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Interview with Dr. Mojisola Erdt

Dr. Mojisola Erdt, IT Researcher

1) Please introduce yourself and tell us your name, country of origin, profession and hobbies.
My name is Dr. Mojisola Helen Erdt (née Anjorin). I was born in Nigeria, I grew up there and came to Germany to study. I have a dual citizenship, as my father is Nigerian and my mother German.
I am a computer scientist and researcher. My research interests lie in the area of the Social Web - I feel very fortunate to have experienced how the Internet has revolutionized and continues to impact our daily lives. In my free time, I love reading books that combine historical facts with fiction. I enjoy swimming, yoga and simply being with family and friends.

2) What was your academic cycle?
After completing my secondary school education in 1997 at the Abeokuta Girls’ Grammar School in Nigeria, I relocated to Germany to study computer science. After my studies at the Technische Universität in Darmstadt in 2006, I worked as a Business/ Functional Analyst at the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. I returned to the TU Darmstadt in 2010 as a researcher at the Multimedia Communications lab (KOM). I received a PhD degree in Information Technology in 2014. I am presently an adjunct senior scientist at KOM.

3) How long have you been living in Germany and why did you decide to live in Germany?
I have been living in Germany since April 1998. I moved to Germany to study because in that time the universities in Nigeria were constantly being closed due to strikes and political unrest. I decided to live in Germany as my mother’s side of the family live in Germany and family for me is very important. Germany offers a very sound university education in the technical field and university education is still free in most states.

4) How long have you been working in your profession in Germany? Why did you decide to work in your profession in Germany?
I worked for nearly 4 years at the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt and afterwards for another 4 years as a scientific researcher at the TU Darmstadt. The Deutsche Bank offered me a very international setting where my skills as a technical employee with an international background were appreciated. Universities in Germany have also become very international and offer researchers exposure to cutting-edge technologies, innovative projects and global partners.

5) Have you ever thought of returning to Africa to pursue your career there after your studies? What experience have you made?
My family is centered in Germany and this is the main reason why I have decided to stay in Germany. During conferences I have been fortunate to meet several excellent female researchers from Africa and I am impressed with the progress African universities are making in the area of research.

6) Are you involved in community projects that benefit the African diaspora or African communities? Please describe them?
I am a member of Mapubi e.V. and we have been working on several projects in Africa.

7) What was your motivation before starting?
There are unfortunately few role models for women especially in technical fields and we have the responsibility to motivate the youth to aspire to achieve greater goals.

8) What experience did you make and what was your best experience?
I am always glad when I get to know young women who are motivated to dare to want more. I find it very fulfilling if I can encourage them on their journey.

9) How does your project affect the youth and women in your community?
Studying in a male dominated field (such as in IT) it can be very lonely and frustrating as a young woman and we let small disappointments discourage us much too often. This is why it is crucial to have mentors to encourage the youth, and in particular women, to keep on giving their best, even when it is hard.

10) What opportunities do you see for African women and youths studying in your field in Germany?
Germany offers a unique opportunity to become an expert in your field. You cannot go through the educational system in Germany without the experience transforming you to become more responsible, dedicated, thorough, precise and hard-working. When you try to give your best, the system tells you that was not yet all you have to give – and when you finally do give your very best, the reward is very satisfying.

11) What advice would you give women or youth willing to study or pursue a professional career in your field in Germany?
Reach for the sky – there are so many possibilities to work in international firms that appreciate the added value of having an employee with an international background and speaking several languages. Simply having made it in a new educational system shows an excellent set of skills for adapting, learning fast and being flexible. These skills are the basis for a successful professional career anywhere in the world.





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