Jennifer Ogumbor-Larbi on Transitioning and Translating Creativity to a Tech Career

Jennifer Ogumbor-Larbi on Transitioning and Translating Creativity to a Tech Career
11 min read

Meet Jennifer Ogumbor-Larbi, a Nigerian-born, Canadian raised Digital Content Creator, and one of Canada’s top lifestyle influencers.

Jennifer Ogumbor-Larbi

As Editor-in-Chief of The Jeneralist, Jennifer creatively and openly shares places and spaces, travel experiences, culture, style and inspiring bits that add vibrancy to her everyday life, as she puts it.

Cappadocia, Central Turkey (Source: The Jeneralist)

One interesting aspect of Jennifer’s journey, however, is her transition to technology. As an IT consultant, Jennifer supports the implementation of large-scale IT projects while helping companies streamline and improve their business processes. 

“For as long as I can remember, I have always been a creative with a keen interest in technology.”

Jennifer Ogumbor-Larbi

“In my early high school years, my favourite subjects were Mathematics, Science and English. However, I took more notice to computers after taking a Computer Science elective in grade 10. After that, I began taking matters into my own hands and would often get into trouble at home for taking apart our Compaq CPU in many failed attempts to upgrade the processor and motherboard to improve my computer gaming experiences. When I was not consumed with breaking things just to fix them again, I was writing spoken word or fictional short stories, helping my friends customise their Myspace web pages, directing pop-themed video shoots with my sisters with our less than 2-megapixel webcam and compiling short films that I would later burn on DVD’s for keepsake.

As the eldest of 4 girls, I spent a lot of time living in the shadows of my parents and the pressures that came with the goals and ambitions they had for me instead of pursuing my own interests with vigour.  My parents convinced me to follow a medical path after high school and I enrolled in a Nursing program with the intent to pursue med school shortly after.  That “dream” didn’t get very far because I found out just how revulsed I was to the notion and/or sight of blood after having a breakdown during a mock ER session at the end of my first year.  I mustered the courage to de-enrol and came up with a plan to break the news to my parents.  The following year, I enrolled at the University of Windsor in the Social Sciences program and later graduated with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Economics.”

  • What are some of the challenges you experienced in your transition to IT? And what inspired this new career path?

“Towards the end of my second year in University, I took on a part-time job as a Service Representative with Sutherland Global, a company that works with its clients to rethink their processes and work together to streamline it, rebuild it, and deliver it back smarter than before.  For the first few months of my role, I supported ATT U-verse customers in the American Southwest to understand their frustrations with the systems in place and find ways to help the company improve its interface as bugs were identified.  One of the managers took a keen liking toward me and observed how diligent and analytical I was and encouraged me to enrol in some foundational courses in Business Analysis.  Still in school full-time pursuing my Social Sciences degree with a part-time job that was just as demanding, I held off on pursuing additional courses and continued to garner experience through the company.  I ended up taking the course over the summer, ahead of starting my fourth year and after working in that role for a year or so, I was promoted as a Junior Analyst within the company and began supporting RIM (now known as BlackBerry Limited). This was when I got introduced to the phenomenal world of enterprise software and the Internet of Things. 

After graduating, I pivoted from pursuing a career in my earned degree and ended up going to work with one of Canada’s largest telecommunications company as a Small Business Consultant/Analyst. I have since worked in the Government, Educational and Oil & Gas sectors supporting large IT implementations that aide companies in conducting day-to-day operational services more efficiently.  Acknowledging  that technology is ever evolving, I am currently enrolled in a series of courses to get certified in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to remain relevant in the industry.”

  • Tell us about the work that you do as an IT consultant. What project(s) are you currently working on?

“As an IT Consultant/Senior Analyst, I support large-scale IT projects while helping companies streamline and improve their business processes.  I am currently working on a multi-million dollar enterprise software implementation for ATCO’s Natural Gas Distribution division, to decommission multiple legacy databases previously used to manage assets and simultaneously implementing IBM’s enterprise asset management cloud solution called Maximo.  This will include complex integrations with other enterprise cloud solutions.  The successful implementation of Maximo will result in huge business benefits for the organization and a significant ROI; including but not limited to the digitization of their manually driven workforce, along with providing a single database which will become the source of truth for management of their spatial and non-spatial assets.”

  • What inspired the creation of ‘The Jeneralist’, and how do you wish to create an impact through this platform?

“While planning my wedding in 2017, I was drawn back to the childhood/early adolescent creative in me that had been so long suppressed. Putting a creative concept together for the wedding and seeing things come to fruition so vividly refuelled that creative flare and before I knew it, I began looking for ways to express myself more openly amidst all of life’s ups and downs.

Excited for the challenge of building my own website, I took the leap and created The Jeneralist at the beginning of 2018 to serve as a creative outlet, nurture my love for writing and to push the boundaries of my creativity through photography.  On my blog, I share vibrant moments and travel experiences through writing and photography but also speak openly on my personal journey and advocate strongly for mental health by sharing positive messages and tips to encourage my readers to prioritise self-development and self-care.

Since 2018, I’ve been able to grow (still growing!) and connect with a like-minded community of over 10 thousand people across the globe. I realise that I’ve established myself as a leader in this age of social media and remain conscious of messages I share online and the potential impact(s) they may have on my readers.  By being true to my values and continuing to share my journey as comfortably as I can, my hope is to continue encouraging others to let their own voices speak louder than any doubt in their minds that convince them that they may be inadequate. Most importantly, with so many different personalities online my hope is to continue reminding people that we are more alike than we are different and that no one person truly goes through anything alone.”

  • In your opinion, are there any strategic reasons why “content will always be king”?

“Within my first year of creating content for my blog, I learned very quickly that sharing content without any form of strategy is pointless. In order for your brand to grow, to encourage engagement, increase traffic or even generate new leads to your site/whatever it is you are sharing, you want to ensure that any content you put out is of high quality and will add value in some way.

One simple strategy that has proven effective for my blog is doing some research on any topic that I want to share in an article/post and incorporating commonly used keywords on that topic. By doing this, it helps greatly with things like Search-Engine-Optimisation (SEO) and will also help your website to rank organically on search engines.  A higher ranking on search engines will ultimately result in increased exposure of your brand to more digital consumers searching for content/information relevant to the respective topic.

Good content, whether it is in the form of a blog post or photo update on social media encourages your audience to engage with your brand.  When sharing on Instagram for example, I take the quality along with the wow-factor of the image into heavy consideration before sharing.  The simple fact is that if the content is genuinely good and you are able to captivate your audience, they will pause to consume the content, understand the message and perhaps even comment, like or share it with their followers as well.

So needless to say, content will always be king.”

  • What advice would you give to anyone trying to transition into STEM careers?

“My advice to anyone trying to transition into STEM careers, especially women, is to find a way to get your foot in the door and to pursue your interests with vigour.

Innovation has come a long way but at a time when technology continues to transform the way we live, work and learn, the need to close the STEM gender gap is more critical than ever.  From the outside looking in, STEM can often seem like an intimidating field, but my advice would be to push past the fear of the unknown in order to continue denying false stereotypes/narratives.  I encourage you to attend local STEM events in your city (eg; Women in Tech events), network as much as you can and find people (women) you can shadow to get deeper insights into your field of interest and take the initiative and enrol in some foundational courses. 

There is a wealth of accessible knowledge/information on the internet that can help you kick-start your journey.  You never know, your transition to STEM may just be a simple Google search away.”