February 12, 2017
As a student at Ashesi, Francis Asante ‘11 was not only fascinated by computer programming, but he was also convinced he wanted to pursue a career in the industry. So as a student he divided his time between school work and developing himself as a skilled programmer.
“I always had in mind the kind of person I wanted to become,” said Francis. “I knew I wanted to do a bunch of programing and engineering because I love it, so I’ve been skewed towards making decisions that optimized for learning opportunities in those areas.”
Several years after leaving Ashesi, Francis joined Amazon Web Services in Cape Town, South Africa, where he is part of a team of software engineers helping to develop world-leading solutions for cloud computing.
On a recent visit to Ashesi’s campus, Francis shared his journey from Ashesi to Amazon, speaking to a mix of faculty and students. Following graduation, he turned down lucrative offers from several financial institutions seeking his skillset in their tech departments. Instead, he sought out opportunities where he could be at the forefront of programming. He did his national service at Softtribe a leading software company in Ghana and afterwards joined Rancard, yet another software company in Ghana. Both experiences helped him cut his teeth in the industry.
“At Rancard, I worked on several interesting projects, from back-end to front-end systems and getting involved with anything available,” he recalled. “I was keen on becoming the go-to guy, so whether I knew a solution to something or did not know it, I was going to know it eventually.”
Seeking new challenges, Francis transitioned from Rancard after a few years; dabbling with a startup while exploring opportunities to program on a global scale. Eventually, following a recommendation from a classmate from Ashesi, the team at Amazon contacted him. After a series of tests and interviews, he joined them in Cape Town.
For Francis, being at Ashesi opened possibilities. From making friends who would challenge him to become a better programmer and later impact his career, to making use of facilities like the Career Services office, he looks back on his Ashesi experience with appreciation.
“It’s critical that while you’re in school, you get some experience,” he said. “There’s obviously a different level of competition in Ghana, compared to the rest of the world, yet we still have to compete globally, so you want to test the waters as quickly as possible through internships. Know where the gaps are, fill them, and clear the low barriers, so you can accelerate into more responsibilities; taking on bigger projects, and growing as a person, in character and in competence.”
Now at Amazon Web Services, for Francis, the journey has been one of pursuing passion and creating impact. “The opportunity to work with African engineers in building the world’s leading cloud technologies just blew my mind,” he said. “There’s enough challenge in this environment to fill your plate for a lifetime. We’re at the peak of engineering and knowing that you are part of something big that’s not just about building software, but also changing lives, is a good feeling.”
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