My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Just before my virtual meeting with Temitope Olagoke, he requested that we delay for a few minutes. It wasn’t a problem, especially since we had previously rescheduled this meeting on short notice. But it was interesting to find out that those extra minutes he needed were to complete an online course. It wasn’t surprising. Our conversation had already shown he is passionate about data analytics. However, he wasn’t always a ‘tech bro’. It’s only the latest turn in a seven-year-long career journey.
How it started
Temitope’s early dream was to work in the health sector. So he spent five years studying Health Information and Clinical Coding at the School of Health Information Management, OAU Teaching Hospital. In 2015, he got his first job as a health records officer.
His hunger for growth was apparent and paid off in his career. “I don’t like appearing like I don’t know my job,” Temitope said. “I take what I do very seriously.”
In eight months, Temitope got a new job as a Health Records Manager, where he spent the next four years heading the department at a bigger hospital. “I learnt a lot there and grew very fast,” he said. “I was doing so much more than just handling clinical data. At a point, I even took on administrative duties. I always had new responsibilities. I loved that experience.”
Temitope’s pursuit of growth and new challenges made him work at more hospitals. In September 2020, he resumed in Havana Specialists Hospital as a Health Information Specialist. It was his fourth job, and his proficiency was no longer up for debate.
But Temitope started getting bored. He had gone through the ups and downs of managing and handling health information for six years. “I realised the job wasn’t as challenging as expected,” he said. “It wasn’t even as challenging as we discussed during the interview. There was no day there was a problem I didn’t already have a solution to. It’s not a bad thing, but it also meant I was no longer growing. New challenges force us to grow.” Thus, Temitope decided to take on a new challenge.
“Because of my kind of job, I had always been interested in data. We deal with a lot of patient data. But we just collect data and don’t do anything out of the ordinary with it. I even considered studying informatics. So when I started seeking a new challenge, I chose data analytics.”
The first time Temitope tried learning data analytics, it did not work out. “I tried learning PowerBI in 2020, but it just didn’t stick. I enrolled in a training programme where we spent 4 hours learning it. We were supposed to pay about N100,000 to further our training. But I barely understood what I learnt on the first day, so I didn’t continue.”
In August 2021, Temitope had a stronger resolve. So he decided to embark on a self-taught journey into data analytics. “The first thing I did was type ‘best way to learn data analysis’ on Google. There were many results, but one of them suggested I start with Microsoft Excel. That was really helpful for me. I understood why the first training I went for didn’t work out. I should have started with Excel before learning PowerBI.”
Temitope started consuming as many YouTube tutorials on Microsoft Excel as he could. It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with his new interest. “It was like meeting a new lover. I was always excited to learn something new about Excel. It was fascinating to see what data could reveal. For instance, we use a thumbprint scan to clock in at work, so you can’t lie about when you arrived. Now taking that data and analysing it gives you fascinating results about your employees.”
Temitope recounts learning everything he knows for free on the internet. “Everything I learnt was free. I know people might prefer to pay someone to train them or buy the courses they learn with. But for me, I never paid a dime.”
On YouTube, he started with lengthy videos such as Simplilearn’s 4-hour-long tutorial and shorter ones from Mynda Treacy’s training hub. “Mynda Treacy’s videos helped me a lot,” he said. “I did my first visualisation using her tutorials.” Then he progressed to free courses such as Udacity’s ‘SQL for data analysis and taking coupons for Ahmed Oyelowo’s Udemy course on PowerBI. “Oyelowo gives out at least 1000 coupons at the beginning of every month. He always posts the links on his Twitter and LinkedIn. That course really made PowerBI simple for me.”
However, Temitope had challenges, the chief of them being loneliness. “It was a very lonely journey. I had no one to talk to about what I was doing. There was no one to ask for help when I had issues. I even used to tweet about it, but no one engaged. So I always had to find the answers to my questions myself.” He also had to be cautious while sharing his learning progress with the public. “I used to replicate the works in the tutorials I watched. But even after I got the hang of them, I couldn’t share them on social media. Many of them have copyrights that I didn’t want to risk breaching. So until I did my own projects, I did not share my work, even though I was always excited about it.”
Meanwhile, his superiors at work noticed what he was doing as he usually spent his break periods on YouTube. By the end of the year, he was offered a new role as his hospital’s Data Analyst. However, it came with no financial benefit. “They didn’t increase my salary. Instead, I left the HR’s office that day holding two roles.” But he didn’t mind. He was excited that he’d finally be able to practise the skills he had learnt for the past four months. “I’m grateful that I didn’t have to look for a job to gain experience as an analyst. The first job is usually the hardest to find.”
When I asked about his motivation, Temitope recalled going through stories of people who have succeeded in his field. “Whenever I see people giving testimonies on social media that they have landed roles in top companies like Microsoft, I get motivated to continue what I’m doing.“
How it’s going
Work became more exciting for Temitope since he became a data analyst. “There are always new problems to solve,” he said.
His first foray was to analyse his company’s financial data. After that, he extended his reach to other fields, such as patient data.
However, it’s not devoid of challenges. “Sometimes, it gets exhausting. I have to also negotiate unrealistic deadlines for projects. It takes time to compile data without bias, but sometimes the management wants it quicker.”
Today, Temitope’s work is paying off as he resumes a new role as a Product as Strategy Analyst at a Health Insurance company. “The pay is much highere than what I earned before. And I don’t even have up to one year of experience yet.”
Howbeit, his learning experience is far from over. Encouraged by his progress, Temitope is learning aggressively. “I’ve been learning Python and connecting more with people in my field on social media. Some of us even share resources with one another now.”
“Never take extended breaks.”
“Don’t lose momentum on whatever you’re learning. Maintain your pace. Even when you have to take a break, don’t do it for too long. Otherwise, you’ll start doubting yourself and lose interest.”