Digital Nomads: The Journey of a Nigerian Engineer from Ukraine to Malaysia, and Now to Help Businesses Grow in Thailand


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Tourism has its uses, but it can maim a city, especially a developing city, and flatten it into a permanent form of service: the city’s flaw becomes a sly bow, and its inhabitants turn the grayer parts of themselves. in colorful accessories.

In 2019, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand received 22.7 million international visitors. It is ranked number one destination for global travelers, a title the city has held for four consecutive years.

This is the city Dare Oluwajuyitan has lived in for over a year now, the city he says, “You can go to a different place every night for a year and not see everything.

But his travel and tech experiences don’t start in Thailand, Malaysia or Ukraine, the three countries he has lived and worked in for the past decade. It all started in Nigeria, where, as a child, he had a protected childhood with his brother and sister.

“My parents never really allowed us to go out much, we were mostly at home. We only went from home to the nearby school. It’s because we were always so at home that we had to create our own games and toys.

Creating these games was an easy form of entertainment, and Dare says he spent a lot of time making his own toys. “My mom encouraged him, so we made miniature cars, flashlights, and put pieces of everything together. We always thought of games to play indoors.

As he got older, the computer became the center of entertainment and at 15 he tried a one week crash course in computer programming which he failed. “It was the first time that I failed at something and because of it I didn’t try to program again for a very long time.”

Looking back, he laughs at his failure to try to learn Java and today he says learning programming isn’t difficult. If you think an undergraduate degree in computer science is coming next, there is a curve ahead.

“I studied mechanical engineering in Ukraine. It was the first time he had left Nigeria and it kicked off a lifetime of travel and technology experiences around the world.

Ose’s note on choosing to study in Ukraine: I chose Ukraine because I wanted to be away from my parents. I did not know where Ukraine was on the map until two or three days before my trip.

Live in a new city and learn a new language

One of the first realities of studying in Kharkiv, Ukraine needed to learn Russian, as it was the main mode of teaching. Russian is considered one of the most difficult languages learn because of its complex grammar rules.

Dare agrees that Russian is a difficult language. “During the first two weeks, I considered going home because I was sure I would never be able to learn the language.”

But in the end he did, thanks to a one-year language course and Ukrainian friends who spoke the language. With a good command of the language, it became easier to navigate in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine.

What city life is like in Kharkiv, given that it arrived in 2005 which marked the end of the Orange revolution.

My note: According to Wikipedia, the Orange Revolution was a series of political protests and events that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, immediately after the second round of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, which claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and voter fraud.

“Kharkiv was a drab city and you could see it was a city that was struggling to thrive. I can compare it to Lagos in that although it is not the capital of the country, it is the busiest city.

But a difference between Lagos and Kharkiv is that where Lagos has around 21 million people, Kharkiv has 2 million.

Dare’s anecdote: The first thing I did when I got to my hostel in Kharkiv was to drop off my bag and go to the store nearby. I didn’t speak Russian so I pointed at two bottles of Coca-Cola and for me it was freedom.

Unlike Lagos, Dare remembers Kharkiv as being organized and efficient. “Things were old but everything still worked, even the metro which was in its forties. Transportation, water and the Internet were also cheap, and the infrastructure was reliable. This kind of efficiency is important in a city where the weather sometimes drops to -35 ° C.

Although Kharkiv is a cold old town, it is still Ukraine’s transportation and industry hub, and there are hundreds of industrial enterprises in the city.

Industrial enterprises in Kharkiv build tanks, nuclear power plants and turbines. If you can imagine it, they can build it.

It’s the perfect place to study mechanical engineering, and Dare says the learning process was all about building and doing things. “A lot of our teachers had built something or the other, and they shared their real life experiences. You learned from people who knew how to do things.

Dare’s apprenticeship made him eager to return to Nigeria where he dreamed of landing a job where he could put his skills to good use.

A Nigerian interlude and life in Malaysia

“In 2011 I came back to Nigeria and my biggest shock was that it was so unpredictable.” But he would find his biggest shock in his career path, after getting a job at an engineering company.

