Rita Ndidi Amuchienwa is the Country Executive for Intel, West Africa a position she has occupied for over five years. Beyond making money, she likes solving problems and has worked as Channels Director at Schneider Electric for West Africa among other organisations. She has distinguished herself at various organisations she has worked in, winning many awards.
“Before her latest appointment, the Theatre Arts graduate of the University of Calabar turned computer guru, had worked with Oracle, Motorola Solutions, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Technology Distributions (TD) Ltd., amongst other multinationals.“In all, she has 17 years of professional channel sales and development experience in the IT Industry in Africa; having managed all English African Countries in various sales positions. Notably, Rita is a specialist in IT distribution and networking. She speaks to BL on her journey so far.“
You speak to young girls about how you started as a front desk receptionist and where you are today. Tell us, how was the journey?
Quite exciting; initially, it was not encouraging because I saw myself as a young graduate who came out of school and the only job I could get was that of a receptionist. In fact, people came in and I attended to them, and one of those attendees that I had looked at me and said, you sound like a graduate. I said yes, I am a graduate, meaning that when you are a receptionist most persons see you as a dropout or a WAEC holder.“
He looked at me and said, ‘then why are you a receptionist’? I told him that this was the only job I could grab and this is an IT firm and I am not computer literate, to which he told me that I needed to upskill myself, seeing as I looked intelligent and for my lack of computer literacy, I could go to a computer school.“At that moment, I decided to go to a computer outfit.
That was how I started my journey in technology, never left the sector and since then, I started looking inward, looking at Google in a bid to upskill myself because I believed if I did that, I would be marketable and people would come for me. Immediately I grabbed that knowledge, jobs were looking for me. I moved from being a front desk officer into sales and marketing and I saw that I can sell things; one’s ability to sell him/herself is also what will make you sell a product, so I was able to sell myself, my knowledge, my handwork and people started looking for me, I began growing from who I was, to who I am today.
I have worked in almost all the OEM’s, from the IT firm that I worked Technology Distribution (TD), I went to IBM Lenovo and became the first hire there. I went to Hewlett Packard (HP) where I grew from a nobody to a bigger person. I was the country’s Channel Sales Manager for supplies. I was in HP for seven years from where I moved to Motorolla and worked as the country lead and left there for Oracle, which is one of the biggest software companies. Intel came looking for me.
“What were the challenges?
The challenges were enormous and more especially when you are a woman because there are men working with you that are also striving to excel. It was a not a smooth journey but the ability to skill yourself, set yourself in a position no man can withstand helps. “I mean knowing your onions at the tip of your finger, so I know my tech, my products, my sector. Those are things that kept me going.“ While working with HP, they have a vast array of toners and ink, over a thousand printers but I could tell what toner ink each printer uses and that makes me different from every other person. People began to see me as someone they could run to with any problem. “ I made them understand that I was available for them at each point in time as my partners. So that was the extra added value to what I do that makes people look for me and come to me.
What area do you think will be suitable for a young lady in terms of investing in her growth in technology?
All areas are very good; there is no specific area in technology that is not good for a woman and that is the only way we can break the barrier and bias. I read Theatre Arts as my first degree, the second was International Business Management and I am currently running a third degree in Geography and Environmental science, so you see the mix; I am not an Engineer but I can stand to tell everything that has to do with technology.
I learnt it, I upskilled myself, told myself nothing can stop me, even not being an engineer could not have stopped me and so I tell every woman, do not believe that because you read English and Literary Studies, you will not go into technology. You do not have to be an engineer or digital personnel to go into technology so every area is very exciting and it is very good for every woman.“Find out what you like to do and delve into it and upskill yourself from that point.
In the area of empowering young girls, how is Intel taking this as a course?
Empowering people is something that is very crucial, even in Intel; they are looking at breaking that barrier of employing women and they intend to do it by training you once you are accepted; they do not stop training anyone even at my level, my manager always calls and says ‘Rita, what is your growth path?
Have you made any plans for this year, which areas are you looking at growing because we would not want you to be stagnant.“Intel does not take that for a joke, they like to train, empower people that work with them so all they need to do is encourage you to empower yourself so you will loaded with content in order to excel.““When you were a front desk receptionist, technology was not as grown as it is today.
Tell us the difference between then and now.
The difference between then and now is very huge and exciting because then, it was Y2K and people did not understand what that meant so now, it is over Y2K, digitalization has come in, you can use your phone to do a lot of things.“Take the era of the corona virus for example, people did not know money can be made simply by working from home, be very active while working from home, it was only most of these OEM’s that most times work from home but now, technology has shown us that we can do a lot more with it so you can sit in Nigeria, talk to people millions of miles from you Technology has now gone haywire so right now I can tell you that we are in advanced technology and every year, it keeps being enhanced.“Then and now, the gap is so much and that is why people are now venturing and actually spending into technology. There is virtually no company that do not want to go into technology. Technology is the key thing, the right thing to spend into, I hear some governors call themselves ‘digital governors’ what are they talking about? If you are not digital, not technically inclined into this technology, you are missing.
How does digitalization help in growing a business particularly, a market woman?
For instance, you do not need to own a shop to grow a business; there are so many social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and many others that can advertise your business. All you need to do is get a smart phone to advertise your products, put a number, put up your contact address and what you sell and tell the whole world that this is what you are selling. This has helped a lot of women to excel.
I was looking through Instagram one day and saw a lady selling star apple popularly known as ‘agbalumo’ and I looked at it and said ‘wow’. I scrolled through and saw baskets of the star apple and I asked, are you selling this? How much is it? she said ten for 1,000 naira and I can have it delivered at your doorstep, all you need to do is pay me delivery fee and I got excited and called her to place an order and she delivered just like that.
Digitalization technology has helped her to sell her products without having a shop or investing so much, all she needed was the smart phone and data to advertise her products.
What is your view on Robotics technology?
You call it ‘Robotics’, I call it Artificial Intelligence (AI), so Intel is actually on it right now. It is part of what we do aside the manufacturing of chips for laptops. Artificial Intelligence is something that needs to be embraced and everyone needs to understand. To a layman, machine will take over everything but no, it is garbage in, garbage out so Artificial Intelligence is for you to relax, for those robotics to work for you, then you have to input sense into them. You need to tell them what to do. Artificial intelligence is what everybody should embrace because that is the technology we are getting into and it will make life easier and better.