As regional managing director for ThoughtWorks Pan-Africa, Ghanaian born, US educated Betty Enyonam Kumahor is able to integrate within every work decision she makes her love of research and analytics, her astute business capabilities, and her deep sense of social responsibility.
She’s formally trained in engineering and medical informatics and has done, for an executive, the usual obligatory stint at a business school (Keller Graduate School of Business, Cleveland, Ohio). But it’s her analytical mind that is the basis of her innate gift for expanding an organisation’s market share or slashing operating costs.
Most recently, as an executive director at Ernst & Young, she grew a US$ 50 000 account into a multi-million dollar practice in less than two years. At the beginning of her career, sixteen years ago, as an associate consultant for the Computer Sciences Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she was tasked with a special project focused on designing and developing an application and process to track and manage IT assets for more than 250 personnel. Her database solution saved 92% of the original cost estimate for the asset tracking programme.
So, Kumahor’s ability to cut to the chase and apply the insights she gains in ways that continuously improve business performance commands attention and respect in boardrooms and the corridors of political power.
As a result, she has played a significant role in creating strategy and setting policies. She was, for instance, the IT director for the development of a five-year strategy for the Ghana National Identification Authority.
She was the project director for IT strategy, IT enablement, and call centre implementation for the Ghanaian Fair Wages and Salaries Commission.
And she served as project director for IT organisational restructuring for HFC Bank in Ghana, for programme assurance for IT implementation for NDK Financial Services in Ghana, and for post implementation review of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank.
Kumahor has also been a member of the sub-committee developing Ghana’s National Broadband Policy for the Ministry of Communications, lead rapporteur and spokesperson for Ghana Connect’s National Broadband Policy Workshop, and a member of Ghana’s delegation to the World Outsourcing Summit.
Overall, for Ernst & Young, she led the Global Service Delivery Technology team, designing and deploying technology across the 140 countries where the firm operates.
For most people, such roles and responsibility would be quite enough to tackle in a fifteen-year working career. But Enyo believes in socially responsible leadership and, therefore, wants to make a contribution to African grassroots communities, too. She has a particular interest in encouraging women to overcome the economic and social obstacles in their lives.
This has led to her chairing both Woman 2.1 and the Ghana Women in IT organisations, being profiled on Ghana Broadcasting Corporation’s UniqFM StandOut program, in Ernst & Young’s next generation leadership programme (Global NextGen), and in a soon to be published book titled Upcoming Women Leaders in Ghana.
Beyond her particular focus on empowering women, from her early career, when she modelled and developed a prototypical application to track the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) HIV/AIDS projects worldwide, Kumahor has always believed that technology’s inherent problem solving capabilities makes it a crucial tool in community development.
However, she’d never been able to turn that belief into a practical reality because her work assignments always focused on organisations rather than individuals or communities.
Then she met Roy Singham, founder of ThoughtWorks, a software development company that is founded not only on an unusual approach to technology but also on applying technology in the service of society.
She accepted Singham’s offer of being responsible for the expansion of Thoughtworks across the Africa region and, since 2012, has been embedding the company’s extraordinary culture in new, African recruits and developing the regional office’s strategy and direction in relation to Africa’s particular needs.
ThoughtWorks founders co-authored the Agile manifesto and for two decades ThoughtWorks has specialised in Continuous Delivery of software, ensuring that organisations get working software in under two weeks, instead of months or years, and that an iterative production process ensures that the software delivered is always tightly targeted to an organisation’s needs. This radically reduces costs. It also ensures that both commercial and mission driven organisations serve their stakeholder bases more relevantly.
In addition, ThoughtWorks expects all its employees to spend some of their time, inside and outside of work hours, on a pro bono basis, using IT to address society’s needs. So, Kumahor is finally able to integrate her personal and professional passions.
She can, therefore, give your readers an exceptional view into IT and its relevance to society in general and Africa in particular.
ThoughtWorks – A software company and community of passionate individuals whose purpose is to revolutionize software design, creation and delivery, while advocating for positive social change. Our product division, ThoughtWorks Studios, makes pioneering tools for software teams who aspire to be great; such as Mingle® , Go™ and Twist®, which help organizations better collaborate and deliver quality software. Our clients are people and organizations with ambitious missions; we deliver disruptive thinking and technology to empower them to succeed. In our 20th year, over 2300 ThoughtWorks employees – ‘ThoughtWorkers’ – are currently serving clients from offices in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Singapore, South Africa, Uganda, the U.K., and the U.S.