IT guys are the most interesting people

Sunday September 19 2021

Donald Twesigye. PHOTO/Andrew Kaggwa

By Andrew Kaggwa

So are your Mondays always this free?
It is business as, I could be home or in the office but I will still be working. For IT Monday to Sunday can feel the same, the difference is that you will have fewer meetings but we are always working. It is not like the legal team and departments such as finance, for them a weekend is a weekend. Not us.

They say telecom companies are the biggest winners in the pandemic…
It is a yes and no. Of course with people working from home and they are using a lot of data, but like all the other people, some of the workers are finding it hard to move. But we are doing slightly better. Just slightly.

In movies, IT guys have unkempt  hair and seem fun to hang around..
The job is fun because you see things happening in real time. If it is a hack, a transaction or something, with the right tools, you will see it happening or even manage to stop it.

Are you talking about hacking as it happens in movies? 

Why would someone hack?
In our line of duty we deal with a lot of data. These days, data has become of interest to many people. But some people will hack to sabotage, to benefit possible competitors and there are also those that do it for fun.

What exactly do you do?
I’m the director of IT at Airtel Uganda. I work with different teams, one that works with the shops around the country, the service delivery projects, new innovations, and a team that looks at governance, Airtel Money operation and analytics team among others.


It sounds interesting and confusing at the same time
I know, IT is a language itself. Just like people study Latin, coding is a language.

You deal with a lot of feedback, have you read some of those mean tweets about your service?
I see that all the time. There are those nasty ones but social media is social media, someone will put up a savage tweet because they are bored thus you will follow up some queries but can’t take it personal.

Do you ever run out of data or credit?
I have to always be online thus, I cannot be out of data. 

Was any of your dates ever disrupted because the network was down?
Yes, it wasn’t here, it was in Kenya. I went out on a date and just after we had ordered, I received information that there were issues with the network thus I told my wife that we were going to do a takeaway. So I went home and she ate as I was doing the work.

Have you heard of myths about IT guys?
Yes, people say that IT guys are the most boring.

How true is that?
Very wrong, they bring the world to you in a different perspective which is intriguing and interesting. If you are  a person that listens, they bring a different view of the world to you. Generally, their thinking is totally different.

Which African country have you enjoyed working in the most?
Kenya. It gives you a bit of both worlds from an African setting. It is developed and yet it still gives you an African feel – you will for example see a game park in Nairobi but next to it is the tallest building. It gives you a bit of both, it is very cosy.

Do you cook?
Besides boiling water. I cook. When I have the time, I roll up the sleeves go shop and cook.

What do you enjoy cooking the most?
I like Italian food, the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, Bologna, pasta, those kind of things. Maybe a steak in the oven, jacket potatoes, you know such things.

Do other people like your food or it is just you?
I think it is for me purely, I don’t think other people like my food as much as I do.

Tell me about your first car?
It was a Starlet, it had a turbo thing at the front. It was in 2000 and those days, having that car was respectable. It was used but it was in good condition. 

How much was it?

Which was your first job?
When I was at university I worked part time with Infocom, the current Liquid Telecom. We were pioneers of internet. My first formal job was with MTN.

What were the clients’ internet demands, sending emails?
Yes, there were lots of problems because there was a big learning curve. People had bought internet but had no idea of how to send email but knew they should be able to. So, besides the service, you had to teach them how to send an email. People would send an email and the recipient would receive it two hours later, on a day with less traffic.

How much did you get paid for the Infocom job?
It was about Shs200,000, and I remember the day I received my first salary I went and told my dad that I was going to become independent. Shs200,000 at that time may be equivalent to today’s Shs2m.