Empowering people to access opportunities: AMBA’s 60,000th member

In 2021, Enoch Opare Mintah became AMBA’s 60,000th student and graduate member. Ellen Buchan caught up with the award-winning University of Liverpool MBA student to talk about his career so far and his drive to make a positive impact on society

Can you tell me a little about yourself and your career so far?

I am from Ghana in West Africa. After completing high school, I took the path of volunteering. I have been volunteering all my life, delivering educational interventions in rural communities. I think this is what really motivated me to do my bachelor’s degree in English, as I had experienced first-hand the literacy gap among young learners.

Upon completion of my first degree, I moved to work with the British Council as a language assessment consultant for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). I also worked with other organisations looking into how to develop new technologies which could help young people master English language speaking, writing, and reading.

After this, I wanted to enter the Chinese English language market but unfortunately there were many visa restrictions. I moved from the education industry and focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR).

In 2021, I gained my master’s degree in governance from the University of Lincoln, where my research focused on CSR and sustainability reporting, particularly in the UK airline industries.

I have been helping organisations to develop their CSR initiatives – especially with small and medium enterprises.

I am also Co-founder of a non-profit organisation – GISH Foundation – which was established in 2016.

You are Co-founder of the GISH Foundation. Could you tell me more about this organisation?

I was volunteering for an NGO that was committed to advocacy, and we would talk to beneficiaries about why they needed to be educated, and what they had to do to be educated best. I found a gap. I did not think it was enough to advocate for education only. There needed to be access to training; an opportunity to access resources for personal development.  

I moved from this organisation to another where they gave young people the opportunity to complete their  high school education. I realised that some of these beneficiaries were coming out with very good grades and there was nobody to sponsor them to pursue good programmes at university. Again, I approached management and they said this was how far our mandate would allow us to go. I think I got tired with these responses, so, in 2016, I decided to start GISH Foundation, which was interested in the holistic development of the beneficiaries; the holistic development of the people we are serving.

It is not about helping them to a certain level where they then get stuck. We aim to create a levelling environment to make sure that they fully realise their potential, from delivery of education interventions to social interventions, to providing support for special needs. Any intervention that creates that enabling environment for people to thrive.

You were recently included in the top 50 shortlist for the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2021. Could you tell me more about the award?

The global Chegg.org award recognises students who are both academically brilliant and  making an impact on society. I was selected out of a pool of more than 3,500 applications and nominations from 194 countries worldwide.

The award looks at students who are not just engaged in different academic work but who are able to relate what is happening in the classroom to society. If you ask me my motto for my social work, I always tell people that anything you see me do is aimed at empowering the less privileged to access opportunities. The award is just not about how well you do in class but the impact you are making on society.

I received a nomination and went through interviews. The amazing thing is, I was one of only two candidates in the UK who was shortlisted for this award.

After receiving it, I also caught the attention of the UK Government and 10 Downing Street and I was the awarded the Prime Minister’s Point of Light award, making me the 1,794th person to be win this award.

I think the selling point which really got me onto this shortlist, was my award-winning project, which is called Ubuntu.

What Ubuntu was doing was connecting classrooms beyond borders. Imagine leveraging the power of technology to enable a school in a rural area of Ghana to build a relationship with one in the UK. I was able to connect these two regions and have them share their culture and knowledge.

What are your next career goals?

Currently, I help organisations deliver their CSR goals, but I’m looking forward to tackling the gap between CSR deliverable goals and the activities of non-profits and charities.

We are looking at the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals – at how to tackle environmental issues, how to end poverty, how to end hunger. But why do we approach these challenges with siloed efforts?

There is a huge gap between what companies are doing to help society and what non-governmental organisations are doing to help society.

I believe that if we want to push society forward, then there needs to be more connection between companies’ CSR goals and the activities of non-profits. For example, if we are tackling plastic pollution, there should be an integrated approach as compared to a collaborative approach in meeting this challenge.

