Alex Makukula, a Senior Software engineer has been at Cellulant for 3 years cumulatively. He describes himself as resilient and a go-getter who is always up for a challenge.
Outside work, Alex loves football and is also a diehard Manchester United Supporter.
Alex takes us on a tour through his career at Cellulant.
What do you do at Cellulant?
I build revenue generating applications and support clients, particularly banks, to integrate into Cellulant. The integrations banks and other clients build into Cellulant leverage off the various integrations that Cellulant has into a wide range of merchants. Yes, in short I help a number of africans buy talktime and Pay TV from their mobile banking application from the comfort of their homes.
The first time I was asked this question I responded by mentioning my title but as I later learnt, what I do in Cellulant is not necessarily a title but the value that I give to the various clients I interact with. The fact that this directly affects people’s everyday work gives me a lot of Joy.
What drives you?
I am generally a curious person, my work gives me a lot of room to be curious and discover new things. The process from being a novice to being someone that has two cents is something that gives me the utmost satisfactions and fuels my desire to learn and be driven.
My time at Cellulant has offered me a lot of opportunities to grow. I came to Cellulant as a novice and feel I have gained a lot. The fact that I still have numerous opportunities to grow, learn and evolve is something that keeps me motivated.
Further to this, the day to day work I do at Cellulant affects actual people, it solves real problems and makes life easier for a lot of people. If this isn’t reason enough to stay motivated and driven, I don’t know what is.
What new ways of doing things will you keep from this past year?
From the last time I was at Cellulant to now, a lot has changed. We have adopted a modern way of building software and having continuous delivery. For me, this new cloud centric approach to delivering software to customers is something that I believe I should incorporate more fully into my way of working. It makes work easier.
What are you looking forward to solving for the market this year?
Being in Digital banking, most of our tasks are directly related to the needs of the Bank, to that end most of what I intend on doing is becoming more efficient at delivering applications and integrations that meet the expectations of the banks and by extension their customers.
What is something you wish you knew earlier in your life?
I wish I knew that I didn’t really need to know everything for me to succeed. As far back as I can remember, I always expected myself to know everything, this ranged from the most minor things to things that were actually life altering, looking back this was a reflection of my inexperience.
What I have come to realize now is that the beauty of the human ecosystem is that we often compliment each other and what I lack in a particular sphere of life is often something that someone else may aid me with, this is not to say we never stop trying to learn but that it is okay not to be a jack of all trades.
Our day to day activities, at Cellulant, give evidence of the need for team work and accepting the fact that no man is an island.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Over my now not so short life, I have accomplished a few things that have left me proud and teary eyed. One thing that always touches me and keeps my head held high is seeing just how Tingg has grown in Zambia. When I first Joined Cellulant in 2018 (This is before my prodigal son stint) I was assigned to work on Tingg or as it was then called Mula. I would be lying if I said the experience was all rosy from the beginning but we kept pushing, I remember my boss then, Jeniffer, and I would spend a long time in the office board room trying to figure out the next big product we could build that would catapult Tingg to the heights we imagined it would reach.
Seeing products, like the instore proposition evolve from being a proof of concept we built for Zambia and for one merchant into what it has become now gives me so much pride, it is a clear indication that whatever contribution we make in life goes a long way in helping the big cause.
These days, it is easy to explain where I work because of Tingg, how can I surely not be proud?
What is the best career advice you have received so far?
I tried to come up with some fancy one liner but I failed lol, to be entirely honest most of the career advice I have received has not really been a one liner like Uncle Ben gave to Spider man (With great power comes great responsibility), for me it has been people speaking randomly and I am sure most don’t even realise how much that has helped me.
For instance, my former boss Chalemela once told me to be more confident in myself, according to him I would mostly shy away from expressing my opinions on things that I would have offered a different and meaningful perspective. Those words were said in passing, it wasn’t a mentorship session but the effects of those words have been with me since the day they were spoken, I see myself as someone who has grown since then.
In your own words, what does Cellulant want to do in Africa and why is that inspirational for you?
With the risk of sounding cheesy, my answer to this question is that ‘we make possible’, this one phrase can be seen in the various undertakings we have had over the years.
We touch people’s lives and help them have a better world in the payments space. Seeing this inspires me, being part of this tenacious and always evolving team is something that empowers me and makes me want to even do more.