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Gunjan Mansingh, agile advisor

SUPPOSE you are looking for an agile road map toward business sustainability. A vital resource is Business Intelligence for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: an agile road map toward business sustainability co-authored by Dr Gunjan Mansingh, a multirole expert who heads the Department of Computing at The University of the West Indies (UWI).

The book is a guide for any business which is coping with the current market challenges.

Dr Mansingh and her co-authors Maurice L McNaughton and Lila Rao-Graham have solid advice for businesses.

“We spent a lot of time thinking through those quotes [we used in the book], and the one that has stayed with me is, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there’ by Lewis Carroll.

In Jamaica, we cannot afford not to know where we are going,” Dr Mansingh said.

She is also a senior lecturer leading a team responsible for training and development in the region.

“From my own experience at The UWI, I know we are producing world-class graduates in computing – they are not just doing well locally. They are also working at the big tech companies (Google, Apple, Goldman Sachs) directly after their first degree,” Dr Mansingh said.

She traces the history of software development in Jamaica from the 1980s, when organisations were writing programmes to manage business processes.

“Anyone who has ever written a computer programme or built anything will attest to the ‘eureka’ moment they have experienced when the job is completed or making a breakthrough. If we want young minds of this country to be engaged not just as technology users but also those that can create technology, then we have to start early by making coding mandatory in schools,” Dr Mansingh pointed out.

In addition to her academic duties, Mansingh serves as chairman of eGov, the Jamaican Government agency charged with a significant transformation of the relationship between the Government and the general public, using an upgraded technology platform.

She is deputy chairman of the National ICT Advisory Council, MSET and a former chairman of the Universal Service Fund.

As Dr Mansingh sees it, digital transformation will require a multi-pronged approach.

“At the National ICT Advisory Council (NICTAC) of [the] Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, we created an ICT strategy that examines the entire ecosystem to ensure that no sector is left behind. For example, our focus cannot just be on infrastructure, devices and IT services, but we also need to focus on the educational sector and the technology industry. We need to revise the primary school and secondary school IT curriculum so that the young minds get bitten by ‘the bug of creating’ early in life,” Dr Mansingh shared.

A review of her academic life shows that it all started in her native India at St Xavier’s College, Bombay University and the National Institute of Information Technology, New Delhi, followed by masters and doctorates from The University of the West Indies.

Dr Mansingh takes every opportunity to share her knowledge and experiences through books, lectures, refereed articles and conference presentations.

She has also expanded her expertise through attendance at international academic meetings.

This education leader is passionate about the future of Jamaica, a land she has grown to love.

It is a 30-year love affair forged by a proposal from a husband heading to the land of wood and water.

“As a teenager, I loved Harry Belafonte’s song Jamaican farewell, hence, I gladly married him to see Kingston town,” Mansingh reminisced.

In an address to students of Campion College, her charge was quite clear as she drew on the words of Marcus Garvey, ‘If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.’