The JOGO Line-Up with Waqar Muhammad Irfan
Behind every successful company, there is a winning team. At JOGO, this is a passionate bunch with the drive to revolutionize the world of football as a collective. In The Line-Up, we would like to show off the brilliant people behind JOGO. In this week’s edition, our Tech Lead Waqar Muhammad Irfan.
‘Everything can be learned’
Impossible is nothing. It’s not just the famous slogan of German sports brand Adidas, but also the life motto of Waqar. The 36-year old Pakistani developer from the port city of Karachi is the full-time Tech Lead of JOGO since January 2019. Waqar is well-known for his optimistic, can-do attitude. “This approach led me to a lot of opportunities in every aspect of life.”
Waqar learned that nothing in life is impossible in 2004 during the first semester of his Computer Science bachelor study at the University of Karachi. He had an extraordinary professor and his hands-on approach to thank for that. “He told us from the beginning that he wasn’t going to teach us anything, but at the same time would fail all of us if we couldn’t program at the end of his course. At that time, it sounded very harsh, and as a class, we hated him for it, but it motivated us to learn everything by ourselves. Even stuff that we didn’t have to learn that semester.”
“If you know where to look for answers, you don’t have to rely on teachers, materials or courses anymore.”
“Google is from that perspective your best friend and learning buddy. You just need to know what you’re looking for and how to find it”, continues Waqar. “I firmly believe that you don’t even have to pay for courses because there are a lot of blogs, communities and forums available for all kinds of topics. If you know where to look for answers, you don’t have to rely on teachers, materials or courses anymore. After finishing university, I never looked back at any institute myself. I learned everything by myself.”
In general, the Internet plays a vital role in the life of Waqar. It’s also the foundation of an interactive approach to ‘groom his kids’, as he calls it. All of them are being homeschooled by their father in an all but typical way. They are affiliated with a public school, follow courses, take exams but don’t attend any classes. Instead, they watch daily YouTube videos around a particular topic they need to cover for their studies. “It’s the only screen time they get”, laughs the self-proclaimed teacher.
He started homeschooling his oldest daughter, Haadyah, three years ago. A decision that was not taken lightly by his community. “People were very much against it. They were scolding me that I was ruining her childhood, that she should work with professionals and so on. Even my mother, a former kindergarten teacher, was not amused. But so far, it’s going great: nowadays my daughter is top of her class, with no more than two hours studying a day.”
“But so far, it’s going great: nowadays my daughter is top of her class, with no more than two hours studying a day.”
“Whenever she needs to cover a particular topic, I tell her to watch videos on YouTube to get answers to all her questions”, Waqar explains. “After that, we sit down and talk about it. When I feel something is missing, I tell her to watch more material. When I sense she understands the topic, I tell her to write everything down in her own way. That makes her develop, express, and compose her own thoughts about a subject. And all that in a one to two hours activity.”
By homeschooling, Waqar wants to help his kids succeed in school, but most of all, in life. Therefore, he also tries to find creative ways to develop specific skills in them. He gave as an example a multimedia project he set up with Haadyah. “I noticed that she had confidence issues, so I thought about a practical way to address that, without putting her under pressure. So I told her to launch her own YouTube channel and start creating content. I see her getting more confident and better at expressing her thoughts with every video, which was the whole idea. The next step is that I will tell her about the spectrum of digital marketing by teaching her ways to promote her content!”
Tech Lead at JOGO
Besides being actively involved in the life of his three wonderful kids, Waqar is also managing the technical side of JOGO. He coordinates the work of ten different developers and makes sure that all of them are on the same page. “Every day, we have a short status meeting with the whole team in which we run through all the tasks that everyone is working on so we are all aligned and can tackle any problem at an early stage”, says the Tech Lead. “But in the end, I’m responsible for every technical decision of the project across the board. Everything needs to happen with my consent. I created the whole database structure and architecture of code, so I need to be on top of things.”
The choice to join JOGO was an absolute no-brainer for Waqar, who directly saw massive potential in the talent development platform—from both a personal and business point of view. “In the whole IT market, JOGO is one of the most prestigious projects to work on. The kind of solution we’re offering is ahead of its time and only seen in startups in Silicon Valley, if any”, explains the man whose team is responsible for the whole technical experience of the platform.
The ‘Pakistani Maldini’ who doesn’t like to watch football
If the JOGO app had been around when Waqar was younger, Pakistan might have delivered a promising centre back to the world. During his school days, classmates even called him ‘Maldini’ after the Italian defender Paolo Maldini. Not so much due to his appearance, more due to his defending abilities. “Apparently, I stood my ground on the pitch.”
Although Waqar still likes to play football himself, he rarely sees a match live. Not only because he is busy with JOGO, being a great husband, and father, but mostly because he doesn’t find it an exciting tv sport. “It’s just watching some guys kicking a ball; it’s way more fun to do it yourself. So I don’t support nor follow a particular team, but I’m always up to play myself. We’re planning to have an internal JOGO team match at some point.”
Waqar wants to succeed with JOGO and dreams about setting the gold standard in youth development. And why not? Because if life taught him one thing, then it’s that nothing is impossible, especially if you put your mind to it.