Home / NEWS / Ghanaian software engineer Maureen Biney wins top tech UK innovator award

Ghanaian software engineer Maureen Biney wins top tech UK innovator award

Such a proud moment for Ghana and women in tech on the African continent and on a day such as the International Women’s Day there’s no better moment than now to share the strides being made by female Ghanaian software engineers such as Maureen Biney! I came across her recent Innovator Award presented to her by EveryWomanUK whilst scrolling through my Instagram feed and I instantly had to give her my accolades for her incredible contributions in the tech industry.

Maureen Biney is a Ghanaian software engineer working at AMEX in the United Kingdom. Before moving to the UK she worked at worked at Ringier on e-commerce and an applicant tracking systems. She was nominated for by EveryWoman in Tech UK Awards at the end of last year. The Innovator award (sponsored by Equiniti) was awarded to a woman designing, developing, researching, implementing or being exceptionally creative with technology in an unconventional and innovative way.

What current work in the tech industry are you involved in outside your existing role at American Express?

Outside of my core role at American Express, I volunteer at Code Club at a local school to teach children how to code. We usually do Scratch, and we started using Blender late last year.

At work, we usually have our colleagues’ children (between the ages of 7 and 12) come into the office for an all-day programming session. We take them through robotics, html, programming the Arduino and micro: bit.

I also volunteered to teach front-end design as part of Code Girls which is now known as Tech Girls. This is aimed at girls in schools in the Sussex area. The sessions are run as a mini career fair where the girls rotate in groups to each of the ‘stands’ to learn about different careers (Front-end development, cryptography, Security, QA etc.) in IT.

I am also a member of the Women in Tech Colleague network at Amex. As part of that, I organize monthly round-table sessions with Vice-President’s and Senior Vice-Presidents s at work. These are very informal sessions where attendees get to hear about the VPs career journeys and get to ask them questions.

I also recently started running the Learn New Tech Series (with my colleague Nelly Kiboi) for the campus we work at. These are lunch and learn sessions for people in tech and outside of tech to learn tech-related topics. The sessions are aimed at women, but we welcome men with open arms too. The first one was a Javascript session which was so popular that we have run the same thing about 5 different times. We have had colleagues from HR, Finance, Treasury and product managers attending.

I have also developed a database application for healthcare facilities in Ghana to use to keep patient information. This is currently being used by 4 hospitals, and I am looking to do some more work on that and get more hospitals on board.

What field do you work in and what’s your area of expertise?

I am in the field of Financial Technology and I am currently a Java Engineer, but I have been in a variety of tech roles at Amex. I have done .NET development, Technical Analysis, Product Management, Data Engineering. I quite like that I have been able to move around a lot to do different things within Technologies.

Why and how did you got into tech?

Growing up, I really didn’t think I will be in tech :D. At home, we had a computer teacher who used to come every Saturday to give us lessons in DOS lol. I remember I used to love Mavis Beacon and that’s just as far as it went. I loved learning French so much I thought I wanted to learn some more languages and work in the UN. When the time came for university, I knew I wanted to study in Ghana, so I went to Ashesi University (the best decision) I have made in life.

I was confused about what I wanted to study at Ashesi. There were three degrees at Ashesi when I was there – Computer Science, Management Information Systems and Business Administration. I chose MIS because that gave me an opportunity to choose modules from both Computer Science and Business Admin. My first ever programming module was Visual Basic. And that is how I fell in love with technology. I used one mid-semester break to try all sorts of things with VB – I even built a calculator with it.

After that, I wanted to do more and more of it and learn other languages. I am particularly excited about how technology can be used to make business processes efficient, faster, cheaper and of the highest quality. Maybe I like being bossy and telling the computer what to do 😀

What Is your opinion on diversity in the tech space?

I really hope we can get to that point where this will be a normal thing so that we wouldn’t have to talk about it. There isn’t a lot of female representation in technology but I feel this is improving a lot.

I know some super amazing women in tech at Amex and outside Amex and I look up to a lot of them. But it isn’t just about gender, but ethnicity, sexual orientation too.

How has it been balancing work as a software engineer and being an amazing mum?

Not a lot of people know that I am a mum and I laugh about it all the time. It is the most incredible thing that I have had to do, and the most amazing feeling! I love it. Amex is very, very supportive of working parents.

The flexibility that comes with working at Amex is great, and I don’t know if I will find that anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, parenting is hard work (very hard work) but there is a level of satisfaction that comes with it that I won’t trade for anything else. I am still learning something new about myself and Aria every day.

I don’t sleep much, so when my daughter is sleeping and not asking 1 million questions, I use the time to work, or put my feet up. One day, I’ll tell the world all about her!

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