Michael Okoye

Using Computing to Solve Problems

Mary Alenoghena
3 min read
Remote Religion is a series which shines a spotlight on the life of a remote tech worker in Africa. We explore the promise and perils of remote work and how to navigate career transition.
In this edition of Remote Religion, we spoke with Michael Okoye, a Senior Software Engineer at Bitso. We talk about his journey into software engineering and his current interest in core blockchain development.

Hi Michael! Please tell me about yourself

Absolutely!  My name is Michael Okoye, I am a software engineer and I've been writing software professionally for about 5 years now. I'm an avid reader, amateur swimmer, casual gamer and an occasional troublemaker. Plus I'm also pretty good at basketball.

How did you get started writing software?

Honestly by accident. When I was about 13 my dad bought a desktop computer for his school. It was for administrative work (of course), but I made that computer play more games than any other work it could do. Eventually, I started to get curious about how these games were built.

I was familiar with the concept of programs but had no clue how they worked. So the gaming continued until my old man got fed up and decided to give me a lecture on how Bill Gates never made his money playing games. Well, it got me thinking, ‘this man has a point, I might as well build my own game’.

Fast forward a few years and I got my first laptop. I decided to start learning how to program so I could build my own game. I had no clue what game I wanted to build, I just knew I wanted to build one.

I picked C++ because I read that it was used to build games (Lol), installed visual studio from Microsoft and got this book "Sam’s teach yourself C++ in 21 days". I quickly found out it takes more than 21 days to teach yourself anything, let alone C++.

I never finished the book, and never built my game, but I got enough knowledge to understand programming in general. This was a seminal point in my life and I knew I wanted to do software long-term.

That's interesting! Not everyone discovers at the age of 15 what they would like to do long-term. You've been writing software professionally for about 5 years now. How has that been?

Overall it has been an exciting journey with both highs and lows. Change is constant in this industry. It keeps you thinking, refining your knowledge, learning and trying out things you never thought you could do. It is an evolutionary and thrilling process and I'm enjoying the journey thus far.

What would you say is your favourite thing about being a software engineer?

Solving problems. Software engineering to me is a means to a very specific end, which is using computing to solve problems. It is a core tenet that I live by daily and I get excited when I see what I've built providing value to people.

That's cool. And your least favourite thing?

The knowledge that these tools have infinite potential for good but also infinite potential to cause harm.

How did you get into the web3 space?

I started gaining interest right around covid. There was so much hype about the technology, and I got curious to figure out what it was about. I started researching but was faced with the challenge of figuring out where to start as there was such an overwhelming amount of information online.

So I just stuck to reading about it in the news and observing the hype on Twitter. Also, I had gotten new employment at a crypto exchange (Bitso) but it wasn't anything deep into crypto.

By a stroke of luck, I got a LinkedIn message from Mary from Stack Shift, and we got talking about the work they do to provide a community for people who intend to transition into the web3 space. I figured it would be a great opportunity and the rest is history.

Do you have plans to go deeper into the space?

Oh yes, I do. I think I've found my niche in core blockchain development. There is exciting work going on in that domain, building the foundation upon which others can rely on. It's akin to how the internet started and how you had engineers building foundational protocols for communication. It's quite exciting and a breath of innovation.

Currently, my interests lie in Polkadot and parachains, I'm currently enrolled in the Polkadot DevCamp and building the basic skillsets I need to dive in fully.

Let’s touch base on how you strive as a remote worker. What’s your typical day like? What are your routines?

My routine is quite simple. A typical day for me starts at 6am, I try to plan my work the day before, so I have an idea of what I need to get done for the day. Then I start work from around 8am. I tend to work in short bursts with intermittent breaks. I think it's called Pomodoro. It works for me, as I tend to get productive work done this way. My team meetings are usually 3 times a week and fall within 4pm, so I try to have lunch before 4pm. Weird!

Sounds like an effective routine. What do you do for fun?

Well, I love hanging out during the weekends, going to the beach, playing video games and just trying out new experiences.I love activity-based events a lot so I tend to do more of those. Hmmm, I might go paint balling again soon.

Sounds like you work hard and play hard😁. That's nice

Yes, I do. I didn’t used to be like this. All this started happening in the last few months

What inspired or led to the new development?

I think I read a tweet about being introverted which inspired me to start going out more and learning how to meet people.

Awesome! So what's the plan for the future?

To buy Nigeria, just kidding. My long-term goal is to become an expert in core blockchain tech and to build a company that provides blockchain solutions to enterprises.

In the short term, however, I intend to build proficiency in Polkadot and parachain tech, land a core blockchain job, and also get myself out there in the web3 community.

Thanks for sharing Michael. How can people connect with you online?

Linkedin, Twitter or Instagram.

Want more content like this?

Thank you!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Read More