The worldwide celebration of nerdom is upon us! So, in light of Geek Pride Day on 25 May, we sat down with our favourite highbrow, Victor Tsangu, to probe him on his journey to the top. Hailing from a small town in Zimbabwe, Victor shares his story of defying the odds to become Senior Consultant: Microsoft Dynamics NAV for Braintree by Vox – despite only being exposed to his first computer at 18.
You’re a busy man so we appreciate you taking the time, Victor. Can you tell the readers a bit more about what you do?
Well, I play a dual-role here at Braintree. On one hand I’m a senior Microsoft Dynamics NAV consultant (a technical consultant) who tests technology before anyone else can. Basically, I look at the offering, capabilities, issues and how to implement that said-technology and on the other hand, I’m also a general implementations consultant for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NAV. In this regard, I help implement these ERP and CRM solutions, train the relevant users, and offer support to our clients.
How did you end up choosing this career path?
I went to school in Gweru – a small town in the Zimbabwean midlands. My parents tried to protect us from being exposed to the city at such a young age which I am very grateful for as it taught me to be grounded.
It wasn’t until after high school that I realised what my calling would be when I went for career guidance, and was encouraged to study IT. I liked the idea that it was a transferrable skill that would enable me to work in any industry, so I went on to study Information Systems. During my final year, I joined a Microsoft Partner as an intern, and they helped me to pay for my final year.
I then took up a job with them but due to the political and socio-economic state of Zim at the time, I didn’t earn a salary for two years. I still needed to pay rent and find a way to put food on the table so, on weekends, I would do some part-time work for some of my dad’s friends to pay the bills.
It got to a point where I could no longer sow where I was not reaping, and that’s when I started looking for opportunities in South Africa – and here I am.
Why did you choose South Africa specifically?
In South Africa I could build a solid foundation. I know it’s not perfect here, but there are so many opportunities all around us. I also loved that it’s close to Zim and it’s filled with diverse cultures which allows me to live the life I choose to live.
It sounds like you’ve defied all odds to get here which is very inspiring to the youth of Southern Africa. What advice would you give them?
I was only exposed to my first computer at the age of 18 and I believe that if I had been exposed to computers at an earlier age, I would have achieved more than I have now. So, I would encourage the next generation to use technology to their advantage – take the time to expand their knowledge.
Be prepared for the knowledge gap between what you studied in school and what you do in practice. Don’t expect to be spoon-fed – you need to take initiative and learn on your own. Hang out with a senior consultant and learn the ropes from them. Be prepared to get it wrong sometimes – and be prepared to get shouted at for doing so. But it’s also these lessons that will teach you to up your game and learn.
Lastly, be willing to learn and take risks. Put up your hard and take on more responsibility – even if it means you might fail.
From what you’ve said, it sounds like you’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way – which one has been the hardest that life has taught you?
Sometimes in life, you’re going to be dropped into the fire without the knowledge and expertise to get yourself out of the situation – and you’re going to get burned. But it’s important that we learn from those situations, pick ourselves up out of the ashes, and propel ourselves forward. For me, getting burned like this made me upskill myself.
What has been your greatest career highlight so far?
I’m living my highlight right now. I’ve been given the opportunity to learn and grow, I’ve been given access to platforms like the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) to test my knowledge, practice, solve problems, and perfect my skills – it has pushed me in a different direction and has grown me exponentially.
Times are certainly changing. What do you love most about your job?
I love that I’m challenged every day. My job is all about problem-solving – something that drives and fulfils me. It requires me to put my knowledge and skills together to identify a problem and its solution.
Ironically, this can also be the most frustrating part of my job because I’m the go-to guy when everyone has an issue. But I find it exciting and, as time goes on, I get better at it.
Talk about living on the edge. So, if someone wanted to follow in your footsteps, what would your advice to them be?
I would suggest that they start off with a solid foundation – go study Information Systems, Computer Science, and any other computer-related course. To do this job you will also need a passion for technology. You need to keep abreast with what is happening in this space and identify how these new advancements will be useful to your business. In this field, laziness isn’t an option – and you need to love problem solving, too.
Lastly, if you could go back in time and impart some wisdom with young Victor, what you say to yourself?
Keep working hard for the things you want – you’re doing a great job. But also look around you, look for those opportunities where you can work smarter, and still get what you want.