“In Nigeria there are a lot of repairs and repairs. There is not a lot of infrastructure to build machines or cars. There is no time and structure for designing, we import finished products.

This prompted him to consider a career change and he turned to business where he said he wanted to understand how to use technology to generate value. He would work for a first generation bank for the next three years, during which time he started thinking about an MBA.

Deciding on an MBA Destination: I thought of the US, UK, Singapore, and Canada. But I met representatives of a Malaysian university founded in collaboration with MIT and they convinced me. The program focused on innovation and entrepreneurship.

“I was particularly attentive to the quality of the teaching because I needed to deepen my knowledge in business.

Asia’s School of Business ticked all the boxes, with its action-learning programs that allow students to apply their knowledge in the classroom to real-time situations during two-month corporate internships.

It was a good experience, considering the interesting startup scene in Malaysia. Away from the startup scene, what is life like in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia?

“Kuala Lumpur is not a walk friendly city. People use the transit system, public buses, and they drive a lot here. “

Malaysia is also a community society and the West African idea of ​​conformity and respect for authority figures is a big issue here. “Most people seem to have the notion of the common good, putting society at the forefront as well as the same Nigerian idea of ​​respecting one’s bosses.”

Innovation and technology in Malaysia

According to this publication, “Despite some drawbacks, the Malaysian startup scene is considered by many to be booming.”

For Dare, the sectors driving the growth of technology are Telecommunications, Lifestyle Convenience Applications and Big Data and Machine Learning:

“The general tendency is to try to find out who can be innovative and reduce costs for users using the technology. “

Dare thinks it’s because most of their basic issues have been resolved. Malaysia also has a young tech-savvy population, with 15-39 year olds accounting for 45.4% of the population and 81% internet penetration.

It is easy to get accurate demographic data because the country has a national database.

“I was able to see part of the structure behind the national database and it is really well presented. To this database is linked a national identity card which also serves as a payment card. The overall theme of the country is that everything works seamlessly.

Internet service is no exception. So how much mobile data can you buy with $ 5? It buys you an unlimited mobile data plan which is capped when you exceed the 5 GB usage mark.

Reliable and fast internet service meant that research and schoolwork were also easy.

For the learning-by-doing phase of his MBA program, Dare was placed with a company in Thailand. “We were trying to change the business model of the company from a 1.0 to a 2.0 model we therefore carried out consultancy work for them. Simply put, it means using technology to generate another stream of income for your business.

Thanks to the results of his learning by doing program, Dare received an offer to work with the company in Thailand after his program and he accepted their offer without hesitation.

Bangkok: the tourism capital of the world

When a city receives 22 million visitors each year, it is obvious that from the airport, it must be functional. Yet the city of Bangkok still leaves people with different opinions.

“Some people love the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and others hate it because it is so crowded. People often compare it to Singapore, which is cleaner and looks modern. “

It reminds me of my conversation with Cindy and what some people might call “authentic” travel experiences.

While there is no single answer, what Dare and 22 million other travelers often agree is the disposition of Thais. “They are kind and warm and they have some of the best levels of service in the world – they’ve been doing it for years and it shows.”

He also shares that this is the first city he has lived in where instances of racism are rare. There is a lot to recommend about Bangkok.

“The roads are nice, the public transport works and Grab, the carpooling service is important here.”

Grab is a multinational company providing ridesharing, food delivery and financial services on one platform. It is also valued at $ 14 billion. Dare says that while they haven’t achieved super-app status in Thailand yet, they’re almost there.

But Grab isn’t the only game in town in Thailand. Electronics and manufacturing are also quite important sectors in Thailand.

“For me, Thailand is very mobile and some of their apps are the best I have ever seen, especially for banking. The banking apps here have integration with QR codes and there are so many services built into the payment system. You can pay your electricity bill by scanning it, ”he says.

Dare to note: if you are hoping to find a job in Thailand, there are opportunities for full-stack developers. Basic software engineers are also appreciated here.

This is why, in the end, Dare ranks Thailand 7th because the technology is concentrated in the banking sector and is absent in so many other areas. Malaysia rolls an 8 because everything is in sync and Ukraine rolls a 5.

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