Get the latest delivered to your inbox
Privacy Policy

Now Reading

My Cadence Volunteering Experience With WiTU Uganda: Challenges and Positive Outcomes

By Nick Heaton, Community Member

My Cadence Volunteering Experience With WiTU Uganda: Challenges and Positive Outcomes

By Nick Heaton, Community Member

Published 06-16-23

Submitted by Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

Barbara Mutabazi

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are not just words but values that are exemplified through our culture at Cadence. In the DEI@Cadence blog series, you’ll find a community where employees share their perspectives and experiences. By providing a glimpse of their personal stories, we celebrate our One Cadence—One Team culture and the importance of sustaining it as we learn from diverse perspectives.

How It Started 

“Can women in Uganda work as a part of the Cadence extended R&D team?” 

This was a question I asked myself after participating in a volunteer project in 2019 to work with the Women in Technology Uganda (WiTU) organization. WiTU has been supporting women in technology across Uganda since 2015. They provide digital literacy for women at all knowledge levels, including those hoping to start a business, and run a coding academy for young women who had been unable to complete higher education but have the talent to work in a programming environment.


The story of the WiTU founder, Barbara Mutabazi, is an inspiration itself. She founded WiTU in 2014 and initially trained girls on her porch with two borrowed computers. Since then, the organization has grown and now employs a staff of 15, and in 2022, impacted nearly 10,000 young women!

After experiencing first-hand the drive and talent of so many young women, I asked myself whether it was a ridiculous idea to think that some of them might be able to join a Cadence R&D team. Cadence did not have an office in Uganda and there were no plans to open one, so my first concern was how could they possibly join and ramp up remotely. Well, 2020 delivered the answer! The pandemic showed me that we could continue to hire interns in India and other places, and they would work remotely.

The second question I asked myself was, “Will Cadence support such an idea and how can I get it off the ground?” That question was answered readily by my manager, Ziyad Hanna, who immediately jumped at the idea and offered the funding to test a remote internship program.

Four interns at Cadence standing in a group

We had numerous early challenges, mostly pandemic related. Once WiTU helped us to put out the message that the program was happening, we had 60 applicants. We whittled it down to 20 interviews, and finally, five women were selected and hired. But we still had to face additional challenges.

The first challenge was getting laptops because the interrupted supply during the pandemic meant we needed help to get our hands on new machines easily. As a result, we had to make do with refurbished second-hand machines running a virtual desktop.

This highlighted the second issue: internet access. Because Uganda is a landlocked country, it relies on Kenya for all its fiber access to the internet, so costs are incredibly high and coverage can be patchy. We tried many avenues, but eventually, the best solution was to get good quality internet at the selected candidates’ homes.

Fast Forward to Today 
Unfortunately, one of the five original interns had to drop out of the program due to personal reasons, but the remaining four women have moved on from their internships to become full members of the Verisium Debug Product Validation (PV) team.

They have Cadence laptops and good internet, and for all intents and purposes, they are just like any other R&D team member. So, the answer to my original question: “Can women in Uganda work as a part of the Cadence extended R&D team?” is a resounding “YES!” While there are significant barriers, they can all be overcome. Now, let’s hear from the selected women about their journey to become an integral part of Cadence.

Transformational Experiences

Miriam Manteza

Miriam Manteza 
My internship officially commenced on October 4, 2021. We embarked on a comprehensive training program covering various technologies, including C++, Python, and Linear Circuits, among others. Additionally, we tackled numerous IT configurations, such as setting up virtual machines on both Windows and Linux systems. These tasks proved to be quite complex, beaten down by our unreliable internet connection. Despite working on separate projects, all of us worked together harmoniously, sharing knowledge and supporting one another to meet deadlines. Throughout this journey, I was fortunate to have the unwavering support of my mentor, Stewart Penman.

In the second year of the internship, Phemia and I were informed that we would be joining the Verisium debug PV team, providing us with even greater opportunities for contribution. The news, however, brought me a mix of pressure and anxiety within me. It meant transitioning to a whole new team and working on a different product.

