Vivian Omondi graduated from the School of Information with a master’s in information management and systems in 2022. Prior to the I School, she received her bachelor’s in computer science from the University of Nairobi and worked at Google and Creditation, a fintech startup in Kenya building APIs to empower startups to be lenders. She now serves as product manager at WePay, a J.P. Morgan Chase company, and works with engineers and designers to build better product experiences for SMB merchants on Chase Integrated Payments.
Why did you choose the I School?
I chose the I School because of its multidisciplinary aspect. Although my focus was product management, I was curious about product design, UX research, data science, and information systems as a whole. Hence, I School was a perfect choice.
What was your favorite thing about the I School?
I loved how multidisciplinary the I School was. I got an opportunity to take very diverse courses from different disciplines including software engineering, data science, design, and UX, which shaped my thoughts and appreciation for all these fields. I also loved the focus on learning about the issues in information technology that I found very insightful and continues to shape how I think about tech solutions. And of course, the community, which is very tight and has amazing people from diverse backgrounds; every interaction was a learning opportunity.
What was your favorite class?
I had so many favorite classes at I School. It’s hard to pick one but my top three would be Behavioral Economics, Tangible User Interfaces, and Management in Information-Intensive Companies. I also enjoyed a self-study group on web accessibility.
You’re currently a product manager at WePay. What compels you to work in product management, or in fintech?
Product management is at the intersection of most fields in tech, hence you get an opportunity to work and learn from different people including designers, engineers, business stakeholders, legal etc. I find it very interesting as I’m always learning and growing. No day is the same. And working at a fintech means I not only need to understand tech, but also learn about innovative payment solutions, hence keeping me creative and constantly learning.
You’re a Berkeley Mastercard Foundation Scholar. How has the scholarship played a role in your success?
I was privileged to be a recipient of the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship, a program for grad students from Africa at Berkeley. The program not only provides funding but also focuses on leadership and entrepreneurship, helping us think about solving problems that are unique to the continent. It was also a great opportunity to network with other students from across Africa. This formed a big part of the community that I had while at Berkeley.
What advice would you give your past self as an I School student?
I would tell her time flies. Two years is a very short time; therefore make use of every opportunity in grad school including networking, joining clubs for causes you care about, attending more events, applying for travel grants, and being more active. I was there during the pandemic so I may have missed some of those opportunities. I School and Berkeley have a lot to offer other than the school work; therefore be more open-minded to explore all the opportunities available.