Top expert securing Africa’s cyberspace

Cybersecurity Engineer Bright Gameli Mawudor

Cybersecurity Engineer Bright Gameli Mawudor.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • One of my greatest breakthroughs was getting my first paper published in Korea and presented as the first Black Engineer at that particular conference which opened doors for me.
  • Towards the end of my course at Daystar I got a job with Cellulant which was and still is one of the best technology companies in Africa.

Dr Bright Gameli Mawudor is a cyber-security engineer, researcher and the head at Managed Cyber Security Services at Dimension Data (MEA). He is also the founder of the Cyber Security collective Africahackon, the first-ever Live demonstration Cyber Security Conference in East and Central Africa.

He is also a cyber-security lecturer at Strathmore University. The 33-year-old shares his career path with the Sunday Nation.

I grew up in a very small town in the Volta Region of Ghana for the better part of my childhood. I attended Dora Memorial School where I learnt a lot of things. I got exposed to computers at a tender age. One day we were moving houses and my dad had a briefcase and in it was a laptop.

 So he showed me a few things on it and promised to take me to a school where I’d learn more though that took longer than we thought because of the moving out.

Coincidentally, during the settling in, I came across a book called Ms-Dos 6 and read it cover to cover. Not much of a reader but this was an exception leading me to create my first computer virus at age eight.

At about 10 years of age, I was enrolled for a 10-week course to learn more about computer fundamentals, but I sat for the exam after the first five hours and passed.

Computer virus

At age 14, we moved to Kenya and I joined at St Mary's School. Here is where I created my second computer virus. There was only one computer connected to the internet at the library, and it was a first come first serve basis. I created a virus lock that required a special code to unlock the computer so no one could use it before me.

I later joined Daystar University for a Computer Science course. Here again, I took my hacking skills a notch higher and even got into trouble with the law enforcement, but I explained my case and was let go.

Towards the end of my course at Daystar I got a job with Cellulant which was and still is one of the best technology companies in Africa.

The experience at Cellulant was one of a kind as they threw me at the deep end of projects allowing for creativity of solutions but with guidance and assistance.

After two years at Cellulant, I got a scholarship to study for a Masters in Advanced Information Science and Technology at the Pukyong National University in South Korea.

While there, I was able to balance doing coursework, my thesis and exploring jobs online as I built my skills in cyber security.

 It was not easy, but I was happy I was making good money on the side. So, after two years, I graduated and flew back to Kenya the same day. But my dad wanted me to do my PhD immediately. I was only 26 and did not see the logic in that.

Greatest breakthroughs

I went back to the same university and did my PhD in IT Convergence and Application Engineering. While at it, I did a lot of consulting jobs for various companies. I was also advertising myself a lot, especially on LinkedIn.

The PhD programme got me to publish a lot of papers as it was the only way to graduate which was an intense two years. I graduated on my 28th birthday and by now I had applied to over 60 jobs , with more than 80% rejection letters and a few unsuccessful interviews.

I came back to Cellulant as the Head of Cyber Security after a thorough interview, worked for one year before moving to Internet Solutions Kenya.

One of my greatest breakthroughs was getting my first paper published in Korea and presented as the first Black Engineer at that particular conference which opened doors for me.

Also, through Africahackon, we have had very many success stories mentoring and teaching children as young as 11 years about cyber security.

My key driver has been consistency. I am not one to give up. My family has also been very instrumental in my career growth. There is also one Tyrus Kamau from Cellulant and he has immensely mentored me throughout as well as Wambura Kimunyu and Ken Njoroge, CEO of Cellulant, who has pushed me in navigating life.

My advice to the youth is, follow what you want to do and do not let your age limit you. It is never too early or too late to start on something.  Parting shot: Stop comparing yourself with other people. We are differently gifted so find what makes you tick and go with it.

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