Human 0001

ID : 0001

Human : Adonis Simo

Country: Cameroon

Domain: Cloud Engineering , Full stack development

Job Profile: Tech Product Manager

It’s Valentine’s day across the world and it was a unanimous decision taken by the team at ‘Finding Humans in tech’ to finally materialise a project so dear to us for so long.

This was our ode to the Tech Community that has given us so much more than our professions. Every one of us started out somewhere, fascinated by a technology that goes beyond any imaginable barriers . So it had to be today- a day where we celebrate who and what we love.

Introducing our first human

So here we are introducing our first human in the series. A dashing cloud engineer from the Central African country of Cameroon. In the world of Greek Mythology, the name ‘Adonis‘ has references to the mythical God of beauty and desire. He wasn’t just as stunning as his namesake, but also a wonderfully kind mentor and one of the coolest techie you would meet in a town . He navigates the world of cloud engineering and product management flawlessly.

Portrait : Adonis Simo

Growing up in Cameroon

Growing up in a cosmopolitan set-up at the heart of Cameroon, he proudly tells me about how almost every other Cameroonian grew up bilingual. His French really amazed me as I have been trying to master the language for a couple of years now . I attempted a disastrous greeting in French. He was kind enough to pretend it was good enough for him to decode what I had said. But that was Dodo; he doesn’t have a mean bone in him to tell me how awful it was . Our team had nicknamed him ‘Dodo‘ , derived from the extinct bird of Mauritius, after attending one of his mentorship sessions and being awestruck by this wonderful human.

His recollections of his childhood wouldn’t be complete without food. The simple Cassava, a stable diet in so many African countries, stirred up a few memories for both of us. Steaming hot Cassava cakes’ aroma would fill his home on weekends. Dodo fondly recalls growing up in a mixed neighborhood filled with diverse cultures in the Littoral region. It was food that would bring people together on Sundays.

Diversity is what he feels appeals to him most about Cameroon. Having lived in several places across the country, he fondly recollects his days in Doula where one would just walk in one of those famous multi-cuisine restaurants and one would see various nationalities dining together. It indeed proved the point of Cameroon being known as a ‘Mini-Africa’.

It also made me realize how his cosmopolitan upbringing has shaped up his identity. Here was a mentor who really puts everyone at ease and would easily strike up a friendship with anybody in a team.

La vie c’est devant

Adonis Simo, 2022

Starting out in the tech space

His journey in the tech world has its roots in a family friend’s backyard. His parents would take him along to visit this family who had this cool collection of new as well as used computers and their parts in their backyard. And while the adults would converse and dine, he would just sit out and type imaginary codes on the broken keyboards and dream of a day when he would finally be able to write programs like the ones he saw on TV.

He had another pretty engaging reason for choosing computer science as his major. He narrated this rather amusing story about how he missed his Church’s Sunday school and went over to his friends’ to watch the movie ‘The Matrix Revolutions’. And there was this word called ‘Algorithm’ uttered by one of the main characters that fascinated him.

So I asked him if Neo had been the inspiration all along, he laughs and tells me ,’Il est possible‘.

As a child, he didn’t grasp the meaning behind such an alluring word. It was years later that he would connect the dots.

His fondest memory includes how he and his friends would catch up on intense gaming sessions after school.

When I prod him on what games they leaned towards.

Pat came to the reply- ‘ Need for speed’. The millennial within us was in splits.

One can’t beat those classic racing video games we grew up with!

He remembers changing schools often and relocating to different places. In one of the schools he attended, there was this new subject called ‘Introduction to Algorithms’ which was taught by a very unconventional teacher who didn’t believe in the idea of pre-reads or notes. That intrigued him further. He spend the next few weeks just diving deeper into the subject. There was never any confusion on what he would major in.

Pascal was the first language he learned and he contently tells me how he could translate the algorithms he learned in school into codes.

There is a saying that good teachers bring out the best in their students. He reminds me of a brilliant professor he had in University, Mr. Omgba Celestin. Professor Celestin would give these tech whizzes projects to work on and pair up teams with different skill-sets and learning capabilities. Nobody’s project would get graded unless every member of that team showed up and explained the project on their terms. No team member had to be left behind. This was indeed a quality I saw in Dodo as well, he would casually switch over from explaining complex data structures and algorithms to set up a junior’s GitHub profile with ease. There was never any judgment on anybody’s skills or experiences, he embraced each individual’s learning phase. The professor indeed did a good job teaching those young techies the power of teamwork and kindness.

