Women in Tech @ Namshi: Ming Hu

Here at Namshi we have quite a bit of a diverse team but, like many companies out there, struggle with the gender gap in tech.

We, though, would like to share the story and advices from the women who are part of our team, with the hope that they’ll inspire others to join us, or to simply give computer science, or programming in general, a go.

Without further ado, let me introduce Ming, who:

…holds a B.S. in Computer Science from NYU Abu Dhabi. She has been passionate about building robust web and mobile applications since college. She loves writing clean and effective code and building reliable and robust system. She joined Namshi’s back-end team in early 2018 and is excited to learn new skills and solve new challenges. Her technical skills include Python, Java, Javascript, HTML, CSS, Heroku, Node and more. In her free time, Ming can be found checking out technical blogs, reading about blockchain or baking apple pies.

Can you briefly tell us a bit about yourself?

After realizing that I will not make it to the Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show (I wasn’t close), I spent years studying at a college in Abu Dhabi until I discovered my interest: working on tech solutions. So it is no surprise that I joined Namshi recently as a junior software engineer, building infrastructure tools as well as customer-facing apps. I have been a perfectionist coder and I always want my work to be impeccable. Outside work, I enjoy traveling the world, playing Nintendo Switch and eating my way through the places I visit.

How did you get into programming & computer science?

I went to a few programming workshops out of curiosity when I was in high school in China. Back then not many people were into programming, so there were usually just three or four of us sitting in the workshops. It was probably around 2012, and I remembered learning about queues, stacks, Pascal’s triangles and some idiosyncratic algorithms. Everything was just really fascinating to me. So I started writing tiny pieces of code in Pascal (yep Pascal), but the coding activity didn’t really continue.

Later I entered college and I wanted to be a civil engineer and build bridges for the people. Yet it turned out I absolutely hated the mundane and complicated courses. So after a week in college, I dropped all my engineering courses and went for computer science instead. I loved it so much more, and that’s how it all started.

What does your typical day at work look like?

My work at Namshi is very exciting every day! I go to office around 10 AM and start by prioritizing my tasks of the day on Jira or Trello board. I always talk to my teammates at the start of the day to ask for their feedback or opinions on my tasks and solutions. I like working closely with the senior members (usually with Joe or Ala), and learning new knowledge and skills from them every day. I also like singling out some big chunks of time to write code without distraction by myself. When I’m not coding, I can be find reading HackerNoon, waiting for a latte in the pantry, or just checking out what the other teams are working on.

What is the most challenging project you worked on? The one that made you the proudest?

The most challenging project at Namshi so far is the Apple Pay Integration on web. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to take so much time and effort for this payment integration. When I started working on it, I realized that Apple has really horrible documentation and every piece of information needs some effort to gather. I’m really proud we made it to work in the end.

Outside Namshi, I also worked on a human digital chatbot in college. You can check out my project video here. It was published in ACL, presented in Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center and selected for SIGDIAL conference in Australia. I was really proud of it.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?

I love a quote by Nelson Mandela: It always seems impossible until it’s done. I think the advice from me would be to be brave, try new things and believe in the impossibilities. Coding is a very intellectual activity and I believe everyone can learn to do it, no matter male or female, old or young.

If I could start over, I wish I was more engaged with finding or building a developer community in the UAE. It is always fun to work with people on projects that have real-life impacts.

Thanks Ming — both for sharing your experience and keeping the Namshi backends under control! :)