Women in Tech: Saskia Koning
Nona product owner, Saskia Koning, shares how she discovered the world of dev.
In a typical week, Nona Product Owner, Saskia Koning, juggles her development team’s workflow with her client’s expectations, helping turn their needs into valuable digital products — such as apps, websites and installations. “This includes having a clear understanding of the client’s business needs and requirements,” she explains, “as they don’t necessarily always know how their vision should best translate into digital”.
If you had asked her 7 years ago where she expected to end up, this film and media graduate wouldn’t have mentioned the world of tech. Saskia was introduced to the field when she worked as a local Government Communications Coordinator in Canada in 2010, shortly after completing her studies at UCT and travelling around the world. This was followed by roles in copywriting and digital marketing before she discovered Nona, in 2014.
“It is not very inspiring, but I just had a really bad day at work, and on a whim I decided to look for something new.” The first job ad that Saskia stumbled across happened to be for a Digital Project Manager at Nona, and mentioned that the position was perfect for “someone who likes waffles on a Wednesday.” Saskia replied to the ad, highlighting her love for waffles — as well as her skills and experience in the digital space — and soon joined the growing studio.
Learning and Growing
“When I started working here, there were 8 or 9 people, and now there are about 30. It has been so exciting to be part of something from such a ‘fundamental’ stage. We’ve grown as individuals, and we’ve grown together as a company. I appreciate the fact that I’ve never been hindered — only encouraged to explore and grow in my position.”
Saskia started as Digital Project Manager and became increasingly involved in development, taking over some of the smaller projects and digital marketing clients before moving into a product ownership role in 2016. “Dev was a very new concept to me, and even today it can be intimidating, but over time, I continue to pick up the technical aspects which are essential for the role — thanks to the influence of those around me.”
She’s also had the opportunity to work on a number of exciting projects like the Do You Even Dev? campaign which earned a Silver Pixel for Innovative use of Media, and a Gold Pixel for Digital Installations and Activations at the 2017 IAB SA Bookmark Awards.
Nona was tasked with helping a company recruit talented developers, and created a game to test their coding abilities over four different skill levels.
“I’d never really done anything so conceptual and had no idea where to start, but fortunately the client was open to anything, even though we couldn’t confirm any results and had no way to measure the reach of some of the strategies we used, like the billboards, for example.” Despite this uncertainty, the Do You Even Dev? campaign went viral, engaging more than 33 000 developers from 111 countries, and counting…
This potential to impact people is one of the things that excites Saskia about her work, and going forward, she’s set on reaching out to more international clients and gaining a better understanding of the technology that she, and her dev. team, work with daily. “The importance of tech in everyday life is growing, and so is the ability that we have to affect change. It’s completely the future, everything is going to tech if it’s not already there.”
Do you know a talented woman in tech? Send us their details and we could be featuring them in our Women in Tech series. Forward your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Chisanga Mukuka is a writer and burgeoning tech enthusiast at Nona Creative — a full-service product development studio in Cape Town, South Africa.