Okwudili “Ody” Mbegbu’s early love of music ignited his computer programming career and continues to spark his creativity in software development today.
When Okwudili “Ody” Mbegbu started music lessons in school as a young boy, he flat-out failed. For the first time, he didn’t naturally excel in a subject at school and earn high marks. He was so distraught by that F that he told his mother he’d never play music again.
But, like any good parent, Ody’s mom wasn’t having any of that short-sighted negativity. She found a tutor nearby who challenged and encouraged him to continue his music education. Ody studied with her twice a week, and in one short term he shot up from an F to an A.
That blew my mind!” Ody recalls. “It was the first time in my life I learned I can be good at whatever I want if I am willing to put in the work and the effort into it.
That valuable lesson changed his whole outlook. From then on, when Ody faced a new challenge, even if it was something he initially didn’t think he liked or had a talent for, he remained confident in his ability to master it.
That attitude has served him well over the years. It’s also the same mindset that permeates Theorem and allows him to help such a wide variety of clients find solutions to their most complex problems.
For the Love of Coding
When Ody arrived at university, he met another teacher who challenged him to grow by learning a new language. By this point, Ody was already a polyglot, but his lecturer wasn’t talking about languages like Igbo—Ody’s native Nigerian tongue—or even English or French, for that matter. Instead, he encouraged Ody to learn a whole new way of communicating by becoming fluent in the programming language BASIC—the Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.
That first foray into computer programming piqued his interest so much that Ody couldn’t get enough of it in class. He devoured everything he could get his hands on about speaking “computer.”
“I’m the kind of person who likes challenges a lot,” Ody says. “I don’t like when things get repetitive and boring. There’s a current theme in my life where I get fascinated with something and then that thing is all I think about for three weeks or a month. And maybe after a month, I just leave it and pick up another thing, and the cycle repeats.”
For brief periods, Ody took deep dives into 3D modeling, teaching interior design with AutoCAD and even game design. And for a hot second, he even seriously considered making beats his full-time gig. But what really hooked him on computer programming was experiencing the FruityLoops DAW (digital audio workstation) software and having the epiphany that he could mesh his passion for music and programming together in his career.
Preaching to the Masses
“Music speaks to me in very deep ways,” Ody says. “If I’m coding, for example, and I’m listening to music, it has a way of getting me into the ‘flow state’ very quickly.
“Flow state is a state of mind where you’re doing something that is challenging enough to keep you engaged but not difficult enough to get you frustrated,” he adds. “It’s that state when people are the most productive. As a software developer, it’s a very important tool that I use because for me to get to my peak productivity writing software, I need to get into that flow state and music is one of the very few things that gets me there very quickly.”
Ody still utilizes everyday that hard-work ethic he learned early in his formative years in music; yet he is no longer the student, he is the teacher. Outside of Theorem, you can find Ody proselytizing the benefits and merits of his favorite programming language all over the interwebs and social media—from YouTube to Twitch and even Medium. He lives and breathes F# and freely shares that knowledge and passion with others via instructional videos and live demonstrations, informative blogs, and speaking professionally at events like functional programming conferences.
Playing to the Power of People
Ody leads a fun and full life in and out of work from home in Lagos, Nigeria. He describes himself as a “fully domesticated extrovert” which just means he doesn’t like going out but absolutely loves it when he does. He also has an affinity for chess and artificial intelligence. In fact, Ody was so captivated by Google’s AI algorithm, AlphaZero, when it beat Stockfish, the reigning chess champion software in 2019, that he decided to add “make a chess engine” to his life’s bucket list.
“Watching that whole thing play out and listening to grandmasters explaining how the games that AlphaZero plays are different from the games that regular computers play, that was fascinating to me. That meant that even though computers are ‘better than’ humans, there are things that are like computer behaviors that human beings can recognize. I wanted to understand how an AI mimics human game, human skills, and how that is different from pure calculation of an engine.”
Ody joined Theorem as a software engineer in February and enjoys helping others in his role. What he likes about Theorem is also what he says sets it apart from other companies he’s worked with: Theorem focuses on the people who make up the internal teams and are the bedrock of its service.
“Theorem is different,” Ody says. “It’s not selling a product, per se, but rather it’s selling expertise. There is a huge focus on making sure people are at their best, that people are executing as an exceptional standard. This is what drew me to the company and what makes me proud to be a part of Theorem.”