Interview by Cayleigh Bright • Photo by Cyril Ncube
As South Africa continues to grow as a valuable emerging market for tech companies around the world, many South African coders at the top of their game find themselves able to take the opportunity to head to foreign shores as authorities on their country as well as experts in their profession. Some go reluctantly to accept salary offers that they can’t refuse or valuable experience, while others leap at the chance, but for Babusi Nyoni, it was simply always part of the plan. In the first in our Where Tech Took Me series, he talks us through his work at Booking.com, his career journey so far, and taking it all in his stride.
CodeSpace: How did your career in coding begin?
Babusi: I started off drawing on anything I could find while growing up in Bulawayo and eventually got into computer-aided graphic design when I worked in a photo studio. In 2013 I worked at your typical hipster web design agency in Woodstock, Cape Town and my foray into development was led mainly by my frustrations in getting my work out the way I wanted it to look. Since then I’ve developed for Web, for WordPress, for Android and iOS and most recently for Artificial Intelligence.
What took you to Amsterdam?
I had always wanted to live in Amsterdam. It was my ultimate goal because I love the city’s vibe and work-life balance. So when a headhunt found its way to my inbox, and that happened to coincide with other personal events, I knew I had to see it through.
What does your job entail from day to day?
Working in New Product Development – Marketing at Booking.com, I lead the product and user experience design of the App Incentives team. I am responsible for the formulation and implementation of product strategies that grow our business unit in emerging markets and accelerate the growth of new Booking.com products.
Did you experience a culture shock, or find anything particularly strange to get used to, when you made your move?
Not really, I am generally unfazed by most things. I think the only thing that still elicits a reaction from me is the smell of weed smoke at my tram stop early in the morning. The idea of someone getting high before work is interesting to me.
What have been some of your career highlights?
The whole thing has been a magical experience. Every year has been my best year.
If you had one piece of advice for someone wanting to follow in your career footsteps, what would it be?
Appreciate your progress and stay humble because there’s always a way to go.
What’s your greatest hope for your industry?
That we get Kanye back.