Oyin Johnson | Never Count Yourself Out: Advice to Young Women at ALX

Oyindamola Johnson, born in Lagos, Nigeria, is a multi-talented human. She’s a poet, singer, actress, dancer – but first and foremost a technology lawyer. As part of the Legal, Compliance and Risk team at ALX, Oyin creates legal frameworks that protect the company’s clients, ensures the company stays aligned with the law, and allows the company to thrive. She firmly believes in the potential of women, and their right to be represented in the tech industry.

Can you share a bit about your background and how it led you to your current position at ALX?

I’m a UK and Nigeria trained technology lawyer born in Lagos, Nigeria and this is my 8th year ‘lawyering’. I started off my career in Oil & Gas Law, but I started getting interested in tech knowledge and tech-focused work, and this influenced me to make the switch to technology law. 

I got a tech law focused Masters from the University of Cambridge and got plugged into the Nigerian tech law ecosystem shortly after. While I was serving on the Nigeria Bar Association SBL Tech Committee, I found out about ALX. I’ve always been passionate about exploring the intersections between leadership, technology, art and education, so ALX seemed like the perfect fit. Joining the team was a no-brainer for me!

What motivated you to enter the tech field?

Even though they seem to be worlds apart, law and technology are, to me, incredibly similar – right down to the use of the word “code”. I believe both law and technology are levellers and enablers. Ideally, they should both apply to everyone regardless of status, race or creed. Of course, neither are perfect in real life, and that’s part of why I am a technology lawyer – to help keep the conversion lines open between law and tech, and to do everything possible to make sure the law enables tech to fulfil its potential to enhance human lives.

While codified law has improved the lives of the public, it has done so at a relatively slow rate. I believe technology code has the power to catalyse social change at an exponential rate, so I am very excited to see where it takes us.

What are some of your key responsibilities at ALX?

As part of the legal, compliance and risk team at ALX, I create legal frameworks that allow a technology company like ours to thrive. This includes everything from transaction structuring, to contract negotiation and drafting. Our team also takes care of data protection, intellectual property, software licensing and everything in between. Generally, we make sure that while our tech services company grows in leaps and bounds, we continue to protect our clients and stay aligned with what the law requires.

What do you love most about your work?

Oyin Johnson, Tech Lawyer at ALX, with three other panelists and a moderator at Lagos Tech Fest
Oyin (second from the left) as a panelist at Lagos Tech Fest

I love many things about my work, but what lingers the most is the impact that it has on the lives of African youth in real time. Recently, I represented ALX at Lagos Tech Fest speaking on a panel discussing The Future of Work. During the event, it was phenomenal to meet many of our current and future learners and see how the work at ALX is changing the trajectory of their lives and exposing them to global opportunities to create value and excel.

Why do you believe it’s important for more women to get into tech and gain skills that will enable them to pursue careers in the industry?

Like every other industry, it is important for women to be represented because diversity has been shown to improve the quality of ideas and the quantity of money those ideas make. In any case, we make up about half of the consumers and representation matters. For example, health tech and reproductive tech relating to women’s health has lagged behind men’s for so long probably because there weren’t many women in the room to demand that research, money and time be allocated to the things that make our lives easier. We have to change that. 

Women have the potential to do just as well as men across the field of tech, so we should be given the opportunity to display that as much as possible. It is important that women get the right skills and experience because we need women to be the right talent for the job and be able to create value. It is not enough to be ‘tokens’ and ‘quota fillers’ when we have the ability to really shake things up and make a difference.

What excites you about the future of technology and innovation in Africa?

The future of tech is Africa. Africa has a chance to be on the front foot (not catching up) to this tech revolution, and ALX is supporting the continent in grabbing this opportunity with both hands. The possibilities are endless when the vibrance, resilience and agility of African youth is stirred in the same pot with the power, flexibility and progression of tech. 

What do you see as some of the biggest opportunities for women in tech today and in the future?

There are so many opportunities. I look forward to seeing how female developers positively impact the trajectory of technology and create solutions with women in mind. Women in tech have the opportunity to become global household names and authorities in their field of choice. Unlike many other industries, your work can speak for you and you can design your life by transcending the physical limits of wherever you are. Of course, there are challenges but the opportunities remain endless.

What mindset do you believe is critical for women in tech to succeed in their journeys?

Tech Lawyer Oyin Johnson making a presentation at an ALX staff retreat
Oyin making a presentation at an ALX staff retreat

There are several, but I’ll mention a few. Firstly, confidence. You deserve your place and your perspective is needed for advancement so act like it. Secondly, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Lean in, even where no one else looks like you in the room. Finally, pay it forward. Open the doors for younger women and men coming after you.

What advice do you have for young women considering a career in tech?

Explore the full scope of tech. Don’t limit yourself to just one specific type of tech – tech is broad. Think about where your own strengths are and play to those. Seek out guidance, mentors, and read. When you’ve done all that, take responsibility for your life and never count yourself out. Go for it!

​​ALX is proud to be developing thousands of young professionals in a broad range of specialisations and skills across the tech sector. Find out how you too can use technology to catalyse change through its world-class programmes. Lean in and apply today!

#WomenInTech #WomenSupportingWomen

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