How do you prepare for your return to Africa after several years abroad? Do African institutions and companies offer a good framework for students to stay after high school? André Hot, Career Architect and expert in mobility on the African continent answers these questions for 14km.
I am André Hot, of Cameroonian origin, currently Director in charge of recruitment and mobility development in Central and West Africa, at Aivancity School for Technology Business and Society, where I cover ten countries. In parallel, I intervene as a coach and Career Architect in mobility where I accompany students and adults in professional integration or reconversion. I also participate in many conferences and summits dealing with the issue of mobility outside and inside Africa.
In terms of my career path, I pursued an engineering degree in computer science, from which I graduated from the Engineering Institute of Limoges. Towards the end of my studies, I discovered an attraction for education and employment: I wanted to accompany young and less young people in their careers. So I started at Campus France (Cameroon), where I was in charge of mobility for French higher education. I then worked at the Dominique Savio high school, where I was in charge of education and orientation, before joining the Lyon School of Management as a consultant manager, where I was in charge of recruitment in Cameroon and some countries in Central Africa.
First of all, I would say that I have always felt a need to be in contact with people: I like to discover and learn from them. Secondly, I think that Africa has potential and that with all our skills, it is possible to build the Africa we want.
Also, from a personal perspective, I think at the end of the day, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself what you’ve done and what’s left of your various accomplishments. It’s not just about making a good living, it’s also about giving value to our actions.
They leave because they want better opportunities. And, it is true that in the case of many African students, many -when they have the means- opt for countries such as France, the United States or even Canada.
I think that each family should be given the opportunity and the choice to guide their children as they wish, especially when the child’s professional project is in line with this departure abroad. For many African parents, post-baccalaureate studies represent many financial sacrifices. Therefore, if they have the capacity to do so, and if they have identified an ecosystem that could correspond to the student’s professional projects, our job is to be a bridge, and especially to guide and accompany the students and their parents in this goal.
There are many environments in Africa that do not necessarily offer quality education. In the Career Centers, we notice for example, that the post-graduation integration for French students is between 0 and 6 months, with internships, alternations, which allow them to integrate professional environments where they can test things, dream, and develop different solutions while they are still learning. This is basically what is missing in African universities, which for the most part have not created the environments necessary for the professional development of their students.
Moreover, I think it is a problem related to the synergy of the different cells of society. In Africa, companies expect graduates to come out with skills, when parents have totally delegated the whole aspect of training to the educational system. As for governments, they have the role and responsibility to make their destination attractive, and to put in place healthy conditions where things develop. Each stakeholder has a role to play.
First of all, I don’t think we should generalize everything: everyone has their own realities. There is the career on the one hand, and the different life projects on the other.
From a corporate perspective, there are multinationals and local companies that integrate people from the diaspora through expatriate policies. Many HRs are even starting to cut some costs to hire people from the diaspora. I also believe that one should not look at things with a savior complex: going to Africa means adapting to new realities, which are not necessarily the ones you will find in Europe, or in the United States, but which are just as different and require adaptation and involvement.
I think that the return to Africa must be prepared in advance. Taking the time to reconnect with the country, traveling there a little bit every year, building a solid network in your sector, and learning to integrate again are important initiatives. It is also preferable to have already found a job before coming back. Finally, learning how to sell yourself remains important, especially in order to convince an employer and negotiate accommodations according to our different realities. It is one thing to have skills, it is another to use them to develop a network.
For me, the basis is to know yourself, you have to know what you are made for. When we know ourselves, we can define what our existence is based on, and the objective is to project ourselves onto a tool. We must ask ourselves essential questions: “What is the environment or the framework that will allow me to develop? What is the framework that will allow me to develop these predispositions?
Then surround yourself with people who have been successful in your field. You need to gain time and experience, to benefit from wisdom. You really win if you have a good entourage and a good mentor. Finally, you have to learn to look for the right information, because many people don’t know where to look for it or receive it late, which can waste time.
Aurelie Kouman – Journalist