They often say, “there’s more to a person than what meets the eye.” I had the pleasure to sit down with Jani and realised that this statement couldn’t be more accurate.
Small-town Girl. Big City Dreams.
Born and bred in Boksburg, Jani has always been a small-town girl with big dreams as well as a relentless drive to pursue them. Consequently, her desire to journey out of the Boksburg life she’d always known and take a dive into uncharted waters grew.
Jani being raised in a home where computers were the norm and, in an era, where very few knew how to operate them; ignited a fiery passion for the tech world.
“My dad was a computer programmer. So, for us, computers were normal. We always had friends coming over to play and use our computers.”
After matriculating, she was sure of one thing: she would not settle for something boring. So, off she went to Open Window Institute to study 3D Animation.
With no background knowledge of fine arts, she took the leap at just the right time – when the art and design industry was shifting from pen and paper to the big wide digital screen. While others were completely thrown off, she was in her territory.
Changing the Plan but Not the Goal
While the path wasn't straightforward after graduating, Jani remained steadfast in her pursuit of something that would give her a zest for life.
One day, it finally happened. A classifieds ad that went along the lines of "You get to work on games that are like PlayStation 2" left her wide-eyed and filled with enthusiasm. Of course, holding nothing back, she applied and got the job.
Here Jani was as a fresh graduate, working as a UI Designer for software at a start-up that tasked her to develop an educational toy that would pique kids' interest in the same way a PlayStation did (it had just launched in the South African market).
“I was always in product without knowing that I am in product.”
Fast forward three years later, due to a lack of funding, the company’s doors had to be shut.
Jani found herself back to where she started.
At a time most companies didn’t know they needed a UI Designer for software, looking for a job where her skills in UI would be put to good use was no walk in the park.
An old business partner from her previous employer had just the thing she was looking for – a job position in UI design. In the words of Jani, “That’s when my formal career in UI design officially began.”
Google and the Green Button
The new job presented its own set of opportunities to grow and upskill Jani in the software development space. Like every good thing, it also introduced its own set of challenges.
Challenges that made her Google questions she never thought she’d ever have to Google before.
“One day I walked out of a meeting and Googled: How do you convince developers that an orange button colour should be green?”
Little did she know that the question would change the direction of her career right there and then.
The answer to that question became her new career venture – User Experience design (UX). It became her newfound obsession, and she was unstoppable.
From the City of Gold to the East Coast
After finally discovering her next big move, Jani decided that it was time for a change.
Without second-guessing, she packed her bags to relocate from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg to sunny Durban.
“If I’m going to deal with work. I’d rather do it by the beach.”
Landing a job at the internationally renowned Derivco, a software development company for online games, her growth was on an upward trajectory.
As Jani grew in her career, the paradox of knowledge settled in. As Aristotle famously wrote, “The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.”
Then came more questions.
From a Question to a Change in Direction
Jani started to identify gaps in the tech industry she felt the inclination to fill. Her natural response was to reach out to her developer community.
Once again, she asked a question that led to a change in direction: How do you change the perception of UX in a business?
The answer this time around? To become a product owner.
Not too long after that, she moved from being a UX designer at Derivco to being the first Product Owner at Barrows Global.
Being exposed to and working on big international brands, her skillsets developed further, and the aspiration to upskill small businesses was revealed.
In her opinion, the big companies are well-oiled machines, and she believed that her skillsets would add more value to small businesses finding their feet.
“I really believe that UX is a way to improve products, companies and customer experiences.”
Empowering Small Businesses to Thrive
It wasn’t long before the iKhokha Talent Team spotted all that Jani had to offer, from her fiery passion for tech to her relentless drive to leave a mark.
iKhokha proved to be the perfect place for her to empower South African entrepreneurs. Purpose-driven, she grabbed the opportunity to make an impact on small businesses with both hands.
“What I love about iKhokha is that it’s a business that’s growing to grow other small business.”
Over and above that, Jani takes pride in the team she works with. She believes that iKhokha is a place where you get to work with a group of people who have the same vision as you, there’s no red tape, and whatever you have to contribute as a team member is significant.
Taking a Page Out of Jani's Book
Jani being a value-driven person with high motivation levels, I couldn’t help but ask her to give us the top 3 life values she lives by.
1. Be Comfortable with Not Knowing
If there’s one thing she's has discovered throughout her journey, it’s this: wherever you go, you’ll always have something new to learn.
“The reality is you’ll never walk into something knowing everything there is to know.”
To Jani, it’s all about taking the initiative and asking questions that nobody else is willing to ask. If you don’t understand, continue asking until you do understand.
2. Support Others the Way You Want to Be Supported
Jani doesn’t shy away from giving help, guidance, and mentorship.
The support she’s received from the people around her – from her partner to her mentors – is a true testament that it takes a village to unleash potential.
“I believe that everyone, in some way or the other, is here to pay it forward.”
3. There’s No Time to Waste
“Using your time wisely contributes a massive amount to the person you’ll be tomorrow”, says Jani. When you start to maximise your time, you begin to maximise your skills and broaden your way of thinking.
Even the smallest moments are an opportunity to develop yourself.
“Do the tough things now, so it’s not harder tomorrow.”
We Could Be the Answer to Your Question
Are you wondering what your next move is or which business would be perfect to plug your talents into? The answer is right in front of you.
If you didn’t know, iKhokha is on a mighty mission to seek dynamic and talented people who have the heart to make a difference to join the iK Tribe.
At the end of the day, if you’re going to do work, do it by the beach with a team of incredible, humble, and open people who are charging towards making a significant impact on South African SMEs.
Go ahead and check out our available vacancies. The iK Tribe is waiting. Take a look at our current job opening here.