Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

– Martin Luther King, Jr. 

I've spent the last 6 weeks trying to answer the question, "What is Andela?"

If you scour Twitter, Instagram, or company artifacts, you'll see #TIA or This is Andela written everywhere.  

I have so many ways to answer this question based on what I've learned so far.

  • Andela is a business dedicated to helping companies build high-performing engineering teams by investing in Africa's most talented software developers.
  • Andela is a 900+ person organization comprised of technologists, leaders, dreamers, and doers who believe that brilliance is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not.
  • Andela is a growth startup with $81M in VC funding with offices in New York, Lagos, Nairobi, and Kampala.
  • Andela is a collection of people with EPIC values – excellence, passion, integrity, and collaboration. 

These answers are impressive, but they don't suffice. What keeps me up at night are the answers to the question, "What will Andela be?"

I jokingly tell my new colleagues that I got a Masters Degree in Developers working at Stack Overflow. Over the course of 3.5 years, I studied the way developers think and work, their love of transparency, their aversion to sales and marketing, the languages they love and loathe, their principles like "public by default", and their never ending quest to problem solve, learn, and share knowledge.

I spotted Tobi in the lunchroom wearing this Stack Overflow t-shirt. I asked him where he got it and he said AWS re:invent, 2015. It was the first tradeshow I ever staffed for Stack and there's a very high likelihood I handed him this shirt back then. I love when the world can feel oh so small.

What I’ve observed is that it's becoming increasingly difficult for companies to attract, hire, and retain developers. I've concluded that there aren't many examples of companies who know how to do this well, but the ones who do will thrive in today's digital economy. Those who fall behind will struggle to stay alive.

I’m slightly baffled that developers don't have a canonical way to quantify technical talent. For all the pride engineering managers might have around data, exactness, and being "technically correct", so much of the language around talent is fluff. 10x developer. Senior Full-Stack. The world's best. I challenge it all. Expert developers are always beginners because they're constantly learning new skills and finding ways to level up. The most effective developers I've met have business acumen, team skills, and invest the time to help others. When you audit so many hiring processes today, engineering leaders are over-indexing for technical skills and undermining so many other attributes that make an engineer great.

Beyond quantifying individual talent, I also want to understand and document the hallmarks of great engineering teams. There's the Joel test, but it needs to evolve to be something that engineering organizations aspire to, something inclusive of inclusion. How does this get done? I think the ACM Code of Ethics is a start, but there's a broader conversation to be had. 

I’ve loved meeting Andelans around the world and the fact that I’m learning something new every single day. 

My life's work is to help connect people and ideas through technology and to tell powerful stories in the process. As Andela’s VP of Marketing, my job is to help operationalize how Andela tells its story to the world and how we invite others to help us unlock human potential at scale  – developers and non-developers alike. There will be many chapters, drafts and iterations, but when all is said and done, we will have answered the question, "What is Andela?"

Andela will be a global network of technologists, leaders, dreamers, and doers who uphold the belief that brilliance is evenly distributed across the human population. Andela will create millions of opportunities for people regardless of race, gender, geography, belief system, or upbringing. Andela will be a household name, a movement, a mindset.

We will prove that the future of work lives online and that diverse teams do in fact produce better outcomes. We will accelerate learning and innovation on the African continent and change it from a place people leave to a place where people progress.

Andela will help create a world where developers are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the quality of their code and the capacity of their hearts. 

If you want to tell this story with me, I'm hiring! Think marketers who act like the Avengers, standalone superheroes who are worthy of their own franchise, but choose to band together for the greater good. I'm looking for passionate, experienced product marketers who are brave, thoughtful, and want to help define a product that is people. I'm also looking for a full stack demand gen leader and a head of developer relations. There are no job descriptions yet (scope, salary, and title all TBD), but email me if you're interested in starting the conversation (alexa.scordato at andela dot com).

Leave a Reply