Chinaza Nduka-DikeChinaza Nduka-Dike is Head of People Operations at TeamApt, a global business payments and banking platform.

One of the first 10 employees in the business, Chinaza has played a pivotal role in cultivating the dynamic and ambitious culture of TeamApt. In her role she is responsible for talent acquisition and developing and implementing TeamApt’s HR strategy.

Chinaza is passionate about championing women in fintech, leading TeamApt’s annual “Women in tech” paid internship programme to kickstart the careers of some of the best global tech talent. Chinaza earned a BA in Mathematics from the University of Nigeria and is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) of Nigeria.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am currently Head of People Operations at TeamApt, which is a digital business and banking platform headquartered in the UK and operating in Nigeria. For the last four years, I have been responsible for the development and implementation of HR strategies and initiatives with the overall business strategy. My main aim is to establish TeamApt as a company that cares about its employees and one that attracts people who want their work to make a real-world impact. I originally joined the business in 2016 as a Project Manager in the engineering team, and in this role, I was a representative for the implementation of Access Bank’s Assets and Liability Management Project. I have a diploma in personnel management and am also a licensed HR practitioner.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not really. I knew I wanted to go into the tech world as I studied mathematics at university and I’ve always had an analytical mind. However, that was as far as my plans went. It all came about after I completed my Youth Service, and TeamApt presented itself to me as a fintech start-up that was dynamic, young and quickly growing. I joined as a Project Manager, as the company’s only female manager at the time. From this moment forward, I followed the opportunities that presented themselves to me. In the early stages of start-up life, I wore multiple hats, building a full spectre of skills as TeamApt was just starting out. This all led to and contributed to my suitability to be Head of People of Operations. It’s funny because I had always thought I’d stay in an analytical role, however, in hindsight I have come to realise that my analytical skill and understanding of our engineering team is what has helped me understand their language and how we can best support them as a company.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Starting out in TeamApt as the only female project manager of course had its challenges. I was also among the first 10 people in the company so I had to set out my own path. It can be tough for a woman not seeing someone like you who can act as your role model. But my own experience has been what has driven me to grow the number of women that are employed in TeamApt, while also implementing the structures needed to encourage more women into tech.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’d say my biggest career achievement has been being part of TeamApt’s growth journey from the early stages, to now part of a business that is helping to digitise Africa’s economy. We’re incredibly proud of that fact. To have seen the business go from 10 to now 1000 team members has been amazing to witness. In addition, fostering a positive working environment where employees love working for TeamApt and working towards that common objective is something I’m very proud of on a personal level.

What’s one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Taking every opportunity that is presented to me and running with it has definitely helped me to succeed in my career, as well as ensuring I do any job to the best of my ability.

When our founder and CEO Tosin Eniolorunda presented the role of Head of People Operations I was initially hesitant, as I couldn’t see how it fit with my analytical skills. However, I soon realised how wrong I was. I had all the understanding and experience to pick up the role and my confidence grew. Very quickly I realised I wanted to make an impactful change and build the working environment needed to enable this. That’s been the best lesson in achieving success: to just take an opportunity and run with it. This is something I’d encourage every woman working in tech – or in any sector – to do.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

I’d encourage someone wanting to excel in a career in this sector to work on their technical depth and approach things from a fundamental standpoint. This is one of our core values in TeamApt and it’s why we’re recognised as the best in Africa as far as quality talent is concerned. We also strive to make sure that incoming employees are consistent with this value. As a prospective hire, once you establish your quality and value, companies will be falling over themselves to have you on their team.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Women are too often left underserved in the tech sector. In Nigeria – where a lot of our global team is based – women have historically been considered “homemakers” while technical roles were seen as a man’s job. We’re passionate about lowering the barriers for entry for female engineers and take an active approach in bringing them into our business.

TeamApt runs an annual “Women in Tech” paid internship programme to kickstart the careers of some of the best global tech talent. The programme starts before Women’s Month in March and provides a structured learning environment for women to nurture their skills and apply themselves autonomously in a startup environment, with the opportunity to join as full time engineers at the end of the programme. 80% of last year’s cohort remained in our developer team, and are still driving change today. These kinds of initiatives have been proven to give women 10 times the earning potential than they would have previously.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

It’s really important to focus on hiring senior women into your leadership teams. Women need role models that are women. One way to do this is to ensure that you actively shortlist qualified female candidates. Often businesses claim that simply no or few women apply for these roles. To that I say: revisit your job adverts! It’s vital that the language used in a job advert is gender neutral to reach and encourage more women to apply.

More broadly, we need to recognise that many women have different demands when it comes to their working circumstances, which is a key driver for our policy to allow TeamApt employees to work from anywhere in the world. Staff can work remote-only or hybrid, and this has helped us to attract more women to the business as they can flex their work pattern to their family needs. We’d encourage other businesses to take a similar stance.

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech – if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

As well as the education piece, I’d like to see more benefits tailored to the working woman. As someone who recently had a child myself, I’m passionate about offering prolonged maternity leave to staff members. Paternity leave schemes should also not be underestimated, as this can lead to improved gender equality and remove the expectation that it will be women taking time out of work to raise children.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Continuous improvement can come in many forms, not just for women but for everyone. It might be courses outside of work, or books, or even having a mentor as a sounding board to learn from. My advice would be to take any opportunity to advance your knowledge and skillset – it’s never time wasted.