Zuby Onwuta is a tech entrepreneur, disability advocate, UN Global speaker, and mentor.
After losing 3 careers: US Army, Medicine and Engineering, to visual impairment, he founded Think and Zoom
with a vision of
"Creating a world,
where visual impairment no longer steals dreams,
Or kills careers."
"Providing affordable and innovative tech solutions
to enable the visually impaired succeed at school and work
and in turn drive down the 70% unemployment rate in the community."
He is an avid customer advocate who uses his knowledge and experience to provide solutions that address customer pain points.
After immigrating to the U.S. in the mid 90s, he enrolled at Triton Community college where he took classes to pursue a medical career and signed up for the Illinois Army National Guard to help pay for college.
He also was a math tutor which is where he honed his teaching and mentoring skills. He excelled academically & achieved the Dean's and President's lists as well as induction into Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.
He became legally blind in 1998, which led to a medical discharge from the U.S. military, and ended his plans to pursue a medical career. After going through a spell of depression due to the setback, he enrolled at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to study Computer Engineering.
He started his software career at UIC, where he was a UNIX Account manager helping clients from incoming freshmen to veteran medical doctors with computer account and Internet configuration issues. This role helped shape his approach toward solving problems.
While at UIC, he was very active in student activities. He was a board member of the National Society of black Engineers (NSBE), member of Professional Engineering Societies Council (PESC) Cofounder & Inaugural President of African Students In Engineering (ASIE)
As an undergrad by attending multiple NSBE Conferences he was able to land 4 consecutive internships; the first 2 with AlcatelLucent and the latter 2 with Goldman Sachs & Co.
Next, he continued developing applications for Goldman Sachs electronic trading system. His flagship product was a software he designed and developed for Goldman Sachs; an automated application that calculated all of the company's global trading activities per day and sent the data via a secure interface to a data storage server. This work earned him a full time offer from Goldman Sachs which he turned down for a position from IBM via its recruitment program called "Project View for People with Disabilities"
He started his IBM career in 2004, but after just 2 years with IBM his vision took an unexpected turn for the worse and he had to go on medical leave.
During his time he enrolled at the Criss Cole School for the blind in Austin, TX, He became a visual impairment disability advocate And became a member of the National Federation of the Blind
He has been on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, with the NFB, speaking to Members of Congress and advocating on laws that affect people who are visually impaired and disabled.
He returned back to IBM and continued working on AIX UNIX Operating System.
His initial roles were a lab manager responsible for maintaining over 300 UNIX servers & Windows clients; Software tester for AIX Fast Connect, a file sharing server
As he gained more skills he moved on to a support role where he resolved critical situation problems for IBM's multimillion dollar premium accounts. Some noteworthy customers have been "Office of the President", NASA, Boeing, Bloomberg to mention a few.
He became IBM's global support lead for the CIFS technology, and in this role, he developed a set training manuals & a curriculum to help the onboard process of other engineers.
His Leadership role expanded as more technologies were added to his list of responsibilities, namely Network File Systems (NFS) and Journal File System (JFS)
He continued to seek ways to improve the global support process for IBM and this led to his creation of a web portal that streamlined the change team support process and unified both the development and delivery of fixes to customers.
Outside of his core responsibilities, for 7 years he has been a global mentor for IBM focusing on African college students and for his work he received a Presidential Volunteer Service Award for STEM mentoring From the Obama Administration
He is a member of the IBM Austin Toastmasters Club and has given many speeches and played multiple leadership roles. He has taken part in multiple parent team activities and to date
He has one Patent:
"Method to Automatically Displaying Content Encoded in
Multiple Code Sets"
And multiple technical
He has been a long time member of the IBM Austin Diversity group and has supported the group in many activities including planning for annual gala and school visits.
As an IBM Africa Deep Dive Session ThinkPlace Catalyst, he was tasked with seeding ideas & engaging SMEs globally for the purpose of identifying challenges and proposing their solutions that will enable IBM expand and be successful in Africa. His idea was one of Four ideas selected and since the exercise IBM has grown from just 4 countries to 22 and expanding.
His latest interest is in mobile technology. He has participated in many hackathon events including DevOn, "Developers Doing Development" where his role was a consultant with knowledge on Africa. The hackathon produced an Ebola app for SMS text based phones & has recently been submitted to the Dangote 2015 health Challenge.
He also participated in the First Diversity Hackathon Organized by SXSW & MVMT50. His role as an Innovator propelled the team to 3rd place with a visual app that was aimed at "putting minority faces in front of minority students" To help minority students challenged by Math. His flagship app is ThinkandZoom, a proof of concept app running on Google Glass that aims to alleviate the sufferings of people with low vision by making seeing as natural as possible. It uses EEG readers that detect and use brain waves to drive visual enhancement.
Using "ThinkandZoom" technology he developed "Kenti," a single user game that earned him a minority scholarship to the coveted Apple WWDC in June 2015. More of his projects is available on the articles page. He also volunteers some time with Knights of Columbus where he is a 4th degree Sir Knight and with the Foundation Fighting Blindness