Breaking New Ground In Male-dominated ICT Sector

Euro 2024

Kemi Ariyo is the founder of Brightstar Integral Technology, a service delivery company that provides a combination of technology and consulting services.

Similarly, as the only female IT Director in Airtel Africa, Kemi Ariyo experiences have been both challenging and rewarding.

According to Ariyo, she often finds herself breaking new ground and setting precedents, which comes with a heightened sense of responsibility to serve as a role model.

“Navigating a male-dominated industry requires resilience and assertiveness, but it also offers a unique perspective that can drive innovation and inclusivity. I am proud to contribute to a more diverse and dynamic industry landscape, and I am committed to mentoring and supporting other women in technology,” she affirmed.

Speaking on her role as the only female IT Director of Airtel Nigeria, Ariyo said she feels an immense sense of responsibility for the success of the technical team. “Being the group’s largest market brings both opportunities and pressures and my role is pivotal in ensuring that our technology infrastructure supports our business objectives and that we remain competitive,” she assured.

Ariyo has said that in order to succeed in her new position, she will set a good example for the team and encourage a collaborative atmosphere where everyone feels appreciated and inspired to contribute to the group’s success. “Also, being the only female IT Director in Airtel Africa, I am particularly motivated to inspire and mentor my team, showing them that diversity and inclusion are integral to our collective success,” she stated.



However, the road to this accomplishment wasn’t without its difficulties, as Ariyo has had to deal with what she called daily and continual challenges, which include staying ahead of rapid technological changes, ensuring cybersecurity, maintaining system uptime, and managing a diverse team across various locations.

“Additionally, aligning IT initiatives with business goals and navigating the complexities of regulatory compliance in the telecom industry are ongoing tasks. Balancing these demands while driving innovation and efficiency is a constant challenge,” she stated.

The Japa wave is causing a talent shortage in the tech sector, which is a significant concern because the quality of human resources available is inadequate, she continued.

But with strategic planning, ongoing education, and good teamwork, she has been able to overcome these obstacles. “I also emphasize continuous professional development for my team, ensuring we are equipped with the latest skills and knowledge,” she says. “I place a high value on open communication and cultivate a resilient and problem-solving culture.

“Establishing robust connections with relevant parties and monitoring market developments enable us to effectively predict and adjust to changes. We have also resulted to grooming professionals to ensure they upskill to fill the skill gaps being experienced.”

In an increasingly worldwide digital sector, Ariyo talked about the lessons she’s learned from running her firm in Nigeria, being a female engineer, and being African. “I have learned that nothing is impossible through thinking outside the box and being innovative,” she said. Delivering the best value is possible if you are persistent and focused.”

Education and Career

Kemi Ariyo is currently the IT director at Airtel Nigeria. She is also the founder of Brightstar Integral Technology, a service delivery company that provides a combination of technology and consulting services.

According to Ariyo, Brightstar Integral Technology’s core competency is developed through extensive worldwide exposure to a variety of business processes, industries, and technologies.

The company’s strength lies in providing clients focused Business Consulting and Re-engineering of IT Services through custom software development and Unique Product offerings, she said, adding that the company serves multi industries, including government agencies, consulting firms, banking industry, travel Industry and health Insurance, among others.

“We are industry agnostic. Some of our key projects include design and implementation of a Human Resource & Payroll System across all the Local Government in Lagos State; Business Process Automation across Lagos State; Know Your Employee System in UBA; Cross Country Payments across Africa for UBA and design and Implementation of the AURA system for Transcorp PLC, among others,” she added.

So far, Ariyo’s company has been able to make a difference in the sectors it serves, as it has helped to streamline and automate their process to provide them the ability to focus on their core business.

Being a tech professional and at the same time an entrepreneur, has indeed made Ariyo, a force to reckon with, as she has been able to understand the business side of things as well as the technology, thereby giving her a unique opportunity to be an entrepreneur and solve problems using tech.
Kemi Ariyo holds a Master of Science (MSc) in Information security at Royal Holloway, University of London from 2010 to 2011 and a B.ENG in Information, Communication Technology at Covenant University from 2003 to 2008.

She had previously served as the director, Information Technology, Airtel Nigeria from 2023 to 2024; Information Technology Analyst, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, onsite from April 2022 to September 2022; Telecom Business Operations analyst at IBM from Feb 2013 to July 2017 and Application Support Analyst at ISSOLUTIONS from December 2011 to February 2013, and others.

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