This is the next segment of our blog series highlighting Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors who achieved the Gold milestone and have recently graduated from university. Each blog in the series features a different student and highlights their accomplishments, their experience with the Student Ambassadors community, and what they’re up to now.
Today we meet Fanie Ndlovu who is from South Africa and recently graduated from the Durban University of Technology with an Bachelor of Technology in Information Technology.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
When you joined the Student Ambassador community in 2019, did you have specific goals you wanted to reach, such as a particular skill or quality? Did you achieve them? How has the program impacted you in general?
In 2016, I was working for the biggest pay TV company in Africa as a User Acceptance Tester, but after a year, I decided to leave to go back to my university to follow my mission of creating a platform that equips students and youth with fundamental skills required in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
The Student Ambassador community played a significant role in enabling me to create the platform as it provided resources, mentorship and network. The Azure credit we get every month helped our team to prepare lessons using different services, and we got access to Microsoft Cloud Advocates to ask advice and were able to collaborate with other Student Ambassadors.
What are the accomplishments that you’re the proudest of and why?
The creation of my platform was my biggest accomplishment. The reason for me to build such a platform was because tertiary institutions are unable to deliver fundamental 4IR skills such as cloud computing skills, coding, AI, and robotics/IOT on time because of a rigid curriculum that is due to the big size of the university and to strict and long policies that are required to be followed in order to change one’s curriculum. To this date, the platform I created has impacted more than 4000 people, including university students, school students, women, kids with disabilities, and deaf students.
In 2020 I hosted the platform’s first virtual event for deaf students to talk about Artificial Intelligence. What inspired me to host this event is that we have deaf students at my university, but the tech events I have attended such as hackathons I never had any deaf students attend, so I decided to host a tech event to uplift the community. We received press coverage in The South African and on the Durban University of Technology website. We took attendees through an introduction to Cloud Computing (Azure) and Artificial Intelligence and showed them how those tools are used to address the challenges that the deaf community faces daily.
I also obtained my Power Platform Fundamentals Certificate using a voucher provided by the Student Ambassador program. That helped me to complete a big project for my university, the Revolutionary Engagement App, a mobile app I created using Microsoft Power Apps along with Someleze Diko, a Beta level Student Ambassador. The Engagement App is a mobile and web application that will register, monitor, and maintain university students’ and staff engagement projects based on the faculty and department goals and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
What are you doing now that you’ve graduated?
I am running my company, Fanie Home Pty (LTD), a Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider focused on Power Platform. The company has been operating since 2017. Currently we are busy with an e-learning platform for entrepreneurs and a reporting tool for the university, both of which run on Azure.
Our country has always struggled to create job opportunities for graduates after college. I started my company to bring hope to them by creating job opportunities and a place for them to express their talents while making this world a better place.
If you could redo your time as a Student Ambassador, is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have planned my time appropriately to host more events, wrote more articles, and done more video tutorials. I also would have engaged more with other Student Ambassadors.
If you were to describe the community to a student who is interested in joining, what would you say about it to convince him or her to join?
Currently most companies when hiring look beyond your main tertiary computer science or IT qualifications. They check for industry certifications such as Azure certificates. As students, these certificates might be a little expensive to you, but the Student Ambassador community program provides you with free vouchers to take certifications, which increases your chance of employment.
What advice would you give to new Student Ambassadors?
You are part of an amazing and great community. Get in touch with other Student Ambassadors with a higher status [Editor’s note: there are 3 levels that a Student Ambassador can attain—Alpha, Beta, and Gold] to help navigate through the program. Other Student Ambassadors can also help you empower others to achieve more since you can't do it alone.
What is your motto in life, your guiding principle?
In my personal and business life: Do no harm to others.
What is one random fact about you that few people are aware of?
Many people see me doing amazingly well. What motivated me to do amazingly is the fact that when I was in high school in 2010, I failed 6 out of 7 subjects. To overcome that problem, I eliminated videogames and playtime with friends during weekdays, designed a study timetable, and requested a friend who was senior to me to help me.
Another fact is that the weird thing about me is I do not watch television series or movies, only documentaries.