advice would you give to women who want to get into the tech industry?

I think one of the best things one can do is to just always be yourself. Be bold, you know, don’t downplay your capabilities and what you have done. Remember that you too belong in the space. There is a need for more female representation in the industry. So please come through and stay the course.

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