Rising from township roots to a top tech powerhouse

Amohelang Lebele’s resilience and determination has culminated in a position at one of the world’s most powerful cloud computing platforms. Supplied

Amohelang Lebele’s resilience and determination has culminated in a position at one of the world’s most powerful cloud computing platforms. Supplied

Published Aug 27, 2023


If you are a budding entrepreneur who is looking for inspiration in this tough economic climate, this profile may be just the thing for you.

From modest beginnings in the heart of one of South Africa's largest townships, Amohelang Lebele’s resilience and determination has culminated in a position at one of the world’s most powerful cloud computing platforms.

Instead of faltering in the face of adversity, Lebele thrives on challenges, a testament to her tenacity and can-do attitude. The more daunting the obstacle, the greater her enthusiasm for tackling it.

Lebele says her journey into IT came about by accident, and she is grateful to have realised the serendipitous passion.

“I started out aiming to take on a career to study mechanical engineering but, having faced one obstacle after another, including a lack of funds for studying, followed by the closure of my institute, I applied for a learnership in networking simply because the opportunity was available.”

Tech proficiency alone isn’t enough, soft skills set up success.

After working in the field for some time, Lebele discovered she had a natural aptitude for it. Realising she could take her career further, she applied for assistance to study data science. Her hunger to learn and enhance her qualifications then led her to apply for a sponsored placement at ALX, a leading tech training provider, to study Cloud Development.

“The course I completed through ALX was of a world-class standard and the culture was truly something that set it apart, I found it extremely empowering. The cohort was made up of people from many different backgrounds, all eager to share their experiences, ideas, and solutions. Our connection sessions were geared to encourage this – and helped us develop networks.”

She says this speaks to the trainer’s approach to learning. As well as helping students hone their technical competencies, ALX provides a strong focus on the soft skills that are key to success. These skills are a differentiator in an AI-driven world.

Lebele says the emphasis on practical work was also extremely helpful.

“Hands-on scenarios and putting our problem-solving skills into practice was very helpful. I often reference the lessons I learnt in my current position, and I realise that as challenging as a project may seem, ALX provided me with all the tools I need to do the job.”

After completing the course, Lebele felt she had a more rounded skill set. Her new qualification meant she had more insight at a practical level – insight she is excited to put to use at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where she now works in Data Flow Analytics. It’s a dynamic position at an organisation where the learning, and the pace, never stop, she says.

The thrill of working at one of the most powerful companies in the world is not lost on her.

“I always give my all, so this exciting environment suits me. You could never get bored here. plus, you are learning from the very best talent in the industry.”

Women in tech: it’s time to take the wheel

As a woman, Lebele is especially appreciative of the opportunity she has been given. She says that the field of data science is a particularly welcoming one for females.

“I think that our special knack for providing finesse and precision is most useful in this industry.”

Lebele says women have a gift for overseeing the finer details of any situation; in short, making sure that things unfold as they are supposed to.

“When a woman is at the wheel, you know exactly what time the car will arrive!” she laughs.

“I think that this industry is still heavily dominated by men, but women can make a definite difference to how things are done – and that’s why companies should be seeking to employ and advance more females.”

Lebele has not forgotten about her early struggles to first gain entry, and then make an impact on the industry. Now that she has a seat at the table, she is determined to make the most of it. This includes taking advantage of every opportunity that comes her way.

“My goal is to become a ‘tech guru’ – someone who is good at networking, data science, engineering, building data pipelines and data streaming pipelines, creating apps and programming. I think that the various areas of IT all come together to create a picture – and I want to be able to do it all.”