Success Story of Abdul Fatah Shieryar

I never thought about leaving Afghanistan. We were leading a wonderful life.

He had worked in the IT sector in Afghanistan for many years and wanted to continue in the same field in Switzerland. But this was not an easy path.

Automation Engineer at PwC, Alumnus Powercoders



S (Sunita): Can you briefly introduce yourself and share a bit about your background before joining Powercoders?

A (Abdul Fatah): My name is Abdul Fatah and I am originally from Afghanistan. I was born in Switzerland but moved back to Afghanistan when I was 7. I am married and have two sons. Despite having roots here, I forgot German over time. I grew up in Afghanistan, attended school and university there, and pursued telecommunication & computer science. I worked in both the telecommunications and the computer science sectors for 13 years, spending the last 8 years at a significant company.

S: Would you be willing to share something about your journey from Afghanistan to Switzerland with us?

A: I never thought about leaving Afghanistan. We were leading a wonderful life. However, that changed when the Taliban came into power. My wife’s job made us targets and we were evacuated to Doha, Qatar, by the organization for which my wife worked. In Doha, we requested asylum from the Swiss Embassy, given our prior connection to Switzerland. In an unexpected twist of events, the Swiss Embassy not only granted our asylum request but also provided us with flight tickets to Switzerland. Surprisingly, we managed to reach Switzerland by air without passports.

S: How did it feel for you when you arrived in Switzerland?

A: We arrived in September 2021. I was tense, wondering how I would fit in. My English was passable, and my German was at the beginner level. I realized my diploma from Afghanistan wouldn’t hold much weight in the job market here. I was thinking about whether I needed to join a university and start studying again.

Back into IT

S: What motivated you to join Powercoders and pursue a career in the IT industry?

A: My background is in IT, having worked in the sector for many years in Afghanistan. I wanted to continue in the same field in Switzerland. At the time, we lived in a two-room emergency housing apartment, struggling to find a stable home due to our refugee status and dependence on social welfare.
As my German reached an A2 level, I felt the urge to explore opportunities in the job market. A family friend, whose daughter (Sodaba Hamid) is a Powercoders alumna, recommended the Powercoders program to me. The Powercoders website resonated with me immediately – it seemed tailor-made for my situation. I saw it as a fast-track route to obtaining a job.

S: Could you share your experience of overcoming the initial challenges?

A: It was not easy. We were relying on social assistance while living in Schlieren. My social worker initially rejected my request to join Powercoders, despite my attempts to demonstrate its benefits for me. Her decision left me upset and disappointed. However, an encounter with Linus Murbach during an info session changed that perspective. He encouraged me and assured me that a solution would be found. This interaction marked a turning point for me.

S: How did you approach your application to Powercoders?

A: I was highly motivated, and armed with an IT degree and practical experience. I was determined to chart the optimal path into the industry. I invested significant effort in preparing for the application process, following the website’s guidelines. During the testing weeks, I gave it my all and created a video tutorial on how to make a plug.

Journey at Powercoders

S: Could you describe your experience during the Powercoders program? What were the highlights for you?

A: To be honest, I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about the learning process at Powercoders initially. We were learning web design, but since I wasn’t certain about a career in that field, I couldn’t invest fully. However, everything changed after Career Day – the pivotal moment I gave it my all.

The Powercoders team, the friendship among my peers, and the insightful workshops made a significant impact. Social and business skill courses were particularly helpful, breaking barriers and fostering understanding among us. I still recall the first workshop by Lucy, where we learned how to introduce ourselves confidently. After that, we truly bonded as a group.

Transition to the Workplace

S: How did you experience the transition from the Powercoders program to a full-time IT role?

A: We were already used to a full-time engagement at Powercoders, so the transition was smooth mentally. It all boils down to your motivation. You need to put everything into securing a spot in Powercoders, then pour that same commitment into landing an internship and finally getting the job. There are no shortcuts, especially for people from refugee backgrounds with different backgrounds and education. My wife’s unwavering support in taking care of our kids played a crucial role in navigating this phase.

I was fortunate to have a supportive manager, Thomas Zihlmann who eased my transition. This was consistent with my experience in Afghanistan. A good manager is a blessing. He introduced me to the tools and technologies we were using, enabling me to focus on what I needed to learn. He entrusted me with projects and was impressed with my performance.

Of course, I also received support from my Job Coach, Rocco Romagnolo from UBS. He guided me through each step of the internship, answering all my questions and offering valuable advice. Even though my internship has concluded, we continue to stay in touch.

Taking off at PwC

S: Could you share your experience of working at PwC? How did your role align with your expectations?

A: I was pleasantly surprised by the PwC culture and how beneficial it is for the employees. They genuinely care about their staff and actively plan for their professional development. I appreciated the flexibility offered, including the option to work from home. It’s impressive how well the senior managers interact with and treat the employees. Interestingly, they place a strong emphasis on taking vacations, which is quite different from my experiences back in Afghanistan.
Since August 1st, I’ve been employed as a Business Automation Engineer at 100%. I am very happy with the job. The role perfectly aligns with my aspirations, focusing on low-code applications, an emerging technology that accelerates solutions for businesses. It’s a glimpse into the future, particularly for large companies requiring rapid automation solutions.

S: Were there any particularly rewarding projects or accomplishments you’re proud of?

A: One highlight for me was gaining expertise in Microsoft’s Power Platform technology. Certifications were essential to demonstrate my proficiency. Fortunately, PwC provided these Microsoft exams for free, allowing me to acquire three Microsoft Certifications. My manager recognized my dedication and performance, which was incredibly rewarding.

Advice for the next generation

S: What advice would you give to current Powercoders participants who aspire to achieve similar success in the IT industry?

A: It’s important to understand the reality – as people from refugee backgrounds, our background isn’t always in our favor. Our competitors often have a European educational background, which puts us at a disadvantage. But that should not discourage us. Motivation is key; anyone can learn, even if you’re a beginner. Embrace the challenge, overcome the difficulties, and secure that job! Once you’re in, things become slightly easier as you gain experience.


Abdul Fatah’s journey teaches us that with determination and learning, we can achieve great things. As he starts his promising career, his story can guide others going through similar experiences. We, at Powercoders, are incredibly proud of him and wish him all the best!