Kevin Omolo, 44, is the head of technical services at SGA Security Kenya, Ltd. The computer science guru holds a Masters in Computing Technology from the University of Nairobi and is currently pursuing a PhD in computer science at the same institution.
He spoke to Sunday Nation about his career path.
Briefly tell us about yourself
- I am the current head of technical services at SGA Security Kenya Limited. In this role, I steer the technology department with the design and implementation of electronic security solutions. I work closely with the commercial team in responding to security bids as well as coordinate the day-to-day running of the technology department.
Tell us about your childhood and family life
- I am the firstborn in a family of six siblings composed of four brothers and two sisters. I grew up mostly with my mother, who is a Christian. We later moved to join our dad, who is a Muslim.
Back in the 1980s, he was working in Nairobi. We lived in Nairobi’s Eastleigh Section 3 for the entire period of primary, secondary school, college education and at least eight years into my marriage life.
- I am married with three children – two sons and a daughter. Our first-born son is currently in form one while the last-born son is in grade one.
Your educational background
- My primary school education was split between Kodhoch Primary School in Homa bay County and Morrison Primary School in Nairobi where I sat my KCPE. I later joined Oriwo Secondary School in Homa Bay County and did my KCSE.
Thereafter I joined the Kenya School of Monetary Studies to pursue Computer Studies and I graduated with a Higher Diploma. In 2005, I joined Kenya Polytechnic College, now Technical University of Kenya, for a three-year course in Electronics Engineering, graduating with a credit pass.
- Within the same institution, I enrolled for a certificate course in Geographical Information System (GIS). In 2013, enrolled at Kenyatta University for a BSC degree in Information Technology. Later I enrolled for a Master’s Degree in Computing Technology at the University of Nairobi. I’m currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Nairobi hoping to clear in 2024.
Share with us your career journey
- I started off in the year 2000 as a tutor in various computer colleges in Eastleigh estate, mainly teaching computer programming, something that I loved to do while at the college. In 2001, my security industry career began with a job at Wells Fargo Ltd where I was employed as a computer technician. I wrote numerous computer applications for management decision support, which exposed me to the highest level of company management, interacting with them while defining requirements for computer programs and testing them after completion to ensure that all requirements and final products captured strategic level management requirements before finally deploying them to users.
- During this period, I also designed and implemented several computer networks (LANs) in the branch network; since that was also the period that Wells Fargo was expanding its branch network in Kenya. Wells Fargo had a vehicle tracking division that I got a chance to join having showed interest around the year 2005 when one of its managers left the company. I doubled in this role in acting capacity before being promoted to the head tracking personnel in the same year, a position I held until I left in early 2008 to join KK Security.
- At KK Security, I joined the technology department as a Projects Engineer having just graduated from Kenya Polytechnic. I mainly led technicians in implementing electronic security projects and liaising with vendors/suppliers to undertake bench testing works for new products as well as support during setup and deployment.
While at KK Security we implemented several UN sponsored projects that gave me chance to travel to countries like Somalia and Somaliland. I left KK Security in 2018 to join SGA K. Ltd where I currently the head of technology services.
What do you remember most about your career journey?
- Around year 2004 while at Wells Fargo, I became friends with one of my colleagues who oversaw installation at the tracking department. He encouraged and challenged me to join him at the department because he noted that I was a quick leaner even though I did not have formal college training in electronics.
I did not shy away from that challenge; therefore, he would call me to join his team for most installations. This I did until I was confident with the tracking installations. He then could leave me to stand in for him at the section while he took his leave of duty. Kevin the technician was immediately born.
- Realising the role that I was now headed for, I decided to enroll at the Kenya Polytechnic for certificate course in electronics. At the time, certificate in electronics was offered in stages, that moved from stage one to the highest stage three. Stage three was equivalent to Diploma in electronics and one would be allowed to join higher diploma course in electronic engineering, for KNEC examination. My eyes and target were set for the higher diploma certificate.
