While at Ashesi, Habeeb Aremu ’14 was almost always among the top programmers at annual Career Fair programming competitions. As part of his prize package on one such occasion, he got the opportunity to engage with executives from one of Ghana’s biggest corporations. Following this encounter he received a call from one of those executives, who had gone on to join Software Business Solutions Consulting (SBSC) and needed a team to help start an office in Nigeria. However, SBSC needed him not only to program software, but also to help build the Nigerian office from the ground up. It would require him to go beyond his technical Computer Science knowledge.
“Ashesi’s broad curriculum approach helped prepare me to fit in multiple roles – which I have had to do a lot since joining SBSC,” he says. “Already, I have worked in administration, in business development and as a project manager. Also it helps that I essentially sell software solutions so my software skills come in quite handy as well.”
At SBSC, a boutique consulting firm that works with global clients to develop opportunities and solve I.T problems, Habeeb works as a Senior Business Development Analyst in their Lagos office. His job takes him from supervising teams in Ghana and Nigeria to brokering deals with the company’s clients, spanning oil and gas, banking, healthcare and transport industries around the world.
“I had always been worried about working in a corporate setting,” he says. “This is because of the sometimes bureaucratic structure that is involved, and the semblance of being just a cog in the wheel. On the other hand, working for SBSC, which is still essentially a startup [in Africa] puts me at the frontline. My decisions have visible impact on the company. I also get to listen to business owners share deep insights into their business and the challenges they face; then I have to figure out how technology can solve their problems. It’s exciting because I am always learning new things about businesses and how they are run.”
At Ashesi, Habeeb’s influence extended beyond the classroom. He served in the Ashesi Student Council (ASC) as the Off-Campus Representative and also served as the President of the International Student’s Association. It is with some of these skills he developed that he applies in leading the teams on projects and deals.
“Leading and working with a team has been a learning experience,” he explained. “I was lucky enough to have such an experience at Ashesi; being the president for the International Student’s Association taught me how to manage those I am responsible for and how to delegate. Working on the ASC team also helped me learn how to lead through followership while playing football in the Ashesi Premier League taught me a lot about working in a team. All these are essential in my role now. You need to work with your contemporaries; your bosses and those junior to you. And everyone of them has their own interest at heart. The soft skills really can’t be taught in a classroom.”
Born and raised in Nigeria, schooling in Ghana had only been a faint consideration; then a year after enrolling in a university in Nigeria, he reconsidered college locations due to a prolonged strike.
“I mostly researched schools in Ghana and South Africa; it was a long time friend of mine, Kabiru Seidu ’14, who told me about Ashesi. When I visited the Labone campus and saw the three buildings, in 2010, I wasn’t so impressed, considering I had also visited bigger Ghanaian universities. However, after some research, and conferring with family friends in Ghana about Ashesi, my brother and I enrolled. And honestly, I am glad I did.”
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