My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Chineye Ochem is a maverick; an unorthodox and free-spirited individual that wants to do things differently. Immediately after her NYSC, she led a 6-year-career in accounting, business and finance working with Ahmed Zakari & Co (an audit firm in Lagos) and later with PWC. But like a bird, Ochem wanted to see beyond the horizon. To fly freely. She wanted something more sustainable and switching to tech was the next big step to take.
How it started
Ochem had a degree in Accounting from the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria. She had about six years of experience working in the field until 2019 when she became interested in data science and business analysis. Having been on the lookout for an opportunity to switch to tech, she started research on how to apply technology in finance. Then in 2021, she took an MBA with Nexford University, specialising in Advanced AI and the Future of Automation. “During my MBA, an opportunity came with AjoMoney and I jumped at it,” said Ochem.
In early 2019, after observing the trends with the increasing use of technology in the day to day lives of many Africans, Ochem resolved that tech is the future. The fact that Africans were becoming more conscious of how to use technology to solve very important problems triggered the co-founder’s interest in the field. More so, she realised that technology could make some career fields like accounting obsolete. “Whether we like it or not, technology is beginning to make some fields and some career paths obsolete while creating new paths,” she said. The technopreneur didn’t want to be stuck with an uncertain future so she took a leap. “No one wants to be stuck doing things that are already obsolete. I’m young and I want to easily be able to pivot to the future. Tech is the future,” she said.
Ochem quit her job in 2021 and joined AjoMoney as co-founder, COO and CFO. AjoMoney is a digital rotating money-saving group that helps people to save, lend, borrow and earn money. At AjoMoney, Ochem uses technology to track cash flow, plan the company’s finances, analyze the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses, and propose strategies. AjoMoney was about to launch at the time of her transition, but they needed someone with extensive knowledge of business and finance on their team. “That was how I came in. Based on some business experiences I have had and also things I learned during my MBA, it became easy for me to handle operations and support the team,” she said.
How it’s going
The company is only a year old and employs only a few people. Ochem, who doubles as the COO and CFO, is in charge of the financial and administrative aspects of the company, ensuring a smooth operation, which has been quite a challenge for her. “It is not easy. I think it’s my biggest challenge, ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks, managing the staff, finance, and everything else in the business,” she said. Still, she manages to stay on top of everything. Since its launch in 2021, AjoMoney has recorded over $100,000 worth of transactions.
Don’t be scared to move. “Don’t think because you’ve grown in one career path, you can’t pivot to a different one. Do it if you think it’s the next best thing for you. Take that step and start building from where you are,” said Ochem.