Meet Mohini Ufeli — A Media Storyteller

CAWSTEM
CAWSTEM Blog
Published in
6 min readJul 21, 2020

Even though her work is neither IT nor Software Development, Mohini has spent her career in the tech space since inception…

As you know, you can make as many lemonades as you want out of life, and Mohini’s lemonade is using photography to tell stories.

You will love her story…

Tell us about you

Hi, I’m Mohini Ufeli.

Fun fact, my first name is Hindi. It’s got a long, Wikipedia history, but the summary of the meaning is Charming. If we ever meet in person let me know if you think it fits. I’m a storyteller. I’m really interested in personal stories of growth and becoming. Professionally I help organizations tell stories of culture and impact. Technically I’m a photographer, videographer, and podcast producer.

Your educational background.. Where and what did you study?
I was an English major in college, with a minor in Journalism, Media, and Public discourse. I went to Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

Can you share the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career path?
Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor. I liked the idea of saving lives plus Biology was my favorite subject. Then I got to college, took a few Bio courses and realized, I only wanted to learn how the body worked, not fix it. Lastly, I got weak-kneed at the sight of blood.

So I decided to check out dance as a major, nope. Music, nope. Journalism…hmm. Well, my parents were journalists. I loved to write. Alrighty, journalism then. But along the way, I’d developed a knack for capturing moments and I was really enjoying photography. So I figured multimedia journalism was a good direction (hence my English major, and my interdisciplinary minor).
After I graduated from college, I came back to Nigeria for a one-year break and was due to return for my Masters in Journalism.

One evening, a friend shared a tweet with me, from one of Andela’s co-founders. He was looking for someone to take headshots of the developers. This was late 2014. I realized that he was a dear friend of a dear friend, so I ended up agreeing to do it for free. When I showed up for the headshots, I met the then-CTO, who was also a photographer, and we got to talking about how they’re looking for someone to tell the Andela story. I let him know that I’d be available for a year, and then I’d be going back to school. Two weeks later I was hired. And I never went back to school. That’s how I got started as a storyteller in the tech ecosystem.

It’s been an extremely rewarding experience. Both in terms of the work I get to do with the amazing companies I’ve worked with, and the connections I get to make along the way.

Your typical day as a (Media Manager) involves …

I get to work for 9:00 am, and my routine varies from day-to-day. Tuesday is meeting day, so I’m mostly in back-to-back meetings with the larger Growth team, or the smaller Marketing team (a subsection of Growth), or in a one-on-one with the Media Associate. When I’m not in meetings, I’m either planning or editing a podcast, editing video, doing research or tasks related to an upcoming project we might be recording, or leveling-up on some skills.

What were you doing the last time you looked at the clock and realized you had lost all track of time?
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I was probably editing a photo series. I tend to get pretty lost in those.

How do you strike a work-life balance? How do you alleviate stress?

I read a lot, whenever I have the chance. Non-fiction, fantasy, I do enjoy a good love story ;) Asides from that, watching series with my fiancé is another favorite de-stressor. Otherwise, spending time with my sister and her kids. Lastly, I work out at least 5 days a week; at least a one-mile run.

Your favorite work tools?

My iPhone and my laptop. Also my Clear Habits journal for the times when I need to plan my day or brainstorm.

Your Philosophy/Motivation to work?

Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing well.

If I’m going to commit to something, I should give it my absolute best. I still struggle with being consistent with this one, for a number of reasons, but it’s a work ethic I believe is worth cultivating. As much as possible, I want to be proud to see my name on anything I put out. People should know and be able to trust that if I say I’ll do something, I’ll do my best to crush it. That’s the kind of ethic we need in order to build progress in the world.

Have you faced any difficulties so far? Or ever felt like you were not treated as equal?
I’ve been quite fortunate not to have faced any major difficulties or discriminatory episodes resulting from my gender. But of course, I have too many women friends who have experienced the effects of gender-bias in their workplaces. We’ve got a long way to go towards eliminating this thought as a common experience that hinders the growth of women and our contribution to our chosen spheres.

Outside of that, one challenge that I’ve had to solve is how to learn fast enough to keep up with the evolving needs of a rapid-growth startup. Over time I’ve learned how to learn faster and as a result experienced less friction in the area of leveling-up. Shoutout to YouTube and Google, my ever trusted companions in this journey. And shoutout to my friends and loved ones who, when I doubt what I’m capable of, remind me who I am and how far I’ve come.

What are some things people and organizations could do to get more women in STEM?
Creating and sharing more content that highlights women in STEM, the work they do, and the paths they took to get to where they are is always a good one.
Beyond that, starting earlier in the pipeline helps — educating young girls on the wide array of STEM career paths available to them, so that they begin to dream these dreams early on. Parenting is part of that, formal education and what teachers choose to highlight is another part of that. Providing resources early on — access to mentorship and learning tools is also useful.

Your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how it’s relevant to you in your life?

Timing is everything. Act fast.

In life, I’ve seen how delaying by just one hour can cause you to miss out on an opportunity. My fiancé, Chuba is always reminding me of this one because I have a procrastination habit that I’m working on.

Timing is everything and it’s in my best interest to always position myself optimally. And a lot of the time, that simply means acting fast. Sending out that podcast invitation asap. Booking that venue early. Editing those photos immediately. There are instances where I could have avoided so much stress and anxiety if I’d just moved quicker.

So So Random: What can’t you do without

Hair or heels — Hair

Jewelry or make-up — Jewelry

Books or movies — Books

Club or Cafe — Cafe

DIY or Pay someone — Haha! This one’s half and half

Connect with Mohini on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

CAWSTEM is a community of African women in STEM. We are a female-led crew, on a mission to rewrite the narrative about having few women in STEM and, especially in leadership positions. We share interesting insights, news, and resources to empower women in their STEM careers. You can join the community here

Every Tuesday, we publish stories here about African women’s journey in STEM. We know every STEM woman’s story is unique…so we tell these stories to inspire our community. If you would like to share your story with us, send an email to content@cawstem.org, we can’t wait to read from you!

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