Mercy Mahinda, 31

Mechanical Engineer

Safaricom
My Story

Most engineers are known to be introverts but for Mercy, it is the complete reverse. She walks into a room and suddenly her contagious smile and laughter, rub off on everyone.

The firstborn in a family of three has dabbled in acting, modeling but it is in engineering where she has found her niche. As a mechanical engineer, Mercy is the only woman in her department.

At Safaricom, the 31-year-old is tasked with the design for data centre cooling requirements as well as for automated fire suppression systems for the data units across the sites.

This is in addition to ensuring there is effective and efficient utilisation of energy in the spaces to reduce power usage effectiveness.

"“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a civil engineer drawing inspiration from my mother who is a Physics teacher. However, I changed somewhere along the way to mechatronics engineering.”"

“In under three years, working with my colleagues, we managed to phase out R-22, a refrigerant gas harmful to the Ozone layer, in 5,000 air conditioners utilising the gas at Safaricom sites.”

In 2018, she was named Data Cloud Europe Young Engineer of the Year, a recognition for her work in ensuring energy efficiency across Safaricom data centres.

The Kenya High alumnus is a certified energy manager and measurements and verification professional and also an Accredited Tier Designer (ATD).

“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a civil engineer drawing inspiration from my mother who is a Physics teacher. However, I changed somewhere along the way to mechatronics engineering.”

She joined Safaricom as an intern mechanical engineer in 2015 responsible for data centre design for cooling, fire suppression systems, fuel system, and generators before transitioning to her current role.

Safaricom used to take only electrical and telecommunication engineers but in 2015, they decided to give chance to all engineers.

As fate would have it, Mercy applied and the rest is history. She had just graduated top of her class with first-class honours in Mechatronics Engineering from the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology.

“I could say getting the internship was fate. I had done mechatronics engineering but while on the internship, my boss left and I had to transition into mechanical engineering. I find myself in a room full of men as the only mechanical engineer at Safaricom doing what I do.”

But she recognises that her career journey is just starting as her ultimate aspiration is to be at the helm of making policies regarding data centres in Kenya and Africa, saying the field is still at its infancy stage on the continent.

“Knowing that I have not reached where I would want to be, I want to be a living example of how far one can go when they are determined to achieve their target. I come from a small town but I have always aimed higher than my peers. Nothing seems impossible to me.”

She is passionate about energy poverty and how to deal with the problem. This has seen her being involved with the African Women Energy Entrepreneurs Framework, a vehicle by UNEP to empower African women entrepreneurs in the energy sector.

“I would want to see the world reach a point where no child will have not to study because they don’t have access to energy. We want to have decentralised energy so that people in remote areas have access to that energy.”

COLLINS OMULO