Monday, 23 December 2013

Hey, I'm a Thoughtworker and #ComeHome !

During the last summer vacation from school , I got an offer to join Thoughtworks Pan-Africa in the Kampala, Uganda office. I was excited to receive such an opportunity to join this revolutionary tech company and also to travel to an East African country to learn their culture and meet new people.

Let me give you a gist about Thoughtworks Inc. Thoughtworks was founded by Roy Singham , we are a community of passionate individuals whose purpose is to revolutionize software design, creation and delivery, while advocating for positive social change. We have over 2500 employees, with 29 offices in 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, Germany, India, Singapore, South Africa, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States. You can learn more about us here  Thoughtworks is a leader in Agile software development.

Thoughtworks Pan-Africa  is focused on hiring local talent to help in the design and creation of software. This is a game changer in technology here in Africa since most foreign technology companies set up marketing offices in Africa, in order to sell their products to the masses because they do not believe African techies are baked enough to help in the building of softwares.  I was enthused over this and also happy to be a part of this new tech wave here.

Working at Thoughtworks was simply amazing and I will give you a feel of my experience. Prior to joining Thoughtworks, my technology stack was mostly .net framework , VB , java , C++ , php , mysql , html , javascript but after two months of working about two different social impacting projects my technology stack , programming patterns became more advanced and my github repository is prove of that These are a few build tools and languages I was working with Python , Django , Ruby on rails and postgresql. TW programming patterns relies heavily on Agile and Object Oriented programming principles. This is a demo ruby OOP program i wrote with a colleague called Parking Lot.  I had a feel of Agile practices like Pair programming and Test driven development which was a bit difficult at the beginning but adapted to it quickly. Open this link to check out our Technology Radar which includes our build tools , programming languages , techniques , platforms etc The team I worked with was patient and they made me feel at home. I miss them so much. See below a few pix from Kampala :)

We have offices in Uganda and South Africa. The homeland of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah , Ghana is the next stop.......yaaaay! If you have a passion for technology and want to be a part of this revolution join us.We encourage more women to apply, most of our great engineers and business analysts are women. Meet our awesome Regional Director of ThoughtWorks Pan Africa Enyonam Kumahor.  We already involved in the Ghanaian community , we sponsored Women 2.1 Summit and the Start-up weekend Accra.  Okay I know i'm talking too much..Watch this awesome video and meet our awesome Pan-African team..

Finally we are inviting you to attend our #ComeHome cocktail this holiday season on Friday 27th December , 2013 @ Villa Monticello . Join Betty Enyonam Kumahor, Regional Director of ThoughtWorks Pan Africa,  to spend an evening exploring how Africans are returning home and contributing to Africa’s continued development using technology as their tool. Yours truly will be there with my fellow TWER's Uchenna Moka  and Edem Kumodzi . Join us @ ThoughtWorks Pan Africa and be a part of Africa's technology revolution Register today for this event today!

Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand. - Martin Fowler 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Is it my time to dropout from the university ?

I don't want to pretend that I am the only person to think of this, nor that I will be the only person trying it - but there are both good and bad reasons why I contemplate on leaving school to pursue technology full time .Hearing of the success stories of Bill Gates , Steve Jobs , Zuck and other great entrepreneurs who dropped out of college to start their companies has been my number one motivation in technology. What I always keep in mind is we are from two different worlds and you cannot take approaches that work in the West and think it will work in Africa, there will be so many failures than you can imagine.
 I'm currently in my final year in the University and the founder / lead developer of  a two year old start-up company called Oasis Websoft plus I double as an application developer at Thoughtworks Pan - Africa an agile software consultancy that aims to revolutionize the IT industry in Africa and create positive social change. 
I lost interest in theoretical computer science as opposed to practical construction of software systems after my first year in the university. Since then I've managed to balance my work with my academic activities although the ratio between work and school is 70 : 30 . I love the education process but I think ours in Ghana has been put in place to kill creativity. Each month a horde of new programmers, freshly trained out of Universities and professional ICT institutions graduate with impressive looking syllabuses, certificates ,degrees etc. claiming skills in Java, C++, C, Php, JavaScript,  COM, Oracle, SQL, HTML and MS Office. The problem is that, though the syllabus looks good and would be a good starting point for being a software and web developer, students do not spend time working on their personal projects like I do and instead code for a grade “A” in exams. 
Bottom line: We students are less than half-baked and cannot do productive work.
Those who get jobs afterwards land more technical jobs like computer administrators, hardware jobs and so on. Instead of utilizing the methodologies we learnt in programming and so on. Companies who hire us in Ghana for such job do not realize that we can actually build software to make their work a lot easy. 
I don't want to derail from the topic at hand. I spend late nights ( 11pm - 5:30am ) hiking on the internet and become oblivious of the fact that I have to be in school at 8:30am. I end up taking naps in school. Pictures of me has gone viral on campus so many times for sleeping in class. ( see below ) Just like most geeks , I hate sleeping , I feel we have slept all our life and this is the time for us to innovative and make a lot of mistakes. Is this good reason enough for me to put aside school and take on the world ? Technology waits for no man , I can't finish school before implementing all the crazy ideas I have in mind. In this context is school an obstacle ? Or should I finally dropout ?

Should I fulfil my mother's wish of graduating. If I do so , I will be the first and maybe the only son to graduate from the university in my family of eight with 6 siblings ( 3 boys & 3 girls ) Is this a good reason to stay in school this last year or just drop out once and for all ?

 I come from a society where majority of the youth enroll in the university to gain authentication ( degree ) to secure jobs in the future. Do I need papers to authenticate myself or is it my works that will vindicate my talent in technology? I have all these question running in my mind but I guess at the end of the day I will just sail through.

The first semester of Level 400 is almost over and I think I have come a long way to just drop out. Dropping out is two things. It's either success or failure - Great entrepreneurs are risk takers who have all gotten over one very significant hurdle: they are not afraid of failure. That's not to say that they rush in with reckless abandon. In fact, entrepreneurs are often successful because they are calculating and able to make the best decisions in even the worst of cases.. The decision is yours ? To all the great men in Africa who made it without a degree Kudos to you and to those like me who are passing through the system to make things right more grease to our elbows :) At the end of the day i'm a Humble programmer with a big mouth :)

Thats me in the blue African print in school this semester sharing Ideas during a class seminar. 

Wisdom is knowing what to do with what you know.
-- J. Winter Smith