Educartis had the pleasure of speaking to Kevin Luka Omoti, a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications graduate from Strathmore University. Kevin currently works as a Senior Business Analyst at one of the Big Four accounting organizations – Deloitte. He shares about his journey and offers great advice to prospective students.
Why did you decide to pursue a Bachelor in Telecommunications? What was your favorite part of the course?
At the initial stages of thinking about what I wanted to do for a career in Form 4, I had decided on Political Science. Being the son of a diplomat, I felt at the time that this was the path for me. However, during the rest of that year and once the results came out, I realised that my intellect had always been superior in physics, chemistry and mathematics. So I decided to pursue aeronautical engineering. Subsequently, after a year into the course, I wasn’t able to continue due to financial constraints as it is a very expensive course to do locally at the bachelor’s level.
Fortunately, at the time I was also good enough in rugby to make the Kenya U19 squad which put me on the radar of the Strathmore University’s rugby coach at the time, Mitch Ocholla, who recommended me to the university scholarship committee for an undergraduate sports scholarship. I then elected to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications as it fit my core strengths in physics and mathematics, plus I always had an interest in telecommunications and data networks.
The exposure to wireless networks and learning in a practical environment how they have evolved in our everyday world is what I would probably say I enjoyed the most. We did a lot of studies and work around the security, modelling and design of such wireless networks. These are some of the skills I still use every day at Deloitte.
Why did you choose Strathmore University? What did you most enjoy about your student experience?
Well, you could say in a way Strathmore chose me. I was at a point in my life when I needed to get into an undergraduate program that was sustainable, in a major that I enjoyed, and from a reputable institution that would serve me well once I completed my degree. Strathmore ticked all these boxes and more. In terms of quality of education, if Strathmore isn’t the best university in the land, it is regularly considered top 5 every year since its inception. Additionally, it has a wide array of financial aid programs and scholarships for people such as myself who excel in sports and other extracurriculars, giving everyone a chance at an affordable education. It is also of note that across corporate Kenya, a Strathmore degree speaks volumes in terms of marketability. Employers recognise the university’s ability to train their students with the required skill set necessary for the workplace.
What I enjoyed most about my student experience was the diverse nature of the student body and faculty which also ties into the university’s global outlook. Thinking and acting global is key in propelling yourself towards any ambitions you generally have, be it building a solid base for a great career or realising your passions. It’s an underrated but important mindset to cultivate and there are few better institutions that allow you to develop like that mentally.
How did your education prepare you for your current career? In your experience, which employability skills are the most important for students to get a job at one of the Big Four accounting organizations such as Deloitte?
As a former Telecommunications student, my core units revolved majorly around telecommunications transmission technologies, network transport protocols such as ATM and TCP, data networks, data network design, network security, cryptography, computer programming in various languages and the internet of things (IoT). As a Senior Business Analyst in the Cyber Risk Services service line of the Risk Advisory function at the firm, my primary duties and roles are based around technical and high-level implementations of all the knowledge and skills learned from these core areas of study. Unlike other former classmates who delved into specialised or task-specific careers, I use between 70 to 100 percent of what I learned at undergraduate level on a daily basis due to the evolving and complex nature of my work as a cybersecurity consultant.
At Deloitte, we’re big on “making an impact that matters”. Making an impact off the bat requires you to be coachable, adaptable and malleable. Almost everyone who’s attained an undergraduate degree from a reputable institution with a second class honours upper division is capable of joining a top tier consulting firm like Deloitte but these three attributes will make you the most employable in my experience. Let me break it down in simpler terms:
- Be coachable: A firm like Deloitte has its own ways and internal mechanisms of how things are done. Listen, absorb and take in as much as you can because everyone in that environment is as smart or probably smarter than you, everything you know is just a launchpad to what you’re about to be exposed to.
- Be adaptable: Allow yourself to change as and when the environment requires you to. When your undergrad knowledge is required to use it when you lack knowledge on a task, research it. As a consultant different clients have varying expectations and different projects have varying end goals. Learn how to discern what you need to do at what time and in which situation. In the words of the famous Bruce Lee, “Be like water”.
- Be malleable: Your mental fortitude needs to be iron solid to make it in such an environment. The ability to take pressure when exerted by deadlines or the magnitude of some engagements should be something you equip yourself to handle every day. These are high reward environments but they also require high productivity from you. Always remember to keep a warm body but a cool mind.
What is your favorite thing about working as a Senior Business Analyst? What part of the role keeps you motivated?
A Senior Business Analyst is a job title that isn’t essentially tied to my job functions in the traditional sense of a Business Analyst. My primary function is as a cybersecurity consultant. The cybersecurity space is continually evolving and ever-expanding. My favourite part is probably the experience gained by working on different projects for our large array of clients. These clients vary in a myriad of industries and that type of exposure is priceless. It gives you an extra edge on everyone else in the industry because while one can only see the hill one stands upon, you’re able to view the whole horizon and the sea beyond.
Firstly, I believe for the most part being a white hat requires intrinsic motivation. It just has to be something you genuinely love and are willing to commit a lifetime to perfect. Vulnerabilities are discovered every day for a number of different technologies and devices from smart home to the most basic cell phone. You need to keep abreast of it all by at least reading through or trying out what’s new on a regular basis. I love my job and the cybersecurity industry regionally is growing at an exponential rate and is already big business today. Secondly, I draw motivation from my wonderful colleagues, we’re pretty tight-knit being a small family-like group. Our cyber team is amongst one of the leading units in the East African region.
Check out the programs offered at Strathmore University.
What advice would you give to new students who are about to begin their higher education journey?
Follow your heart but assert with your mind. It’s important to understand where the corporate world is moving towards in this day and age, what is commonly referred to as industry 4.0. Skill sets matter way more than your theoretical knowledge. Whatever you choose to pursue, be able to implement that knowledge. Don’t be afraid to be the first one to try something new out, it just might be your saving grace. Entrepreneurship and the ability to create new sources of capital based on original ideas is as priceless as ever.
And lastly, always aim to harness your potential to the fullest. Many people in the last few years have done degrees that they were forced into or they did because of visions that weren’t theirs. Everyone can’t be a doctor, engineer or a lawyer. There is no perfect degree course or money-making degree, what is right is only what is right for you. Stick to it, build on it and maintain consistency through your journey. The mistake most people make is assuming success is a mythical gift, it isn’t. Inevitably, success is a product of sustained continuous improvement which in Japan is aptly coined as Kaizen. If the advent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has shown us anything, we can only do our best within our means to live long and prosper.
You can find Kevin Luka Omoti on LinkedIn.
Read more interviews with different alumni and learn about their career journeys.