Sayo is the first winner in the iROKOtv developer challenge that iROKOtv’s CEO, Jason Njoku announced one month ago. We were all surprised when the first winner was announced and turns out not to be one of the coding ninjas at Yabacon Valley (forgive me).

We caught up with Sayo to talk about the test, his winnings – a million cool ones -, his take on the on-going debate about developers pay in Nigeria and the fact that he is going to miss lunch again today.

TechCabal: Hi Sayo, congratulations on winning the iROKOtv developer challenge again. Sensational stuff.

Sayo: Thanks a lot, I really appreciate that.

No one really thought the first winner would be from outside of Lagos.

Except me. I was sure the winner wouldn’t emerge from Lagos.

How do you feel about all these?

Not surprised really. I knew the quality Ife had so I was sure that the winner was going to be from Ife or an Ife product in Lagos.

Give us a little background, please? Who is Sayo?

Sayo Oladeji. Co-founder, Hextremelabs LTD (a software engineering firm). Software Engineer, UCI Tech / Crown Interactive. Christian. Started seriously using the computer in 2005 (Windows 98 to XP). Started programming in 2007 (QBasic). Still plays brick game a lot. Indoor guy. Not a geek.

You are an OAU alumni, there has been a lot of chest-thumping lately about OAU producing the best developers. Do you think OAU prepared you for this? If so, how so?

The quality of OAU products is not from the faculty neither is it from the classrooms. The quality is from the dev community that we have built. So back to your question: no, OAU (the institution and curriculum) did not prepare me, but OAU (the dev community) did.

About this test. You mentioned in an earlier interview that the test was actually quite easy. What would a harder test have been like?

Something like IEEE Xtreme.

Editor’s note: IEEEXtreme is the global challenge where IEEE member students compete in a 24-hour time span against each other to solve programming problems.

So, are you going to take the iROKOtv position and have you thought about what you are going to do with the money?

sayo with Bash and Ada

That would be a discussion between iROKO’s recruiters and I. For the sake of privacy, I’d rather keep the details confidential. [The money.] Invest in tools and services that will make me work more efficiently, then enjoy the rest. The gratification is much needed

I would really you to pitch in on the ongoing debate about how much developers earn in Nigeria. The popular opinion is that developers are underpaid. What do you think?

You can’t compare things here with Silicon Valley. The economy there is different. Cost of living is different. Amount of funding that startups have are different. The quality of what the engineers are capable of delivering are different.

When you say that “developers are underpaid” I would ask relative to who? Their counterparts in Silicon Valley? Other professions in Nigeria?


Sayo’s team at Hextremelabs

That aside, please tell me three professions in Nigeria where their fresh graduates earn more than software engineers. I don’t think the correct statement is “developers are underpaid” but rather “workers are generally underpaid in Nigeria.”

What’s your typical day like?

During work days:

Wake up >> Pray >> Gym >> Attend to emails >> Eat >> Sync with my colleagues >> Work >> Attend to emails >> Attend a meeting >> Surf the internet >> Remember that I have skipped lunch >> Scramble around to find something to eat >> Surf the internet >> Sleep >> Rinse repeat.

What projects are you working on right now?

Most of the projects on my table are proprietary (they belong to some other parties) so I wouldn’t be able to share details. They are definitely interesting enterprise projects and I wish I could share more details but I’ll like to protect the privacy of our clients.

What’s an internet resource that you find helpful that you can recommend to other developers?

Google. I Google a LOT of stuff. Only God knows the number of queries I make per day. Then Google leads me to StackOverflow.

Thank you for speaking with us Sayo.

You’re welcome. I’m glad.

Editor’s note: Sayo Oladeji is the first developer-millionaire in the iROKOtv’s developer challenge. He scored 324 out of possible 400 in the Codility Test. He is the CEO of Hextremelabs, a software engineering firm based in Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.

Gbenga Onalaja Author

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