Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) is one of the most popular undergraduate programmes in the country. And on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the prospects for such engineers are on the rise globally. Ahmed Faiyaz, a software development engineer at Amazon was interviewed recently in order to get guidance for CSE aspirants, students, and graduates.
After studying CSE in NSU, Faiyaz worked in Bangladesh and Singapore prior to joining his current role in the UK. He is also the second Bangladeshi to receive the Global Talent Visa which allows him to work in any company in the UK and also to start a business there.
Question (Q): You evolved from an engineering student to a tech resource for one of the biggest organisations of the world. What is your advice, in terms of self-development, to the youth who want to reach your level?
Answer (A): Algorithmic problem solving is important, which you should practice regularly and participate in programming contests as much as possible. You should learn the latest technologies and keep up with them by reading books and blogs. If possible, have some pet projects and utilise those to brush up your knowledge.
Q: What is the work culture like in Amazon and how can it be compared to the work culture that prevails in Bangladesh?
A: I have started working remotely, and so far, it seems work culture is pretty similar to the companies I worked for in Bangladesh and Singapore. One major difference is that Amazon is quite big, there are hundreds of teams working in different sections of Amazon's business. So inter-team communication is quite different. Text/ticket based communication is preferred in most cases.
Q: Could you give us an overview of the projects that you are involved in right now, and whether assignments of such magnitude can be accessed by an engineer working in Bangladesh?
A: Currently, I am working in one of the Prime Video Web teams. Prime Video is an on-demand video streaming service from Amazon which is accessible worldwide. My current work involves on boarding new languages for multiple regions. To give a perspective on magnitude, mistakes from my end will not only hamper the Prime Video platform but also hamper the Amazon website itself. However, Bangladesh does not have the companies to give large scale system experience for engineers and hence assignments like these are not accessible to engineers in Bangladesh.
Q: Are Bangladeshi resources proportionately represented in a world-class enterprise like Amazon? What are we doing wrong in comparison to other countries which feature better representation?
A: I would say, no. I don't see enough Bangladeshis in Amazon, or in any of the big companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft if we compare our population and representation with other countries such as India or Pakistan. A student needs to have a clear understanding of computer science concepts, while an experienced engineer needs knowledge about computer science and large systems, to get hired by big tech companies. Many Bangladeshis have the qualities needed for this, they just need to have confidence and, work on their communication.
Q: You are the second Bangladeshi to achieve this visa that allows you to work for any company in the UK and also gives you leeway to start a business. Could you tell us how you achieved such a special status.
A: I was offered a job in the UK to work with Data Pipeline systems. But as they were an early-stage startup, they couldn't sponsor the employment visa. I had to look for other options, and I found that the UK government provides a visa named Exceptional Talent Visa (currently called Global Talent Visa). This visa allows me to work for any company or start my own business. One can check the UK government's website to understand the requirement. I would say working in many startups in Bangladesh and Singapore helped me to fulfill the requirements. Furthermore, I gave guidance to some startups and education websites in Bangladesh to improve their tech infrastructure, which helped show them how I can create an impact on the UK's tech sector.
Q: Do you think that with the ushering of Brexit, Bangladeshi resources will be more in demand in the UK? If yes, please outline some of the steps aspiring professionals and entrepreneurs may take to find themselves in your position.
A: Yes, before Brexit UK got many tech talents from European Union countries as they had no travel restrictions. But after Brexit, those people have to follow the same procedure as Bangladeshi people to work in the UK. So from a logistical point of view, nationals of Bangladesh and other countries will be the same. All we need now is to show that our skill sets are on par with or above that of European tech resources. There are many startups in the UK, and they need a lot of software engineers, so if you have world-class tech skills it will definitely provide a better chance to work in the UK after Brexit.
Q: From a macro perspective, what do you think the government can do to ensure that Bangladeshi human resources are world-class? And from a more micro perspective, what do you think institutions can do to achieve this goal?
A: The government can invite big companies to have their development offices in Bangladesh, or at least invite them to have hiring events in Bangladesh. Institutions should make sure students are learning computer science concepts properly, and encourage students to join the programming contests which help them become better software engineers.
The interviewer is studying in the final year of BBA programme of IBA, Dhaka University. He can be reached at email@example.com