Founder, CEO, CTO, CVO, Products Manager, Web Developer, and CareerFoundry mentor in Full-Stack development: all job titles which Cairo-based Web Developer Omar Mekky has held. What makes this list of roles particularly astounding in Omar’s case is the fact that he’s not even 30 years old.
Driven by a passion for development, a desire to solve problems, and a love of tech, this ambitious young professional’s résumé is sure to become ever more remarkable as he continues down his career path, launching new products through his development expertise, and helping to launch the tech careers of others through his mentorship with CareerFoundry.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Omar’s career in Web Development, which began at a very early age. His education in development began as an autodidactic endeavor when he was just 13.
“I am a long time social geek. My passion has always been to build stuff, whether software or hardware. I just like to create.”
Spending the majority of his nights as a teenager scouring the internet to learn more about development and to solve the issues he came up against while coding, by the age of 15 Omar built his school’s very first website and began writing and selling his first software. During college he began expanding his skill set to include other coding languages and frameworks, including C#, C++, java, and php.
“When I was around 18, I started working for a local company that built and managed web portals for the entertainment industry in the Middle East.”
Although he was able to pick up some new skills from his first job, on the whole he felt disatisfied with the work he was doing. It was during this time that Omar made the bold decision to go out into the world and, with the support of some friends, start his very own company.
“We started mash, Ltd. which at first went about building custom desktop software and PHP websites for small businesses.” Omar explains. “We kept at it for about 8 months then we decided to invest completely in web development.”
As co-founder and CEO, Omar was also the most experienced developer in the company, making him the head of the development team as well. During this time, Ruby on Rails, a back-end web development framework taught in CareerFoundry’s Full-Stack Web Development Course, started to become popular and mash, Ltd. made the decision to harness this powerful, and now extremely popular framework used by companies like AirBnB, and Hulu.
“...this meant we were one of two companies to provide Ruby on Rails development in Egypt,” says Mekky, a move which eventually landed mash, Ltd. a major contract with Vodaphone Egypt, “to support their rails line of online products in Egypt and South Africa.”
In spite of its success, Omar and his friends were forced to shut down mash, Ltd. in 2013 due to heated political turmoil in Egypt.
From there, Omar moved through a number of companies as CTO, products manager, and developer, and is currently CTO at a startup called UserTalk, which builds cloud based infrastructures for call centers. When he’s not busy there, and mentoring his students at CareerFoundry, he’s working on his side project, CodeTime.tv, an app which will allow programmers to livestream their coding sessions.
From corporate to freelance, Mekky has done it all, but it’s no coincidence he’s spent so much time creating and working for Startups.
“I feel at home in startups,” he says. “They provide discipline and challenge, and just enough appreciation for what you are working on, and you usually join a startup with a product or service that you’d enjoy building.”
As if he didn’t have enough on his plate juggling a fulltime job, and working diligently on CodeTime.tv, Omar has also spent the past year mentoring over 25 of CareerFoundry’s Full-Stack Web Development students. It was the memory of his own challenges and isolation as a young developer that inspired him to become a mentor.
“I was always worried about how other more experienced developers would look at my code and whether or not my way of doing things was good enough for the real world,” said Omar. “So having gone through all of that myself, I wanted to be able to help others with those struggles.”
Of course, for Omar, being a mentor isn’t 100% altruism. There’s also plenty for him to gain by helping others learn web development.
“I enjoy learning,” he elaborates. “Usually when you are teaching someone something, even if you are very experienced with it, you’ll still learn something new.”
From web developer, to CEO and Founder, to CareerFoundry mentor, Omar’s extremely impressive experience has been driven not in small part by an undying passion for development.
“For me programming feels like an art,” says Omar. “Just writing code makes me feel fulfilled.”
Still, there are even greater fruits of his labor to be reaped than the joy of doing what he loves.
“The most rewarding thing is when I receive feedback from end users that my products have helped them solve a problem or made their business easier.”
While there are many benefits to working as a web developer perhaps one of the greatest perks is a stable career with a bright future.
“I don’t see web development going defunct anytime soon,” says Omar. “We have grown very dependant on the internet and on cloud services. Web Development is just the right place to be in the 21st century.”
Nothing worthwhile comes easily, and a fulfilling career in web development is no exception. Luckily for his students, Omar has gone through the same difficulties they face as they take the first steps in their journey to becoming developers, and has a lot of advice and insight to offer.
First and foremost, he recommends his students resist the temptation to fly through the lessons at the expense cementing core concepts.
“Learn the basics and foundation of programming,” he advises. “Those are the constants that you’ll take with you when learning any new programming language or development stack.”
Second, he says, although students have a mentor to guide them through the course, they should make sure they try to debug their code and solve problems alone first before reaching out to their mentor.
“Learn how to search for solutions on the web, whether researching a task or debugging a pesky bug,” warns Omar. “Searching for answers is a must have skill for any programmer.”
Lastly, he urges students to stay focused while studying and programming. Set aside special times just for learning web development.
“Multitasking while programming is very hard,” says Omar, “and is usually a recipe for disaster. So just commit to learning in those times,” and work on nothing else.
The road to a career in development is one strewn with many obstacles, but, as Omar has proven, it is a road that is both navigable and well worth the effort. Of all the benefits of having a mentor while getting started, maybe having such an exemplary model like Omar is the most encouraging. Still, his ambition and excitement about the industry seem to be as boundless as the prospects within the industry itself.
“Virtual Reality is hitting the market this year and I’m very excited to see what developers are going to do with it,” he says.
“It may change how we interact with computers completely and that’s something I’m looking forward to.”
And, on a more personal level, “I’m also a gamer, so the possibilities of virtual reality within the gaming industry are endless!”