Abe Ankumah was immediately intrigued when he first heard about Ashesi twenty years ago, through his friend, Dr. Ayorkor Korsah, now head of the University’s Computer Science and Information Systems department. To him, Dr. Ayorkor’s decision to forgo prominent positions in academia in the United States and return to Ghana to teach at Ashesi spoke volumes about the quality and potential of the institution. “When Ayorkor introduced me to Patrick Awuah a few years ago while I was visiting Ghana, I was struck by his humility, servant-leadership, and deep sense of purpose,” Abe expressed. After graduating from high school in Ghana, Abe was fortunate to get into a number of leading universities in the United States, with scholarships and additional financial support from his parents. One of his reasons for leaving Ghana was his interest in receiving a world-class education in computer science and electrical engineering, both of which were not available in the country back then.
“I believe that Ashesi’s commitment to providing a world-class education to young Africans is critical in addressing the pressing challenges faced by the continent, and, in the long run, some of our global challenges,” said Abe. Ashesi’s focus on ethical and entrepreneurial leadership resonates deeply with Abe along with the skills and mindset the University equips its graduates with, to create positive change in their communities and beyond. Abe is drawn to Ashesi’s African heritage, its bold vision of developing critical thinking skills within the local context of the continent, and its drive for an African renaissance. “By 2030, 1 out of every 5 individuals on earth will be African and Africa’s population will more than double from 1.2 billion in 2018 to 2.5 billion in 2050,” he noted. “Ashesi is operating within this context and partnering with other like-minded educational institutions on the continent and beyond in developing the next generation of leaders, who are ready to tackle the challenges and opportunities that will arise from these generational changes.”
“I believe that Ashesi’s commitment to providing a world-class education to young Africans is critical in addressing the pressing challenges faced by the continent, and, in the long run,
some of our global challenges.”
During the summer of 2022, Abe visited Ghana and led an Entrepreneurship Workshop for Ashesi students and alumni through the Ashesi Venture Incubator (AVI). “I got a chance to interact first-hand with Ashesi students and left the session incredibly impressed by their promise, potential, poise and well-informed views on many topics. The quality of interaction, engagement and curiosity was akin to what I’ve experienced at other world-class institutions in the United States,” he noted. Since then, Abe has invested his time as a mentor to a number of entrepreneurs he met during the workshop who have shown incredible resolve, adaptability, and grit as they navigate the highs and lows of building a company. “The caliber of these students and alumni impressed me to the degree to which I would encourage my children to attend Ashesi if they were to consider Ashesi for tertiary education.” During Abe’s first meeting with Patrick, the parent of an Ashesi alumnus approached Patrick and thanked him for the opportunity Ashesi had provided his son. The parent shared that his son had received offers from a global technology company in Ghana as well as a graduate school fellowship to a leading university abroad. “These experiences, together with getting to know Patrick and other members of the board, increased my conviction about spending some of my limited time as a Foundation Trustee,” Abe explained.
“There is a famous quote which has always resonated with me – ‘Talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not’. With that lens, there are several ways I’m motivated and excited to help drive Ashesi’s mission,” said Abe. “I’ve been blessed with a strong network of individuals and access, which I look to leverage as an Ashesi ambassador as we continue to grow the University’s global network and increase outreach, especially within the technology and entrepreneurial community in Silicon Valley.” Abe sees this as a way of creating opportunity, especially in the backdrop of Africa’s increasing relevance in technology and innovation. He looks forward to facilitating mentoring, teaching, financial resourcing, and being a thought partner as Ashesi executes its strategic plan for the next decade. “A tremendous amount has been accomplished within the first two decades of Ashesi and I’m excited about what is to come in the next two decades,” he shared.
Abe Ankumah is Vice President & General Manager for VMware’s SD-WAN and SASE business. Abe joined VMware via the Nyansa acquisition in February 2020. Prior to joining VMWare, Abe was CEO and Co-Founder of Nyansa, Inc. a fast-growing innovator of AI-based network analytics based in Palo Alto, CA. Abe began his career working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. He holds a BS degree from Caltech and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Abe is also an inventor on multiple patents.
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