Interestingly, Paul Mwachi, Country Manager – iSys, confirmed this, giving some sort of comfort that it wasn’t an unfounded observation. In an interview with Paul, it became evident that our Kilimani member is genuinely passionate and inspired by his job. We were able to throw a spotlight on the impact that iSys is making in Kenya and the world at large.
Paul: iSys is a Danish company founded in 1999 with offices in Copenhagen and Nairobi, Kenya. In June of 2008, it was incorporated in Kenya and has continued to focus on developing and creating a unique model of combining skilled programmers and experienced project management into a comprehensive delivery model that meets the best international standards.
Our belief since then has been that if you work with the top 10% percent then you are getting quality worth the top 10% globally. It was incorporated at such an opportune time in Kenya when we had just gotten wind of broadband and faiba.
The goal was to create quality IT jobs that would become careers for software developers. It felt like we were the “Mecca” of software development as people would graduate from campus with the hope of working with us.
When we were starting out, I dare say that we were a monopoly in the market. However, over the years competition increased with the establishment of other international companies like Microsoft in the country. Nonetheless, we are still in the top tier rank.
Paul: When we were starting out our inspiration was to create jobs that would kick-start the careers for all the skilled software developers who worked with us. The money was definitely a plus but it was not all about it.
We provided a challenging environment so as to push developers to become better at all times. Having an open-plan office layout worked great for us as it made it easier for people to work as a team and to interact with each other.
Twice a year our staff would visit the parent company in Denmark which has always been an experience that they look forward to.
Paul: We create a team around a client, unlike the traditional software development where you have a product that you build and try to push out. For example, our flagship program has been a planning and allocation system for public transport in Denmark.
We have a team that works with the organization to understand the challenges that they are trying to resolve and then invent solutions that actually work. Always keeping in mind time and cost in project management at the forefront.
Usually, we engage in long-term projects where we understand the problem our customer is trying to resolve in the market they are operating in, whether it is an innovative solution to their customers or to improve their efficiency or output of their staff, and then we build custom systems for them.
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For The transport solution, we had trains moving around but we needed to have a way of predicting the time of the train arriving. The traditional way of doing it was a simple mathematical calculation of speed divided by distance but we thought that things happen on the road that is beyond human control.
We invented a statistical method that calculates over a particular period, as the train moves, we are tracking it on GPS so that we are able to tell its location and the speed it is moving at in different places.
This idea was borrowed here for one of our local customers. It is a bank in which we run their information systems. All our work follows the same ethos of forming a team around a client and creating a custom solution for them. It is more of a team effort with their various departments and our project management team.
Paul: One other thing that we are doing for local companies is that we have partnered with advertising agencies. A lot of things are now digital and the principles of marketing, sales, and operations rarely change, IT simply becomes a tool.
However, most agencies don’t have dedicated technical teams so we provide technical support to do their backend work such as apps, building websites, workflows, forms, server installations, networks, etc.
Paul: We prefer to walk the journey with our partners hence we always aim for long-term projects so that we ensure that the solution we provide solves the problem. Doing a good job is really critical for us as over the years it has enabled us to increase our market share through referrals. We have three core values:
Paul: The desire to actually find a solution for my clients. I am so keen to make sure that what we promise is delivered. Weirdly, I am trained as a Graphic Designer but over the last 20 years, I have been working in the IT world. This sets me apart as I am able to incorporate my visual skills with technology to create a visually appealing solution for our customers.
Technology gives functionality but there is the user experience that makes it smooth for a human being to use the tool created. That’s where my heart is and what I try to deliver continuously. Whenever I am recruiting, I look for commitment in finding solutions and not just the skills and qualifications.
Paul: It is said that you can’t create what you have not seen. When I have a creators’ block one of the things I do is to take a break, after all, nobody is a robot. Do something that you enjoy, watch a movie, play a sport, call your favorite person and just recharge.
Then expose yourself to many things across different generations, it helps to break the creators’ block. The moment of invention is not a moment but a culmination of little bits of information.
Paul: We set up a company in Kenya that became a pioneer, now the students have become better than the master. The quality of staff that went through us has grown to greater heights, a testament to the environment that we provide for them.
Personally, I am still able to find workable solutions for business. I don’t write code but I am able to think from a physical and business perspective. Plus, I have two well-adjusted teenage children at the moment and I hope that they stay like that.
Paul: One of the things that I have found that works for iSys and my personal life are to strive for excellence. Be as good as you possibly can at what you do because when you produce quality consistently, people will come to you.
Develop your own personal skill in the organization because whether you are in or out of the organization your skill remains with you. Kizuri chajiuza (something good sells itself)!
Paul: I like the space. The open plan, a nice non-cubical setup for me is a good space for creativity, order, and organization. You get coffee, plenty of coffee, and the chance to meet multiple organizations which is a good experience. The multiple events at times generate business inquiries which is a great addition.
We are excited to be a part of iSys’ journey, as they work towards providing technological solutions to day-to-day challenges that individuals and businesses are met with.
Featured Photo by Mati Mango from Pexels