My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.

When Esther started learning about codes, she had no idea tech skills were in so much demand. She simply wanted to gain a new skill to earn a living. Her dream of working in the media was not going as expected. After a trial-and-error phase, a love affair with a tech bro, and a couple of mistakes, Esther found her way to system testing. Here is Esther’s pivot journal.

How it started

As a child, Esther’s dream was to become a newscaster. “I had always pictured myself working with Silverbird, AIT, or BBC. I would always watch 8 pm news on CNN and watched the newscasters intently.” This passion drove her to study mass communication. She got a national diploma in mass communication at the federal polytechnic in Anambra state. Upon completion, she got a job working for a PR company as a staff writer for their news website. She also started a personal blog where she wrote about tourism and travel. After a year, she attended Yabatech to get her higher national diploma. There, Esther tried her hand at social media management and got a few jobs. 

After her HND, Esther tried to get back into the media space. “I reached out to the company I had worked for. I thought my HND would give me an edge. But they wanted me to go through a tedious process. A process that just wasn’t working for me,” she recalls. Eventually, she decided to focus on social media management.


One day, one of her employer’s husband asked her if she knew about programming, coding, and software. “I had no idea. The only knowledge I had of software was what I learned in primary school,” she says. “He told me to try my hands on it. That I could be doing more than handling social media.” Esther had no clue what to do with this information. So she asked her sister whom she knew had some experience with WordPress. “My sister told me not to bother. That it was too hard. She said the man wanted to stress me,” she recalls.

Esther Okafor


Wanting to try it out herself, Esther’s first introduction to tech was programming. She joined the HNG boot camp and took classes on HTML. But it was when Esther started learning about CSS, she began to reconsider her programming dream. “It was harder than I expected,” she says. Esther complained to her then-boyfriend. “I knew he worked for a tech company. But I did not know he was a programmer,’ she says. “He was equally surprised to know I was learning how to code.” He introduced her to free websites like freecodecampW3schools, and Sololearn. Esther learned HTML, Javascript, and C-sharp. But in the middle of learning SQL, Esther became overwhelmed and frustrated. “At the time, I did not know there was money in tech or that the tech ecosystem was thriving, or even how in-demand tech skills are. I just wanted to gain a new skill and at the end of the day, develop websites,” she notes. 

Esther decided she would do her mandatory National Youth Service and figure out what else she could do to start earning money. While serving as a teacher in Osun state, one of her friends told her that the company he worked for, Venture Garden Group, was running a virtual internship/training. He persuaded her to join, going ahead to help her with the onboarding process. “When I was to decide on a track, I saw web development, product design, back end, and many other skills. But then I saw software testing. And I just thought since it just to test the software, it should be easier than actual coding,” she recalls. And so her journey to software testing began. After performing well on the tasks given, Esther got retained as a quality assurance engineer in the company.

Two months into her new job, Esther realized her stint with the internship was nothing compared to the actual work. “While training, there are templates for the tasks. And you are basically asked to duplicate them. But when you are actually handling a job, there is no template. Whatever you are building is from scratch. It was different. I wanted to run away again,” she recalls. Esther had to also deal with settling into tech as one with no technical background. “I hated science as a child. The only thing I had learned about computers was how to type with Microsoft word. So it was hard for me to understand technical concepts,” she says. Three months into her job, Esther was still trying to wrap her head around it. She also had to understand working in a male-dominated team. “There was always the urge to prove that you are equally as good,” she says. “But I took it as a challenge to be better at my job,” she adds.

How it’s going

Esther currently works for fintech unicorn Flutterwave, as a quality assurance analyst. She is responsible for testing software to ensure they are not faulty. A typical day involves interacting with the team lead, product managers, and developers. “We fight a lot with the developers,” she says. “Not literal fights, of course. But because I am testing their codes, there is a lot of back and forth. If I do not certify that a product is actually working, it never makes it out to the public.” 

Before Flutterwave, Esther worked at fintech company, Renmoney. But she got poached after a recruiter from Flutterwave heard her speak on a twitter space. “Someone had reached out to me to speak about quality testing in tech because it does not get as much attention as other jobs in tech. After the space, I got two messages, one from flutterwave and another from a US-based company, saying they were impressed with my knowledge and work. Both messages said there was an opening, and they would like me to come work with their respective teams,” she recalls. Esther applied for both jobs and got the one at Flutterwave.

Although she had no plan to leave Renmoney prior to getting poached, Esther believes it helps to have as much experience working for different companies and products. “I am not saying one should jump from job to job, but if you want to grow you need to have these different experiences. Except you know you are on a good trajectory with a particular company. And your goals align with theirs. Else the company will just move faster than you,” she adds.

Esther is also the co-founder of a b2b e-transport startup called eazyrideng. “I do not intend to change my role as a quality assurance engineer anytime soon. I want to get to a higher position in my role as a quality assurance engineer before I can say I want to do something else in tech. A likely path would be becoming an automation engineer,” Esthers says.

Career hack

Try your hands at different things and public learning. 

“My experience learning programming languages informed my current role. And it helped me understand the principles of software. So if something is not working, keep switching till you find your path. It is also important to engage in public learning. Put yourself out there because people are watching. So that when an opportunity shows up, it is easy for them to recommend you.” 

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