Meet Edmore Munedzimwe, Application Development Consultant at Microsoft

What is your job title?

Application Development Consultant

What does your firm/ organisation do and how does your role fit into it?

Microsoft is one of the largest software companies in the world. They own the Windows Operating System, Microsoft Office, Skype, and SharePoint among other software products. They also do custom software development for large scale projects.

My role is in designing software modules for custom software development projects. Generally I am required to have detailed programming and architectural knowledge of certain packages that we specialise in within my domain. Mostly I work on which is the Microsoft Technology for building web applications, .Net Programming languages, SQL Server Databases, SharePoint- a high end content management system and CRM- Customer Relationship Management System.

Tell us a little bit about your career history?

O.k. My first job was as a Sales Analyst at First Pack Marketing, I then joined the procurement department as a Procurement Officer. My next engagement was with SIRDC (Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Center) as a Research Associate in Software Engineering. I was then promoted to the post of Research Scientist in Software Engineering. My role at SIRDC focused on custom development of desktop based software.

After SIRDC I joined BlackForest Technologies which focused on an ERP called Dynamics NAV but I wasn’t so much into accounting so they allowed me to focus on web based modules and SharePoint.

I then went on to become an independent consultant focusing on Web Applications and SharePoint Development. This was an exciting period for me because I got to focus on exactly what I wanted to do. I also got good project opportunities developing systems for organisations such as higher tertiary institutions, an NGO and even a hospital.

Four years later I was head hunted for an opportunity at Microsoft which I then moved into until present day.

Was this always your dream career or it changed somewhere along the line?

The earliest career choice I can remember was Archaeology and History during my form 1-2 days. Then going into O level I wanted to become a lawyer. During my form 5 days I went to a career guidance fair and decided I wanted to go into finance. At this time I was doing sciences at Goromonzi High School so shifting into finances was going to be tough. I also fell in love with programming in my upper 6. I remember I had two book prizes that year, best student sciences and best student physics. They used to give students Kingston Vouchers so I bought a book on parallel programming (which I never really understood at the time) and another on Operations Management. My aim at the time was to go onto to do software engineering in the finance sectors. I still have those books but they never proved useful.

After A level I tried so much not to go to varsity. I applied to Chartered Accounting companies, Banks, tried to get a place at Old Mutual for Actuarial Science, tried to get my family to support me in doing an IOBZ (Institute of Bankers) diploma. It might seem crazy but there was a theme to my efforts, the idea was to study something leading to finances and to then write IT programming certifications. In short I would say clear direction of where I was going came up in U6, though I would later discover I didn’t need the finance studies for what I wanted to do. 

How closely does your academic education fit in with your job?

From a certain angle it fits very well. After my A level, I went on to study a General at the UZ. The first year had Statistics, Computer Science and Mathematics. The next year I was awarded an honours in Mathematics so I took that up and left off Computer Science and Statistics. So I graduated with an honours degree in Mathematics.

Math is about logical thinking whilst Programming is a computer based implementation of logic, I don’t think there is a programme which better prepares one for programming than Mathematics. If you look at the large companies such as Microsoft and Google, you will find that they take in a lot of mathematicians.

What educational path got you where you are? Could you have made the path shorter?

Math alone is like a powerful engine without the body, so to make it useful I chose to write programming certifications. I hold the following certifications:

·         Microsoft Certified Trainer

·         Microsoft Certified Solution Builder: App Builder

·         Microsoft Certified Solution Developer: Web Applications

·         Microsoft Certified Specialist in Html5 with Javascript and CSS3

·         Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: .Net Framework and Web Applications

I also have certificates from UZ for Oracle PL/SQL development and Linux.

I believe this path could have been made shorter. For example if an O level student leaves Zimbabwe and goes to another country they can pursue a degree or other tertiary qualification. A Level generally serves as a selection stage and I think those two years could be better used, say if you opted to do a professional qualification instead.

What are the tasks that you do regularly in your profession?

·         Talking to customers to understand their business and challenges

·         Documenting business requirements

·         Technical design of software solutions around customer requirements

·         Software Development

·         Database Development

·         Software Testing

·         Troubleshooting

Can you tell us some of the projects you have worked on, which you found interesting?

Seeing a software solution making an organisation more efficient is always exciting to me. I was the first developer in Zimbabwe to link a university with its banks so that transactions are just moved from point of payment to the accounting system without requiring deposit slips to be taken manually to the accounts department. I have also built student portals and an intelligent communications solution which can query a system database and send SMS/ email communications to each client of the organisation. That was all during the period when I was an independent consultant. Under Microsoft I have also had the opportunity of working on what I believe is the largest Information Management System in the country.

What is it that excites you the most when you are doing your job?

Well in software engineering, you get to visit different businesses and even different countries. So I have loved the diversity. I also love that I get to work online, that means I can work from anywhere. I set up my office at home so that when I’m not doing client/site visits I don’t have to travel for work.

What bits do you find boring in your daily tasks?

The challenge in Zimbabwe is connectivity, the internet is a nightmare. This is not something that individuals can solve easily so all I guess we can do is lobby and wait for better services from the ISPs.

Any advice to those studying or aiming at this job or career?

I wrote a whole article on this. Software Engineering is a career that anyone can excel in as long as they are willing to continuously update their skills. If you are coming from another field or discipline, just find a short course to introduce you to programming, then pick a specialisation, get hands on, practice and finally write certifications. I have found certifications very rewarding. Usually you will have to write 1-3 tough exams, but once you are done, you are good to go!

Lastly in IT you really have to specialise because its sooo wide. Specialisations fall into:

·         Networking and distributed systems

·         Data management (databases, business intelligence, data science etc.)

·         Software development (mobile, desktop, web applications, artificial intelligence etc.)

And even within those you still need to zero in on particular technologies.