When we were officially introduced to the PV team, everything changed. The team welcomed us with open arms, extending their support and assistance. Our manager, Ruchie, paired us with Ludmila, alias Ludi, who guided us through the entire onboarding process and served as our primary contact for any queries or issues. We had two months to familiarize ourselves with the various tools used by the team. The ramp-up journey was made smoother by the unwavering support Phemia and I provided each other, as well as Ludi going above and beyond our expectations. Despite her demanding schedule, Ruchie also made time to offer guidance and support. Eventually, I found my way and successfully completed the task, which gave me an immense sense of fulfillment. It solidified my belief that with determination, there is no limit to what I can learn and achieve.

The subsequent tasks I undertook were even more challenging and significant. But I can confidently say that the sky is just the beginning for me. It has been six months since I joined the PV team, and I love working here. I must acknowledge that this transformative experience would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our mentor, Nick Heaton. Nick went above and beyond to address all our concerns, even upgrading our home internet speed to 40Mbps, significantly facilitating our work.

My life has undergone a remarkable positive change. I can now take care of myself, my family, and especially my daughter, Genesis, and my grandmother, who happens to love eating fried liver!

Olive Nives

Olive Nives 
Cadence has provided me with an incredible opportunity for growth and has set the bar higher for my aspirations. The invaluable experiences and knowledge gained during this internship have continually empowered me to strive for excellence.

Onboarding with Cadence was challenging because it was my first job. Also, I also had no background in electronics. I received support from my manager and teammates, and I was able to onboard successfully.

There’s always something new to learn for every task that I’ve to accomplish. My team holds weekly training and mentorship from our supervisor, and with this, I have managed to grow as a Product Validation engineer. This has, in turn, made me a valuable member of the Python API team.

Phemia Ampaire

Phemia Ampaire 
An opportunity to work as an intern with Cadence came at the right time. I had finished my training in software development but didn’t have much practical experience. At Cadence, I have worked on two teams (System VIP and Verisium Debug). I have enjoyed working on the two teams because each team gave me a different experience to grow and contribute to the organization.

On the System VIP team, I was paired with Miriam to work on projects with Stewart Penman and Nick Heaton as our mentors. Our onboarding process took longer as the Python API was still in development. So, we concentrated on the online courses and then worked on a couple of examples for customers using Python programming.

The Verisium Debug PV team organized a team meeting to welcome and introduce us to the team members. My manager Ruchie Sassover assigned Ludmila as our buddy, who helped us with the ramp-up process, and within two months, we were already working on tasks from the roadmap. I love working with the PV team because of the endless support from all the team members and Ruchie .

I am grateful to my teammate Miriam. We have always made it a point to support each other to learn and finish our tasks on time. Special thanks to Nick for this opportunity, support, and connections to the right people to help us in the organization and contribution towards our growth and welfare. We already feel at home in Cadence!

Vivian Nabulo

Vivian Nabulo 
My internship onboarding process took about two months and was in a truly positive and compassionate environment. It involved getting familiar with the company and the team alongside the learning tools and systems needed to succeed.

On top of that, I was allocated to do online courses from various learning resources and the Cadence learning platform. This was because Cadence wanted me to leverage the skills used within the company. By the time I completed all the courses, I had gained the skills that I will carry throughout my career path

After two months of successful onboarding, I commenced to proactively work independently on most tasks. My manager Nick Heaton, mentor Ned Utzig, and other teammates were always there to facilitate, guide, and set expectations.

At the time of writing, it’s been one year and eight months, and I’m still loving the experience. The internet challenge I faced was solved by setting up the super-fast home internet. In return, this has increased my productivity. Now, I can complete a task with little or no guidance through my familiarity with the Cadence tools and APIs and the skills I gained from the courses.

In conclusion, my onboarding experience was a success because I got the freedom and time to settle into the company and my role. All this without being overwhelmed with abundant information and redundant processes.

cadence logo

Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

Cadence is a pivotal leader in electronic design, building upon more than 30 years of computational software expertise. The company applies its underlying Intelligent System Design strategy to deliver software, hardware and IP that turn design concepts into reality. Cadence customers are the world’s most innovative companies, delivering extraordinary electronic products from chips to boards to systems for the most dynamic market applications, including consumer, hyperscale computing, 5G communications, automotive, mobile, aerospace, industrial and healthcare. For seven years in a row, Fortune magazine has named Cadence one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Learn more at

More from Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

Join today and get the latest delivered to your inbox