Imma’s Journey: From Designing an Inclusive Assembly Line to Product Management and DEI Advocacy at KONUX

Imma Baradyana, 06.04.2023

Diversity is so important when it comes to innovation. Diversified organizations benefit from manifold perspectives and backgrounds and are producing better, more inclusive products. There’s less group think and employees are more engaged, creating a culture that makes it easier for organizations to attract and retain excellent talent. A magic cycle. But, let’s face it: The tech industry is struggling to become more diverse. While the gender gap is frequently discussed, other dimensions of diversity, equity and inclusion are as important but often forgotten. In this blog article, Imma is sharing how her passion for DEI has shaped her career in product management.

Hey Imma! Please tell us a bit about yourself… Who are you?

I’m a Tanzanian-born product manager with 7 years of experience designing customer centric products. Before KONUX, I worked in fin-tech with clients all over the world including the US, the UK, Italy, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

At a personal level, I have three major passions: books, mountains, and music. I love audiobooks and listen to a book or two a month. I enjoy everything about a good hike – the workout, the scenery, and the view at the top. And for music, well, I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift.

What drives me?
1) Challenges because that’s how we grow, 2) Contribution because we get more by giving more, and 3) Community because alone, we can do so little.

What do you love about working in the tech industry?

Technology is empowering us to tackle and solve the planet’s toughest problems. As a problem solver at heart, I enjoy having a front-row seat to the world’s most glaring problems and love the challenges and endless possibilities that come with working in such a fast-paced industry.

You recently joined KONUX as a Product Manager… What excited you about the role and the company in general?

I prefer to live outside of my comfort zone. In the context of KONUX, it meant leaving my career in fin-tech to work on the hardest problems facing the rail industry. The problem space aside, I also had an amazing candidate experience which gave me a glimpse into the sort of culture I would find here: transparent communication, clear mission and values, and responsive teams.

Can you tell us more about how you got into product management?

Early on in my career, I worked on a social project that needed me to design an assembly line for differently-abled teams. This experience made me realize how much I enjoy building inclusive tech solutions and also sharpened my customer centric approach – a skill that’s crucial when developing successful products. It is also here where my passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace came to life.

What about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) matters most to you?

DEI holds immense value to me as it fosters an environment of empathy and understanding among individuals from various backgrounds. To me, breaking down systemic barriers and promoting intersectional understanding are essential aspects of DEI. As a passionate advocate for these ideals, my ultimate goal is to contribute to creating a society where each person, regardless of their background, feels valued, supported, and empowered to achieve their full potential.

What do you think is the biggest mistake companies make when it comes to DEI?

The biggest mistake companies make when it comes to DEI is assuming the status quo works for all. For me, DEI is about being open to other’s ideas, experiences, and thoughts and valuing those perspectives. When in doubt, ask. For example: If you don’t know how to support a muslim team member during Ramadan – ask, if you have a neurodiverse colleague in your team – ask them what you can do to enable them to bring their unique strengths to the organization, and if you have differently-abled colleagues commuting to the office – ask them whether the office setup works for them and what can be done to make their experience at work seamless. As experts would say, the best case scenario is a setting where discussing DEI is unnecessary and everyone feels organically included.

Why is it fun to work in a diverse setting?

The fun of working in diverse settings lies in the endless possibilities for personal growth and the chance to make meaningful connections with colleagues from different walks of life. It also ensures that varying perspectives are brought to the table which leads to more inclusive innovations. Diverse environments also foster a culture of respect and understanding leading to improved collaboration – all pure fun!

Concluding words for anyone who is not sure if they should pursue a career in tech…

Just do it. Learning by doing is the best way to approach anything. You will never know if tech is the right industry for you by observing from the sidelines.

Fun Facts

Name: Imma Baradyana
Role: Product Manager
Languages spoken: Swahili, German, English, Ha, French (in that order)
Amount of countries lived in: 4
Geeky about: All things fashion. Chocolate is a close second.
Favorite spot in the KONUX office: Blue sofa