Andela is Life
“Andela is life”, something some of my teammates used to say severally when I had just joined Andela. I would laugh; at the time, I thought it was ludicrous. You see, I had worked at places where I would start to pack up at a few minutes to 3 pm. For clarity, work started at 5:30 am hence the early end. At about 2:30 pm, my clocking out would start with trips to the kitchen to grab my utensils ( yes, I packed a lunch daily as there was no lunch perk). Then I would start to shut down and steer clear of anyone that could possibly ask me for anything and when the clock struck three, I was not walking out, I was driving onto the street below the office building. Heck, on a good day I was already enroute by three.
Six months in and I have been thinking about what I wanted versus what I found. I have spent time reflecting on the things that I wanted in a job and my journey at Andela thus far.
I have experienced the disconnection one can feel when the values of the place that they work are not aligned entirely with their own. I am also cognisant of the fact that too many, working in a place where there is alignment can appear like a luxury. In my opinion, this is a sweet spot, when your personal values and those of the organisation in which you work are aligned, you do not have to wear a work-hat and a personal-hat; you can engage and be your authentic self, always. When I think about the percentage of our lives that we spend working, I pray that no one should have to take on the struggle of juggling facades.
When I joined Andela, I was looking for a place whose values are akin to mine. I did not want to be that person who gets into a relationship and has to spend the entire time pretending to be into all manner of things, just to make things work. If you have been there, you can agree with me on how daunting this is. Plus, life is too short for that anyway. I have found my sweet spot:)
When values are aligned, taking ownership seems like an almost natural result. It creates a stronger degree of investment, creating a performance that is akin to that of one that is intrinsically motivated. They tend to be more steadfast, resilient and committed. When one takes ownership they act like a stakeholder consistently. Words like “they” are almost extinct — it is more of “us” and “we”. During some work in my past life, you could catch me saying eno si company ya jjaja wange, which loosely translates to, this is not my grandfather’s company.
It is an entirely different experience here as I am a stakeholder and anything that affects the vision, degree of impact and bottom line affects me. This translates into me constantly looking for solutions to problems. Someone from the outside looking in would say I am a workaholic. However, this is not work. To me, it is life. Life is what it feels like and because I am invested, it is a new kind of relationship with my employer that I absolutely love.
Talk the talk Vs Walk the walk
So many places have impressive values, so few places live said values. I am at a place that lives its values. I’ll play out some scenarios for you.
- I had a conversation with a developer one morning which stemmed from my observation of a long look on his face. I probed to find out his ache that morning, to which he answered, the low subscription to women’s initiatives and he was pondering on how to solve for that.
- I had a chat with a learning facilitator around how to find a balance between creating an environment where people can learn and fail and at the same time maintain quality.
- Over a casual cup of coffee a few months back, I had an insightful conversation with one of the developers about mental health in Uganda and how we can use technology to address the existing stigma.
- Another conversation that I enjoyed was around music industries in different parts of the continent, and the factors that affect the degree to which the locals consume their own music versus other music.
A wise man once said that it is the questions that make the man. The conversations are mentally stimulating. I can count on having my body and mind fed every day at work. At Andela I have found consistency between what people say and what they do. I have found integrity and that has given me satisfaction and people that do not just talk a big game but dare to put this talk into action. Andela is life!