From Mum’s Cyber Cafe to a Successful Hackathon, How Hanif Olayiwola Becomes a Tech Prodigy

Hanif Olayiwola, aged 18, not only exemplifies a deep-seated passion for technical product management but also showcases leadership acumen by steering his team to success in a high-stakes Hackathon. In this interview, he narrated how he started his tech journey, the challenges and achievements. Excerpts…

Can we know you:

I’m Hanif Olayiwola. I’m 18 years old. I’ve been in tech for 3+ years.

Tell us about your academic journey:

I’m currently a secondary school certificate holder. I finished my secondary school in 2019

How did your interest in technology first develop, and at what age did you start getting into it?

My interest in tech started from interacting with computers in my mum’s cyber cafe. I also used to use computers back then in secondary school to design product packages of existing brands for fun. I got into tech fully when I was 15

Can you recall a specific moment or experience that sparked your fascination with tech?:

A specific moment I’ll highlight was my first ever interaction with HTML and CSS while in a coding class, I paid 1k for hosted by Pleasant Balogun. I was using Acode(A mobile IDE) on my Tecno K7. When I wrote a line of code in CSS to change the text color, I just fell in love with it.

Can you describe a tech project or achievement you’re particularly proud of, and what you learned from it?:

One of my most significant tech accomplishments that I take great pride in is my participation in a hackathon last year. During this event, my team and I successfully developed a mini prototype for a startup idea and secured the 2nd position. This hackathon was particularly memorable as it marked my first collaboration with a tech team, where I had the opportunity to take on a leadership role and manage the team effectively. Additionally, I gained valuable experience in creating a compelling pitch deck and delivering an online presentation. The entire experience was exhilarating, as we had to work under tight deadlines, maintain a fast-paced workflow, and deliver a meaningful solution within just four days. This accomplishment not only showcased my technical skills but also demonstrated my ability to thrive in a team setting and deliver innovative solutions under pressure.

How many programming languages do you know:

2 programming languages: Javascript and Typescript (HTML and CSS don’t count as programming languages)

Did your parents have any initial concerns or reservations about your interest in tech, and how did they react?:

My parents didn’t have any reservations. Their concern was “Am I using my time for something meaningful and profitable in the long run?” Yes I was. And that was it.

Which one (programming language) was initially difficult and how did you overcome it?

Javascript. And I overcame it with consistency in learning and constant practice.

If given a chance, what problem is Nigeria facing and you like to use your knowledge to solve it?

The challenges faced by individuals when renting houses in Nigeria, from the tedious process of house hunting to navigating agreements and resolving conflicts, is a problem that I am passionate about addressing with my knowledge.

Are you a self-taught programmer? If Yes, how did you start?

I’m not a self-taught programmer. Although I acquired most of my knowledge through self-guided exploration and utilizing resources, I believe it’s important to know that no one truly becomes proficient in a subject without drawing from the work and expertise of others. 

What are your future aspirations in the field of technology and where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

In the next 5 years, I see myself making an impact in the lives of other young tech enthusiasts through education and skill acquisition, while having a thriving career in either technical product management or technical writing.

As a young tech prodigy, what are the challenges young people face in the tech field?

Young people pursuing careers in technology often encounter various challenges. These include a lack of experience, making it difficult to stand out among more seasoned individuals. Age bias can also be a factor, with some employers having preconceived notions about young professionals. Furthermore, the rapid evolution of technology creates a skills gap, requiring constant upskilling to stay relevant. Additionally, some young people may face a lack of support from parents or guardians in their tech pursuits.

How do you balance your tech interests with other aspects of your life, such as school, family, or extracurricular activities?

To strike a balance between my tech interests and other aspects of life, I divide my time and priorities accordingly. Since most of my activities revolve around tech, I find it easier to integrate and maintain equilibrium among them all. I ensure that I have dedicated periods for tech-related pursuits while also leaving room for other important areas of my life. This way, I can pursue my passion for technology while still prioritizing relationships, personal growth, leisure activities, and self-care. 

What advice would you give to other teens interested in pursuing a career or hobby in technology?

I’ll advise teens interested in pursuing a career or hobby in tech to do 5 things:

– Start with the basics: Technology is a vast field, so it’s important to start with a solid foundation. Begin by learning the fundamentals of any field you are choosing

– Learn by doing: Theory alone won’t take you far in tech. It’s crucial to apply what you learn through hands-on projects.

– Join tech-related communities and attend tech events: Engaging with others who share your passion can be very beneficial. These groups and events often provide opportunities for networking, mentorship, and collaborative projects.

– Embrace challenges and problem-solving: Tech will always present challenges, but it’s through overcoming these challenges that you grow. Embrace problems as opportunities to learn and enhance your skills. Develop a problem-solving mindset and be persistent in finding solutions.

Lastly, have fun and be curious. Tech is a field that thrives on innovation and curiosity. Enjoy the process of learning and exploring. Stay curious, ask questions, and embrace the joy of discovery.

What advice would you give to parents?

Parents, please make a sincere effort to provide your children with the support they require as they embark on their tech journeys. This support should encompass various aspects, including emotional and financial assistance. By doing so, you will help create a nurturing environment that allows your child to flourish. It is essential to understand that without such an enabling environment, their growth and development may be hindered. So, be there for them, offer guidance, and provide the necessary resources to help them thrive.

Can you share a tech-related role model or inspiration who has influenced your journey?

While I draw inspiration from numerous individuals. I haven’t yet discovered a singular role model whom I wholeheartedly idolize. Nevertheless, there is someone in the realm of tech whom I deeply admire—Pleasant Balogun. He holds a special place in my heart as the person who initially sparked my interest in the field of technology. Moreover, he played a pivotal role in paving the way for my journey in this domain.

The spotlight is an initiative of Rubies Technologies to promote young tech genius in Nigeria and in diaspora. If you know any young person you’ll like us to spotlight, kindly contact or call +2348137197307

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