Queen Mary Alumni

Gloriose Hitimana - alumni profile

I believe we need more of a cultural representation of African people in techbolgoy sector. This work leans on those of African-heritage themselves to collaborate to represent on the world stage I know and trust they can do.

(Artificial Intelligence MSc, 2020)

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What did you enjoy most about studying MSc Artificial Intelligence at Queen Mary?

Learning. I was there to learn, and I am so happy that I got the opportunity to do so. The environment was also a very relaxing one to learn in.

What was special about your time at Queen Mary?

I did not get the chance to be involved in extracurricular activities as the nature of my course was intense and I was also working part-time. But I most enjoyed the people I got to work with on different projects throughout the programme; they made the journey much more pleasant and easier to navigate.

Please describe your career path since graduating from Queen Mary.

Prior to my MSc in Artificial Intelligence at Queen Mary, I was working as a data science engineer. My aim going through the master's programme was to build on my knowledge in AI so that I could contribute more to my team. Post-graduation, I have continued to work as a data science engineer. However, during the pandemic, I have realised how important my community is to me. No matter how well I succeed at work, it is not Home, and I want to take care of and be more involved in my community. Hence, I have been dedicating more of my time to my community as a volunteer and this has given me a great sense of purpose.

What are your plans for the future? What would you love to accomplish?

I have always been passionate about the use of technology to help and empower smaller and interconnected communities. More specifically, how to make a community more tech-enabled.

Smaller communities may have overlapping features, but many have unique characteristics. So, I have been wondering how we can use AI to provide personalised solutions to help with the day-to-day activities of micro-communities. The only way I can answer this question is by being more involved in the running of my own community. Much of the work I have done in this respect so far leans more on support and administration and how to automate these for a community, where the frequency of change is of a higher level than in a company, with much more immediate impact. 

As a technology enthusiast, why are you so passionate about tech and why would you encourage more people to pursue a career in the tech industry?

My original pursuit in Mathematics led me to technology. My understanding of technology was simply mathematics applied. I could trace everything learned in tech back to some logic I had learned in math. I also really enjoyed how technology has a wide range of applications in various industries. Whether that is in the field of arts and music, healthcare, or finance etc.

For those interested in technology, I would simply say technology is a tool. How you use technology is the most important factor as this will drive innovation and solutions in society and communities. So, for those in healthcare, artists, writers, community leaders, housewives etc, technology is a tool that can help enhance the work you do. So do not be afraid to embrace it, connect with others in the same sector as you, innovate and create.

The ordinary people throughout history deserve recognition alongside the more well-known Black historical figures – all the mothers and the fathers who fought for us.

What has your experience of the tech industry been like as a woman of African heritage?

I am thankful that I have not personally experienced any negative discrimination as an African woman in the field of technology. I am fortunate to have had colleagues, managers, CEOs and CTOs who believed in me and gave me a chance to simply work. They gave me a chance when I did not have much to prove, and their simple actions boosted my confidence with the desire to learn more.

However, so far in my career I have identified a low representation of those of African heritage in the field of technology. There are many overlapping reasons for such, but I believe much is connected to our communities. Hence my desire and focus to empower the next generations who are closer to me, that is, those who are in my community.

What is your opinion on the different diversity and inclusion strategies being introduced into workplaces? Ethically one could argue that there is a need for such initiatives to actively tackle racism and other forms of discrimination, but in practice how effective have you found them?

Racism and discrimination are human issues, more specifically pride, where one finds self-worth and identity through comparison for a plethora of possible reasons. Many laws and incentive programmes can be put in place to help the symptoms of this issue, but they will still not fix the root cause, i.e., to see and value other human beings as one views and values oneself. In my opinion, while many of these diversity and inclusion programmes aim to do good, they still stem from a “knight syndrome” mentality. If it was not for current trends, cancel culture, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), or the bottom-line, would these companies still be as proactive as they try to be now?

From a representation or hiring perspective, I think diversity and inclusion programmes are slightly open doors which only allow a trickle of minorities at a time to filter through into a specific sector. But I believe we need more of a cultural presence and representation of African people in the workplace and in every sector/industry. I believe to achieve this, much more of the work will lean on people of African-heritage to prepare to represent as a collective on the world stage, just as they have started to do so in the sector of music and entertainment. 

In your opinion, what do you think needs to be done to bring about greater equality and racial justice to the Black community?

In my opinion, the impacts of slavery have gone so deep – to the very structure of our homes and our communities. Racial justice includes reparation to even the finest detail of our daily lives, which are our homes. I believe restoration on these lines is needed to truly see the full potential of Black people and how they can contribute to the world as much as others.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

I am African every day. Not just one month per year. 

Are there any Black historical figures you wish more people knew about?

The ordinary people throughout history deserve recognition alongside the more well-known Black historical figures – all the mothers and the fathers who fought for us.

This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Officer, Nicole Brownfield. If you would like to get in touch with Gloriose or engage her in your work, please contact Nicole at n.brownfield@qmul.ac.uk