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DataLike: Interview with Motunrayo Kilanko

Motunrayo Kilanko is a seasoned data management and analytics specialist who has worked in the fields of data analysis, data management, and data annotation for machine learning. She works presently as a management analyst with a government healthcare agency in the State of Delaware, United States. She is also an AI enthusiast that teaches women how to use AI for their work and business. Her career interests spans Data, AI, public health, and empowerment of women.

She is the founder of Femote, a social impact startup that provides business support and outsourcing services such as data annotation, data processing, and data entry to companies around the world by trained and skilled female professionals from Africa. She also created the Femote School, which aims to close the gender gap and promote women’s participation and inclusion in the digital economy by providing them with digital skills training and upskilling. Her start-up, Femote, was featured in MovingWorlds. She has also been featured in Upwork’s 2022 Investment Impact Report and Stack Journal.

Hi Motunrayo, could you recap what were your first steps in the field of data, and how you got started?

My data career journey began during my undergraduate years as a public health student at Babcock University. Towards the end of my third year at the university, an assistant professor in my department, some of my classmates, and I participated in a research and statistics training program.

It was an immersion program for me where I learned about research methodology, some statistical methods, and data analysis. The session I enjoyed the most was the data analysis session using tools like SPSS and Epi Info. After the training program, I helped my classmates analyze their final year papers and also trained some students on how to analyze their data using SPSS.

This was the beginning of my data journey, and I continued to work with data in various capacities throughout my postgraduate studies and early career. In 2018, I transitioned to tech, and in 2019, I started my journey as a data annotation specialist and data analyst at a startup in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Can you share a particularly challenging moment in your career and how you overcame it?

One of the challenges I faced in my career was moving from the learning phase to the point where I started applying for jobs. I also thought I needed to know all the tools before I could start using my skills.

I later discovered that most of the learning you do is on the job, especially in the beginning. Sometimes you learn about one tool and another tool is used by your prospective employer.

I have learned to keep my learning up to date and get my hands dirty quickly when I need to learn something new or a new tool or platform is needed for my work.

What advice would you give to someone just starting in data?

Don’t wait till you are an expert before taking on projects. Don’t stay too long in the learning phase, explore internships, apprenticeships, and free work to start.

Also, go on LinkedIn, search for the kind of role you want, and make a list of the most sought-after skills; both hard and soft skills and learn those quickly. AI is disrupting every industry, so start learning and exploring AI tools to do your projects.

AI will help you 10x your productivity as a data professional but be careful not to use sensitive data on public AI tools.

You can keep up with Motunrayo on LinkedIn and Mainstack.




Ndane Ndazhaga is a Data Scientist who loves using data to improve businesses and help make decisions.
Ndane Ndazhaga is a Data Scientist who loves using data to improve businesses and help make decisions.

Isabella Bicalho-Frazeto is an all-things machine learning person who advocates for democratizing machine learning.
Isabella Bicalho-Frazeto is an all-things machine learning person who advocates for democratizing machine learning.

Datalike




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