My good friend Heather Ford has just announced that she is working for Ushahidi/Swift River as an ethnographer.
Now why would I write a blogpost about that? I have quite a number of friends and many of them move to new and exciting career opportunities. I think that the story which Heather tells in her announcement is an important one. You will have to read Heather’s own account to get the story.
There are aspects of this story which are opposite of the sub-text of media and corporate stories.
Heather describes how she went back to university to learn.
Perhaps that shouldn’t be such a surprising statement that I was tempted to end it with an exclamation mark, but it is. The prevalent message is our age and time is that one should go back to school to pick up a qualification that is currently in demand by incumbent industries. But Heather didn’t do that, she wanted a space to work on some of the problems she’d experienced as she headed up the iCommons team. Even on its own account the corporate story doesn’t work, while it makes a lot of sense to engage in continuous learning, acquire skills demanded in the market it doesn’t make as much sense
Heather sought to work on what she is passionate about. She is passionate about technology, and about Africa, and about the potential for technology to change Africa in positive ways. Heather wrote an essay on the Missing Wikipedians, in which she talked about the way African knowledge was systematically undervalued even in open peer produced Wikipedia. That essay prompted the creation of the position for which Heather was hired.
Heather shared her story. Heather describes how surprised and gratified she was. We need more leaders with can share inspiring stories as simply, humbly and gracefully as Heather has.
PS: Heather has been an amazingly energetic volunteer in no small number of cool ICT 4 development projects.