Dodo’s Alma mater

Advices to young technologists

When I ask him what advice he would give to his younger self, he tells me he would love to have been open to trying out more technologies. Just sticking to one language or tool because you find it easier isn’t exactly the best plan forward. One has to be aware of the new technologies emerging in the tech domain and be flexible enough to learn any new skill required.

‘Réactualiser’ or being open to updating yourself is what he feels is the need of the hour.

He stresses how important it is to break things to learn them. If a certain code doesn’t work the way you intend it to, you rewrite it again a couple of times and find different ways to implement it.

And one thing he wishes he could tell everybody starting out in the tech space is that no one knows everything .

He exclaims ,’C’est impossible!’. And I couldn’t agree more.

Even as a seasoned programmer, he sighs and tells me how he still has to sometimes google up solutions too.

We both agreed that no matter how many years of experience you conjure up, the learning never ends. Tech is such a dynamic and evolving space.

So there is no pressure to know everything under the sun. He wants people to learn to enjoy the process of writing up their first ‘Hello World’ and stepping into a world that will fascinate them every single day. He wants beginners to not hesitate to seek help. Having a mentor or a support community is important in the initial days to get through the steep learning curve.

A Vibrant busy Street in Cameroon

The tech ecosystem in Cameroon

Dodo represents the new and upcoming breed of passionate technologists in the African sub-continent. He and his friends organize several coding camps and developer meetups. They are working selflessly to spread computer literacy in their regions and expose the youth to a world unbeknownst to them.

I had inquired about how they unwind on days they leave their superhero capes at home. He flashes a million-dollar smile and he informs me of a hip resto called ‘Friends Food – Bonamoussadi‘ at his hometown Doula. One can often spot him and his friends like the ‘Don man’ Axel gulping down Guinness with their famous ‘Shawarma‘ platter. Or ordering out the famous ‘Bitchakala’ in his favorite diner called ‘Tchop Et Yamo‘ with his ‘Combi’s‘. If there was one thing that brought together Cameroonians, it was aliments. Food was indeed a celebration.

He laments how the tech industry is still in its nascent stage and it had miles to go before it could be comparable to the outside world. He endearingly tells me he hopes someday the tech giants would set up their bases in his hometown too. The work-from-home set-up has definitely opened up more job opportunities for developers and has proved a boon for skilled techies located in remote places. But there was still a long way to go.

The kind of opportunities and remunerations that a lot of techies from technologically advanced countries take for granted is a rare sight here and I had to enquire Dodo’s opinions on it.

He gleefully tells me of a famous quote in Cameroon .

La vie c’est devant‘.

Always look ahead in life.

And that entirely sums up Dodo. Always looking at the bright side of things.

Here was a group of passionate developers and technologists determined to change their narrative and the world around them by upskilling themselves and working tirelessly to get their skillsets noticed on a competitive global tech space.

All superheroes don’t wear capes , do they?

The future ahead

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is one domain that has fascinated him lately. He sees a future where a lot of development processes will be automated. He is particularly intrigued by its applications in blockchain technology and crypto. And just the way ‘Algorithms’ change the course of Dodo’s career, one can bet that A.I. will be another domain he would excel in. He also reminds me of how the ‘Metaverse’ world would revolutionize social media as we know it today.

He points out that as digitalised systems become the norm, the cloud domain is only getter bigger and better . And cybersecurity is something that cannot be taken for granted anymore. Someday there will be a time when all technologists would have to alternate between different domains and there will be a fine line dividing any domain from the other.

‘Nous évoluons tous’

We all evolve .

And how true it was. The evolution is here and now.

From a starry-eyed kid fascinated with algorithms to becoming a software professional, Adonis’s story isn’t just about one man’s journey. It’s the story of most technologists that work anonymously behind the scenes and dream of a future when technologies would surpass what mankind imagined possible.

As Dodo would say, ‘Au future’.

The future is definitely here.

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