Take a chance – Semi never let the opportunity pass him

Semi Tukuna in his office in Suva. Picture: SUPPLIED

Growing up in the tough neighbourhood of Nabua, Semi Tukana, could have easily been a nobody.

He could have just been part of the crowd. But he chose to rise above his reality and be something bigger than himself.

Today the 61-year-old creates computer systems for various sectors in the Pacific, a feat not many can lay claim to.

His journey from humble beginnings to a stage where he now impacts the Pacific began with making the right decision.

“I grew up in Nabua, in a poor background where I had to be street-smart in order to navigate my way through the rough neighbourhood.”

He spent 18 years of his life in Nabua, an average student even right up to university.

But when you consider the fact that he successfully established three companies, while he sets his eyes on others, you’d easily agree that Mr Tukana’s journey as been nothing short of amazing.

“When I was in form 6 at Marist Brothers High School, I passed with 220 marks out of 400. I was just an average student,” he said.

He said it was by God’s grace that he managed to receive a scholarship to pursue a degree in mathematics and physics at USP.

He took up the challenge and grabbed the opportunity. After completing his studies and while waiting to graduate, a ‘job offer’ came from TLTB.

The offer however had nothing to do with his degree but had more to do with computers of the early 80s.

“I came from a physics and maths background and had no idea of databases. I went there and I was fascinated with computer systems and how some people were entering things on one side while I saw changes happening on this side. I thought, how do these things work? See this was 1982.”

While it was a challenge for Mr Tukuna, he soon found similarities between computers and what he learned at uni.

“So the beauty about maths and physics is critical thinking. At the back of maths is problem solving skills, the ability to divide and conquer. So I quickly learned that very very fast. In no time I was able to progress.”

While working at TLTB as a computer technician, he was given another scholarship to travel abroad to New Zealand to study metrology. That young man from the streets of Nabua had to make a choice about his career path.

“I had to make a decision whether to study metrology or to study computers. I was 21 years old, never been on an aeroplane or to any other country in the world. But I knew I was in the right place. I didn’t get distracted by the glamour of going overseas and I stuck to the computer programing. So I turned metrology down.”

This landmark decision earned him a graduate qualifications in Computer Science and Information Systems. It later allowed him to establish his companies Software Factory, Cloud App Labs and more recently SOLE.

Mr Tukana has designed and built information system products for numerous sectors including banking and finance, superannuation, health, public trustee administration, student administration, land management, and university post-graduate research.

These products are used all over the Pacific including Fiji. Looking back, Mr Tukuna credited his success to the work of God in his life.

“It’s how God works. His favor and blessing is unbelievable,” he said. Mr Tukuna is married with four children and four grandchildren.

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