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Igniting Innovation: Bilikisu Wunmi Olatunji’s Journey with Abuja’s Thriving R User Community

By November 28, 2023Blog

The R Consortium recently caught up with Bilikisu Wunmi Olatunji, founder of the Abuja R User Group and R-Ladies Abuja. Bilikisu shared they began conducting in-person meetups last month by adding new types of gatherings, such as focus groups, quarterly workshops, and more. The October event was a success, as the group now has members from diverse fields, including a lawyer. Currently, the group is planning more exciting events for the upcoming year. 

We interviewed you in September 2021 and published Creating Successful R User Groups in Abuja, Nigeria. It’s nice to connect with you again! What’s new?

It’s great to reconnect with you too! Since our last interview in September 2021, our local meetup group has seen some exciting developments. We’ve continued to grow our community with members from within and outside our local community, and we have had both local and international speakers who have supported us by honoring our invitation to speak during our meetups, which led to more engaging and beneficial experiences for our members.

Last month, we had our first in-person meetups since the COVID-19 lockdown. This has led to some significant changes to the expansion of our event offerings. We’ve added new types of gatherings, such as focused groups (Data science and analytics with R, Epidemiology, Econometrics), quarterly workshops, and hybrid meetups, to cater to our community’s broader range of interests. These additions have received a very positive response, and we’re looking forward to increased participation and impact for our members.

To maintain momentum, we’ve utilized WhatsApp groups and established focused subgroups for Data Science and Analytics, Physiology, and Economics, allowing continuous engagement and specialized discussions.

We’re piloting an on-site group starting today and plan to expand access in January. The next six weeks, leading up to Christmas, are a trial period for this new approach. Beginning in January, we aim to scale this prototype, enhancing our support for the community.

We also appreciate the grant we got from R Consortium this year to support our group. Thank you, R Consortium.

In summary, we’re moving towards study groups, quarterly hybrid meetups, and workshops that will continue to serve our local community effectively. We’re excited about what’s ahead and look forward to the positive changes these plans will bring.

We want to get to know you more on the personal side. Can you please tell me about yourself? For example, hobbies/interests or anything you want to share about yourself. 

Sure, I’d be happy to share a bit about myself. I am Bilikisu Wunmi Olatunji. I’m happily married and blessed with wonderful children, both sons and daughters. Although my work often keeps me very busy, in my downtime, I have a passion for the arts — I particularly enjoy drawing. Another one of my pleasures is savoring delicious food. I’m not much of a cook, so I relish the opportunity to dine out with my family and explore different cuisines.

When relaxing at home, I love spending quality time with my kids, often watching cartoons or movies. These moments are special to me as they allow us to laugh and enjoy each other’s company.

These are aspects of my life that I usually keep private. Professionally, I’m a data scientist and the founder of Abuja R User Group and R-Ladies Abuja. I work closely with other co-organizers to help develop and expand our community.

You held a Meetup on Abuja R User Group Meet & Greet on Oct 28th, 2023. Can you share how the event went? What kind of topics were covered? Why those topics?

Yes, we had our first in-person meetup since the COVID-19 lockdown. The primary goal of the meetup is to meet each other and know what the members want from the group moving forward. We had new members who attended the meetup, and most of our old members also called in to show their support. We discussed the challenges the group and the members face, e.g., attending in-person meetups. I found the event to be a positive experience that will motivate me and others to help improve the groups’ meet-up attendance. A fun suggestion from our members was to involve dancing and more enjoyment in our meetups. 

Who was the target audience for attending this event? 

Our focus is on academics, particularly those in statistics and computer science, which aligns well with our area’s abundance of educational institutions. However, integrating our work with schools has been challenging due to bureaucratic hurdles, making it time-consuming and stressful.

Despite these obstacles, we’ve made some progress. We managed to have academic participation in our events—for instance, Muhammed Tahir Muhammed, a statistics lecturer from our network. We also had a representative from the field of epidemiology named Isaac Joseph, the department director. 

We’re excited about the potential for collaboration with these academics and professionals. At a recent event, we were pleased to see participation from three professionals from different fields, a new record for us. Among them was a lawyer, Michael Ezeh, who has experience with data visualization tools like Power BI and Tableau. He’s keen to expand his programming knowledge, starting with R, which is encouraging. We also had the following new members: Obaniyi Fidelis (Economics), Mafiana Ifechi (Data Analyst), and Benedicta Amarachukwu (New to R Data Analyst).

We’re running small focus groups as a pilot, which we hope to launch by January. The diverse backgrounds of our attendees are promising, and they will likely attract even more participants to our community.

Any techniques you recommend using for planning for or during the event? (Github, zoom, other) Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people unable to attend physical events in the future?  

I recommend Zoom meetings and Github. They are both easy to help regarding collaboration and resource sharing.

When is your next event? Please give details!

We will be starting our focus groups in January. We are currently using the remaining days of this year to plan for 2024.

Please share any additional details you would like included in the blog. 

We’re excited and hopeful that we will be able to impact the community with much more coming next year. We’ll be able to reach out to more people. As shown in our pictures, we have a fun time. I can also say that our numbers on the Meetup group are growing, which makes me happy. 

How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups worldwide organize, share information, and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute.