I got to know Miranda through two friends on LinkedIn; Henrica Makulu and Tatenda Emma Matika. I greatly admire her confidence in Data Analytics. Here is our interview about her STEM journey:
Hi Miranda, thank you for joining us today
Hello Winnie, my pleasure! It’s always good linking up with fellow professionals. And, it is my honour to be featured among these wonderful women in STEM.
What is your full name?
My name is Tapiwanashe Miranda Chidemo (I was born Sanyanga).
What is your current occupation?
I am currently an Artificial Intelligence Research Scientist who specialises in Big Data. I work at the Zimbabwe Centre of High Performance Computing. I also own a Vehicle Tracking Company called O’Track which focuses on Vehicle Security and Fuel Monitoring for both vehicle fuel tanks and depot tanks. I have a strong passion for academic writing and that has driven me to offer Research Consultancy Services from Undergraduate Level scaling up to PhD Level, offering assistance from assignments, dissertations, journals and any other passionate articles.
Now you understand why I said I admire your confidence, haha
Please tell us; how did you join the Artificial Intelligence world?
I was raised as a single child by a single mom, my dad passed away when I was very young. This meant that growing up I was supposed to have a very small family, but no, the opposite is in every way correct. My family is closely packed with many cousins, so we grew up forever in each other’s faces, haha. I had all the experience there is to have with siblings. I am now married to a wonderful husband and we have a gorgeous little girl (so far, more are coming), but yet again, our family is bigger than just the three of us.
I have always enjoyed learning and been so inquisitive and eager to learn new things. I attended Hermann Gmeiner Primary School and completed in six years by skipping a grade. I did my High School at ZRP High School and by the time I completed, I was certain I wanted to be an Architect. This unfortunately (or fortunately) did not happen for me. I worked as a Cashier in a cell phone retail shop for slightly over a year. One day my sister came to see me at work and “forced” me to apply (God bless her soul) to a local university as she was also applying there. Seeing that I was forced, I blindly filled in the form and gave her the papers to submit on my behalf.
A few weeks later the university called, notifying me that I had gotten the place and I was eligible for all the 3 programs I had listed down. I had to decide which specific one I wanted. So remember I blindly filled the form, haha, I no longer had the memory of what programs I had listed. The lady on the phone was kind enough to read out my chosen programs and out of those three, the easiest one for me to say (or repeat after her) was I.T. That is how I got knocked into this life.
Four years later, I completed my degree Cum Laude so I bet I knew what I was doing when I picked it, hahaha. I was selected for a 3-week program in China by Huawei, and shortly upon return I got a job as a Systems Analyst. I attribute a lot of my growth to this opportunity. I worked with Banks, Stock Exchange Entities and Microfinance Institutions. It was during this time that I realised my love for Big Data (I just did not know it was called Big Data at the moment). I then decided to do research on that. My former university was also looking for a research person in a similar field. Our interest coincided and just like that, my path changed. I became a full time Masters of Philosophy student, studying how best to merge Big Data and the Zimbabwean Economy. I had really great supervisors and mentors on that journey, and enough mention cannot be given to Dr. Panashe Chiurunge and Mr. Tatenda Duncan Kavu for all the assistance they gave me as I opened the doors of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.
While I was a student I was also working as a Teaching Assistant then later as a Lecturer in courses like Machine Learning, Python Programming, Neural Networks Web Mining and Operations Research, for both Undergraduate and Masters Students.
When I completed my studies, I continued as a Lecturer for a while until the opportunity with Zimbabwe Centre of High Performance Computing (ZCHPC) arose. ZCHPC offers Super Computing Resources and allows vast computing capabilities. The most interesting part is that I continually get to work with a lot of great people on various projects. This opportunity really is eye opening as I get to learn everyday on the capabilities of Super Computing. People, both individuals and organizations are welcome to use ZCHPC for their projects or day to day runnings, and don’t scare away too quick, the services are FREE – yep. We also get to meet and network.
What have you found inspiring and challenging along this journey called life?
I’m inspired by growth, I love growth, I love seeing people, organizations, careers, and domains grow. Personally I’m driven by completion and achieving. I grew up seeing my mom, regardless of the many challenges she faced, being one woman who completed and achieved.
What I have found challenging, especially as a woman, are the expectations we face, be it from society, family or colleagues. As women, we are expected to be a good employee, a good mom, a good wife, a good daughter, a good daughter-in-law, and the list goes on and on. All these roles and others are extra demanding yet we are expected to be exceptional in all of them, and still have a smile on your face. You are expected to do well, but not too well, don’t vent when you are angry or betrayed, you are needed at home when your child is sick but also needed in the office to perform. Such societal blueprints are exhausting and the judgement you receive regardless of what you do is unnecessary.
We would love to celebrate with you; what are some of your achievements & awards?
- Book Prices during my Undergrad. This is an award given to the best student during their semester, like top of the class at the end of a semester.
- Vice Chancellor’s Award and Scholarship
- 2nd place in a Data Analytics Women Contest
- I also have 2 publications out; Economic Pattern Prediction based on PESTEL Factors, A Case of Zimbabwe published on November 1, 2020 and Searching Objects in a Video Footage published on Jun 1, 2019.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I appreciate having loved ones around and I value time spent. Activities can vary from a chilled afternoon, a day out watching or playing sport (basketball to be precise) or a night of fun.
What is your favourite quote?
I have two actually, “What God won’t do, let it remain undone” ~ Dr. David Oyedepo. The second one is in my native language “Chinouya chinoona ini.” (Meaning I will be liable for my actions).
How do you encourage a young girl in STEM?
You have a dream, you have a vision, start now, start small and don’t stop. Do it today, do it tomorrow, do it again the day after, just don’t stop.
Thank you, Miranda! It has been a great honour to write part of your story. Thank you for the consideration.