However, for one to join higher diploma class from the certificate route, there was a tough requirement that one had to score credit pass at the final stage of the electronic certificate course which was not an easy thing going by the history in the course.
- This did not deter my urge to study electronics at the higher diploma level. I sat for my stage three and scored a credit pass as was the requirement to study higher diploma course in electronic engineering. As fate would have it, the college was changed to constituent college of University of Nairobi. This development changed everything including the courses offered at the institution.
Immediately, the college stopped offering higher diploma course, replacing it with degree courses with requirements that my qualification at the time could not match neither were they allowing for bridging to join degree course as the institution was also transitioning into a university.
- This temporarily stopped my upward trajectory as I was now confused on the next course of action. I got consolation in the stage three certificate combined with the higher diploma certificate course in computer studies.
How have you progressed over the years career-wise?
- I started off as a computer technician, then after several years of work, progressed to be an installation supervisor. Then to a project manager before finally rising to full departmental management position.
What has been a key driver of your growth? Lessons learnt, celebrations and failures. Attitudes, habits, principles etc.
- In this career journey, the key driver has been self-belief and determination to achieve higher goals coupled with a go-getter attitude. I keenly follow the saying posted by the late Starehe Boys’ founder and director that “Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them true.”
The lessons learnt in my path of growth is that upward movement is very painful many times, but the rewards are equally fatty. And that when failures occur in the path of growth, it should serve to open an alternative route to the same destination and not a pitfall to growth. Failure is defined in life as a negative outcome of life lessons that is meant to show us that success may not be attained to the level expected hence the coining of the word failure.
- It is part to life that comes as an outcome of failing to anticipate a negative occurrence from a decision made and not a limitation of the human ability. Therefore, my principle in growth is that failure is a possible outcome of a decision made without considering all the requirement to attain a particular set objective which should be considered while making similar decisions in future.
Who are the people or relationships that you can single out that were useful in your career growth and how did they influence your trajectory?
- My late uncle was very key in influencing my carrier growth because he never believed in anyone saying that he has achieved a maximum in life. He always said that life and achievement is never filled and compared it to stacks heading to heaven that may never reach its maximum point in stacking.
Therefore, to him growth was always had an empty end that should always be filled through continuous academic learning and being ready to tackle new challenges in carrier path.
- This, he always, said should be achieved by attempting new challenges either through new responsibilities at work or total change of employment if new challenges would be found through that.
My former colleague at work also had a notable contribution to my career growth when he challenged me that people do only do what they studied at the college level and that some changes in carrier path may requires academic patching once one taste their realities.
- After that, requirements to talk such challenges becomes clear and the strategies to handle them becomes visible as opposed to the vice versa.
Key decisions you might have taken along your career?
- Top of the key decision that have changed my career growth was the need to acquire a B.Sc. degree in information technology. It has become a basic requirement in any front in the Kenyan market. It is foundational requirement that would open the doors to handling more challenging roles in the society. We are currently leaving in a society that attached life achievement by the level of education one has attained.
The other key decision that has helped in my career growth is the realization that one can achieve higher education level even in marriage life. Most of my academic growth has been achieve while in marriage and with family.
Your current role and scope of role?
- I head the technical services department at the company. The scope of the role encompasses design, setup, and implementation of all electronic security solutions. This includes managing all the human and vehicular resources in the department. This role also includes research and development of new solution offering in the organizational product offering.
What would you tell your younger self?
- That never tire to achieve the highest level of academic excellence because it is the key that the current society see before they are ready to trust one’s ability in delivering results in any field. That courage is a factor of success that does not see “failure” as a limitation but rather a failure to consider a position requirement for action in a decision.
What would you advise the youth in Kenya and Africa today?
- That the world shall be fully digital with the advent of internet of things (IoT) and 5G, they should be prepared with the required training in computer science to remain relevant. Computer science and electrical electronic studies should be the main courses of tomorrow.
- Complete my ongoing Computer Science PHD with interests in Cyber Security and Computer Forensics from University of Nairobi and be thought leader in information security with emphasis in computer security.