Briefly, tell us about your background and career up to this point?
I was born and raised in the Gambia. From an early age, I was passionate about technology – that's how I found myself helping individuals who were privileged enough to own a PC in my neighbourhood, solving their hardware and software issues.
From 2012 to 2015, I did a BSc in Business Information Technology at the University of Greenwich. Afterwards, I went back to the Gambia and worked as a freelancer at a Swedish internet company, before relocating to Guinea-Bissau (my ancestral home). I worked with the World Bank to help the Bissau government digitize the operations of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works. At this point, I decided to invest my earnings to pursue a postgraduate degree in Information Systems Management with the University of Liverpool.
In early 2017, I moved back to the Gambia to work at Standard Chartered bank. After just 6 months, I decided to leave for the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MRC@LSHTM) to begin my career in research, which I'm now continuing at King's.
What do you think people in the School would find most surprising about you?
That I love food. And I am a cook: cooking is one thing I love doing. It's my passion.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Not everyone you start a journey with will be there at the end, so be courageous and ride through the journey alone. Or be the one to end the journey, for there could be a valid reason to back off.
Do you have any current projects that you’d like to tell us about?
At the beginning of 2021, I officially started the Tom Empowering and Mentoring Project (TEMP). The project provides mentoring to young people in my country-of-origin the Gambia. The impact that TEMP has on people’s lives always gives me a great feeling of accomplishment.
I consider myself lucky when compared to many young Gambians who live without hope for their future. Unfortunately, many of them risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, looking for a better life.
Being an inspiration to Gambians my age urges me to go beyond the limit and give them hope through my work.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Fulfilling my dream of working in research, by applying data science and machine learning at a higher level to contribute to the success of King's.
One of my ultimate big-time dreams is to pursue a PhD and become a lecturer at the University of the Gambia. I want to see a better future, especially in Africa.
What do you do with your time outside academia/work?
Exercise by taking long walks, spending my spare time with loved ones. And cooking, of course. As I said before, I love food!
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Helping my mentees to get their dream jobs.
And championing the analytical arm at MRC@LSHTM. I developed the first insights platform that helped data management discover the progress and performance within our unit.
Benachin, known as Jollof in other African countries.
F is for Family.
One thing you could not go a day without