I’m working with some organisations to help them integrate the activities of NGOs into the wider CSR framework to make sure that there is more partnership and more of an integrated approach to this common goal of finding solutions to the ills of society.

Also, for example, the KPMG Impact Report 2019 outlines that the uptake of sustainability reporting in Africa and developing countries is very low, and as a sustainability reporting researcher, I’m doing more research into sustainability reporting in the hope of empowering small-and-medium-scale enterprises to reconstruct the whole practice of sustainability reporting and CSR in Africa.

Where and when did you achieve your MBA? Why did you want to study for an MBA in the first instance? And why did you choose to do an MBA at this School?

I am an MBA student at the University of Liverpool. For me, MBAs are for people who have reached a juncture in leadership and are tired with the norms and who want to build something new. It’s for the people who are bored with monotony and want to create something new, be it technology or innovation.

I chose the University of Liverpool, for various reasons,due to my CSR background. I was looking at an MBA that was diversified across several industries. The University of Liverpool is the only university offering an MBA in football industries, and an MBA in thoroughbred horse-racing industries, as well as the traditional MBA.

When you have an MBA programme where you interact with cohorts from football and horse racing, and realise it’s not just about the commercialisation of these sports but looking at them from a CSR perspective, you begin to think about how they are able to contribute to society on the levels of sustainability and ESG.

Choosing the University of Liverpool gave me the opportunity to go beyond the traditional MBA learning environment to interact with people working in industries you don’t usually find represented on an MBA programme. I was interested in learning what was happening in these industries. How do the football and horse-racing industries interact with sustainability and climate action?

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learnt from your MBA so far?

When you’re young, your parents always tell you to study hard and be top of the class and make sure nobody beats you.

You get to the MBA class, and you realise it’s not about who come first in class – it’s all about collaboration and networking. It’s not about competition – it’s about how the work gets done. It is not the person who comes top of the class that is guaranteed to do well in industry. It’s the person who can develop solutions to mitigate challenges in the business world.

So, moving from having childish thoughts about competing and being first in class, to enrolling in a programme where the goals are collaboration, networking, partnership and getting the job done, has been an interesting shift for me.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced when studying for your MBA?

Having done a master’s, I can say that doing an MBA is completely different.

You walk into a master’s class and your knowledge base is expanded. You walk into an MBA class and it’s like somebody telling you to look back at the challenges out there with an instruction to condition your mind. You are being brought to this class to be developed to come up with solutions to meet these challenges.

AMBA is passionate about its membership network being a global force for good. What should Business Schools be teaching their students so that they can be responsible and ethical leaders? 

I have always been a firm advocate of teaching of ethics in every Business School regardless of the course. Business students should not be exposed to ethics in passing – every student should have ethics as a mandatory course.

We have seen a lot of Business Schools turning out graduates who are profit-driven, not people-driven. In part, this is why we still encounter social issues out there in the marketplace, from human rights abuses to modern slavery.

I think it is time for Business Schools to teach ethics as a full course so that they are not just developing leaders with aptitude but also developing leaders with the right attitude.  

What are you most looking forward to about being a member of AMBA and connecting with 60,000 other MBA students and graduates? 

I think the essence of professional organisations such as AMBA is not primarily about boosting membership, but about delivering relevant competencies, and ensuring that anybody who subscribes has the opportunity for personal and professional development.

When you follow some of AMBA’s webinars and training, you realise that these are sessions you would not have in a normal traditional classroom environment. The guests AMBA brings on board, the kind of experiences and challenges they share, and the stories they tell, are the best lessons for ‘professionalness’ – whether they are early or mid-career.

Being AMBA’s 60,000 member gives me unlimited access to experience which cannot be gained in the classroom, while also connecting me with MBA students doing amazing things in other countries such as India or the Maldives. I think that’s the beauty of being part of a professional relationship: industry best practice is brought to your understanding in your local context. I always tell people that the easiest way to be creative is to copy well, and membership of AMBA gives you the opportunity to copy what people are doing very well, and then replicate it in whatever industry or community you find yourself.

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