My Trip Around San Francisco by Ngowari Diminas

Ngowari Diminas

I was excited when my close friend told me she was planning a destination wedding with me being the maid of honor and got super excited
when I realized it was Napa Valley, California. Even though I worked in Bakersfield, California for 9 months several years back, I never got the opportunity to visit San Francisco because it was quite a distance by road.

I am currently a Project Engineer with my experience focused in the Oil & Gas (O&G) Industry, and I’m particularly interested in seeing or being part of the technology industry that will specialize in the utilization of various apps to solve major O&G problems. I am also the founder of CAFEW – Connecting All Female Engineers Worldwide (CAFEW facebook page CAFEW Blog)

Facebook Social Tour

In recent years, I have actively been involved in various forums, events and networking online and in-person and luckily I was invited by Sharon D. Fiberesima (of Coral lifestyle Magazine) into the Women Tech Founders WhatsApp group, which was created to plan the Women Tech Founders Meetup. As a result, I participated as a speaker in the WTF Meetup Of 2017 Startup Port Harcourt Week with Theme “From Oil to Tech: Connecting the Dots to the New Industrial Era”, which was successful.

This WhatsApp group is awesome because we used it as a platform to organize and share information. I am glad to be in touch with Uzo Ofoma; Pearl Oguchi; Eniola Mafe; Sharon Fiberesima and Ese Emerhi.

I told the group about my plans to travel and mentioned to Pearl that I would like to get access into facebook for a tour and she immediately responded that she will let me know and asked for the date. I just moved on with making my plans and praying it worked out really good. 

Two weeks to my departure date, I was a bit worried that I had not heard anything regarding the tour but simply prayed for safe arrival to see the outside part …lol… and take pictures. Guess what??? I got a message from Pearl two days before departure with information on a volunteer to give me a tour. I was happy!!! I could not believe that someone who I have not met physically could help out. This is a clear example of a female encouraging another female.

I got an email from our volunteer social tour host and he is a Nigerian. I felt so much joy in my heart because seeing fellow Nigerians doing well abroad is wonderful especially with so many challenges that
come with settling down successfully.

Ngowari Diminas

As soon as I arrived San Francisco, I immediately realized I was in a huge city. The airport was extremely busy. I was waiting for my bag and thought to buy water from the vending machine and it was $3.50
…Oh dear!!! That is the price of a case of 35 bottles of water in Texas.

It was certain I just got into an expensive town so I decided to respect myself. I drove through San Francisco City filled with steel hills, well-designed bridges, high rise buildings and other beautiful architectural buildings with so much joy in my heart.

On that lovely sunny Thursday morning I picked my friends from the San Francisco airport and we headed straight for the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto.

The first thing I noticed about this campus-setting office from the outside was the different colorful buildings, controlled security, organized valet stands at strategic locations around the parking lot, and so
many well parked vehicles and bikes.

I drove to the valet, asked if I could pay for parking and was told nicely that valet parking was for business tour, meetings or top government officials or celebrities. My friends and I just laughed at ourselves pretty hard.

As I rolled up my window and tried to think fast how to turn around, the guy beckoned on me to roll down. He asked to see my appointment confirmation which I did quickly. He just smiled and issued a pink valet ticket and then asked a different guy to take the keys. I felt like a celebrity too….hahaha!

It started to dawn on me that I am actually going to get inside. This may not be huge to some people but it is for me considering that I run a facebook group. Just seeing where they ensure this platform works 24/7 without issues is absolutely amazing.

We checked in and waited patiently for tour guide host, Isaac Nwokocha. He met us with a smile wondering if we were Nigerians because he was not familiar with our names. The campus buildings and its neat environs were fully packed with people. We went to grab lunch and it was all free for both visitors and employees.

We went to grab lunch and it was all free for both visitors and employees.

I can say that almost everything is free. They have open seating areas all around, research laboratories, boot camp centers, fitness centers, game play stations, enclosed areas to accommodate nursing mothers, all sorts of shops for food and drinks.

The intriguing part is that I could see people having meetings physically and/or remotely even without being distracted with the busy environment.

This campus comprises of security folks, drivers, traffic personnel, admin staff, cooks/kitchen staff, programmers, Engineers, Software developers, Project Managers, IT assistants and so many other roles too numerous to mention. The operational cost of this campus must be very massive.
After going round the older part of the campus, we stopped by the “sweet shop” to get some ice-cream which is also free by the way.

We got to the newer office spaces where the CEO’s office is also located. It would have been nice to see the CEO…I am hopeful for that though… It is an open space style area and we walked back and forth without the employees even bothered about visitors.

I noticed the smiling faces of these employees and it is very clear that once you take good care of your employees, they have no reason not to do their work.

The welcoming presence of artwork integrated with science around these work spaces brings life and happiness.

I got the chance to write on the wall because I am hopeful that I will “StayFocused”; “IgnoreTheBackgroundNoise”; and ”CAFEW” will also achieve its vision one day. Visiting such places not only encourages you, it makes you see clearly that many people are working so hard to solve problems and create avenues for comfort. This is the model of the Menlo Park Campus property. The day ended with stopping at the popular Facebook signpost to take a picture.

Lessons Learned:

VISION​ – Having that vision way ahead while working hard systematically towards its fruition with skilled people and teamwork is imperative.
FLEXIBLE​ – Employers that understand the needs of their employees and provide that good level of flexibility to accommodate those needs increase the chances of their staff adding more value while performing tasks.
DIVERSITY ​– The campus environment was filled with males and females from different parts of the world which brings a distinctive brilliance and comfort into the system.

Stanford University Tour

Stanford University and MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology are my top two lists of schools to attend in the future. I have read so much about these prestigious schools and generally console myself with the thoughts of just seeing it.

I was lucky enough to have my friend Esuru Okorafor give me a tour. She described her experience so far and this made me thirsty for more Education.

This is also a bike friendly campus with the school bus transportation free for everyone within the facility. Larry page and Sergey Brin are the founders of Google and they were Ph.D students then in 1988 at Stanford University. David Packard and William Hewlett are the founders of Hewlett-Packard and also attended this prestigious institution.

This is the entrance to one of my dream departments…lol… Yes, I know I dream a lot but this has to come true. I sincerely wish everyone out there with dreams the best.

It takes planning, consistent hard work and focus to achieve many goals. I hope this experience also goes a long way to make others see the beauty of San Francisco. It is important to seize the opportunity to learn how to be social and professional at the same time.

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