In 2011, a team from Google Ghana visited Ashesi to introduce the Google Student Ambassador programme to students. The programme was being launched in Ghana, and provided an opportunity for students to bring Google tools to campus. One of the students sitting in on the presentation at the time, was Thierry Gnanih ‘13, then a sophomore.
“At the time, I, like the few others who attended the presentation, was of the view that Google was an organisation full of computer and technology geeks who only went to work to have fun,” Thierry recollects. “I didn’t fall into any of those categories but I went for the presentation anyway and was encouraged to apply for the Ambassador position, which I did.”
A few weeks later, Thierry got a notification that he had been accepted into the Ambassador programme. From there, he never looked back. After three-month and one-year internships with Google in 2012 and 2013, Thierry now works with the tech giant’s Sub-Saharan Africa Customer Experience team in Dublin, Ireland.
“I work in a small team of 7 people, and our main responsibility is to provide support to small and medium businesses who use Google’s advertising products in Africa,” Thierry explains. “Among other things, we identify potential clients who could benefit from our products, promote and sell the Adwords product, help them resolve any issues that may come up while using the product; essentially a full range of support and consultative services to small African businesses. Most our clients are from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, so once in a while when I speak to a client from Ghana, that makes my day!”
Thierry’s work today requires that he relies on a wide range of skills, and for him, the liberal core and educational experience at Ashesi was helpful in preparing him for this.
“It was easy for my parents’ generation to succeed on a single skillset when they started their careers decades ago; this is not the case for my generation, and the dynamic environments we now live and work in. To thrive, we must be able to adapt, learn and apply new skills depending on what problems we have to solve; the liberal education experience at Ashesi, I have come to learn, teaches just that.”
“Again, despite attending a high school that had a very diverse student population, nothing could prepare me for the change and transformation I experienced when I stayed on campus,” he adds. “I developed tolerance, appreciation for diverse views and ways of co-existing with people from different backgrounds which I had never had the chance to learn throughout my prior life. On my team at Google now, there are five different nationalities represented, and everyday we work with clients from several countries across the African continent. It's easy to see now how my experiences on campus have shaped how I handle the different situations that come my way.”
So what one lesson would Thierry share with students at Ashesi today if he was asked? “Attend those company presentations on campus; your books are important, but the out-of-classroom experiences at Ashesi hold some of the best life opportunities. Take as many of them as you can.”