Catherine Kimani is a software engineer at Andela Kenya. Over the last 7 months, while living in Nairobi, she has worked as a backend engineer at Shipwell, an Andela Partner company based out in the United States.
Company Spotlight: Shipwell
Shipwell is a software platform that helps people and companies move freight efficiently. The company is based in Austin, Texas, but has operations in Canada, Mexico, and Europe. The company was founded in 2016 by Greg Price and Jason Traff with a mission to fundamentally change the way the world moves freight. A Techcrunch feature about Shipwell on their recent Series B funding round says "The Austin-based company works with multiple service providers — including the logistics services unicornFlexport— but operates as a marketplace for shippers to connect with freight companies and online tools to manage those shipments. In effect, the company is pitching to any retailer or outlet a version of the proprietary logistics management toolkit that has made Amazon so successful."In the three years since they've been in business, they've connected 25000 trucks, moved 98000 shipments and have tracked freight across 18 million miles.
Remote Hero Spotlight: Catherine Kimani
Catherine has been at Andela since December 2018. She holds a degree in software engineering from Kenyatta University. Apart from building software for a living, Catherine is involved in the Python developer community in Nairobi, helping to nurture and mentor junior software engineers. It is this commitment to building the future of African tech that drew her to Andela, she says, because Andela's mission and hers were aligned.Software engineers at Andela typically work as remote members of engineering teams at hundreds of global companies. Catherine's work at Shipwell is mainly to help with the integration of the various service providers onto Shipwell's platform.
On Wielding Remote Work
When asked about her workflow and how her days typically go, seeing as she works from her city in Nairobi, she says,
"Our work hours are from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm EAT. This means that for meetings involving our remote peers, they have to be scheduled for the morning hours, their time. To ensure sustained communication, we have various tools: we use Slack for regular updates and casual chats, Jira for managing the tickets and conversations around the requirements and testing criteria, etc and GitHub for version control. We have shared daily stand-ups (via Zoom or Hangouts) which allow us to know what everyone is working on and clear blockers early. Overall, everyone has access to everyone and we know to reach out via slack or email to get assistance when needed. Our team also has a manager in the Austin office who helps ensure we remain integrated with them by championing issues that affect us and being our representative in the office."
Catherine's journey to being a software engineer was prompted by an uncommon but cheerful source: a cartoon called Beast Wars, which she loved when she was much younger."I saw on the credits there was a software engineers section. So when the time to choose a university course came, I knew I didn’t want to study Law or Politics, and a Bachelor of Commerce degree seemed overrated to me. In the process, I figured Sales was tough because I am not naturally extroverted, so I concluded my best fit was a combination of business and tech. In the university choices, I picked Computer Engineering but my offer letter invited me to Software Engineering. Since I didn’t know any better, I thought learning software engineering would lead to a career developing cartoons like beast wars."Well, she hasn't done any cartoon or movie programming yet, but her work is helping Shipwell serve more than 4,000 customers per month with supply chains spanning multiple geographies around the world. Maybe she will eventually do some cartoon programming at some point and help bring a story to life that will be loved by millions as well.
Serving as a bridge between the engineering and business sides of an organization, application engineers are highly sought after - and by upskilling in this field, you can set yourself up for an incredibly impactful and lucrative career.