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20 Questions with Ernest Ekutor, Coordinator for PMA2020/Ghana

Ernest1.jpg1. What is your name and role in PMA2020?
Ernest Ekutor, Coordinator for PMA2020/Ghana. 

2. How did you get involved with PMA2020?
I have worked with Dr. Easmon Otupiri (PMA2020/Ghana Principal Investigator) for 7+ years (we are a great team!) so as soon as the opportunity came, it was an easy decision for us to work together. I was part of the very first pilot of PMA2020 in Ghana in 2012. I started as a supervisor for the central region and subsequently became the coordinator for PMA2020/Ghana. 

3. What does your typical day look like?
I am up by 5:30am and get to the office around 8:00am on days that I don't go to the field. I link up with the data managers to get all data-related issues sorted out either by contacting my supervisors or getting in touch with the resident enumerators (REs), or solve the problems myself. I make a lot of calls either directly to the REs or to the supervisors to make sure our results are high quality.

On days I go to the field, I meet with all the supervisors to see how their output is and to discuss challenges they are facing, which we address through the help of the PI. 

4. What skills do you most frequently employ in your work with PMA2020?
I am a link between the central staff and supervisors and REs. For that reason, I try as much as possible to rally everyone around, tapping into each person's expertise to get the work going. I have never been an autocratic leader or someone who thinks he has all the knowledge over his subordinates. I make everyone feel important, including our REs who are out in the field. I take their ideas and thoughts seriously, and that has brought some level of trust and unity to PMA2020/Ghana. 

5. What is your favorite thing about working with PMA2020?
I love working with the large group of people across the country of Ghana. The modern way of collecting data on the smartphone is so awesome, and PMA2020 gave me the exposure to that platform. For that, I am truly grateful to my supervisor and Hopkins. The Hopkins team is just amazing, and I enjoy working with them.

6. If you could describe PMA2020 in a few words...?
Most reliable data!

7. Why do you think PMA2020 is important?
PMA2020 is very important. It has introduced a modern and more technological way of collecting data which is fast, efficient, and reliable. PMA2020 has created amazing job opportunities for over 100 Ghanaians, including our our amazing REs who work in economically-deprived areas across the country. When PMA2020 is on recess, our REs call every now and then to ask when the next survey round is coming. This indicates to me the extent to which PMA has helped economically here in Ghana. 

Ernest2_0_0.jpg8. What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
I wouldn't want to call it a challenge, but rather an avenue to learn and gain experience: making sure the work is done on time and with minimal issues and of course, good data. This causes me to lose sleep some nights, but to be honest, I love the challenge because I have been able to discover some things about myself that I never knew. 

9. What do you like to do in your free time?
I love football, so I watch videos of my favorite team in England, Chelsea, and sometimes I listen to cool worship songs. 

10. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
Bill and Melinda Gates. 

11. What are some valuable lessons learned from your time in PMA2020?
Once you set a target to do something, you should be able to deliver. PMA2020 works with time and within that stipulated time, results must come in. We try as much as we can to deliver results. For me, this is a great lesson that will help with other endeavors. 

12. How would you encourage young students hoping to do similar work that you are doing?
I think it takes humility, patience, dedication, and above all, God at the center. Everything under the sun is achievable. They can achieve anything only if they want to. 

13. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go?

14. What is your favorite public health topic?
Maternal Health. 

15. Where would you like to be in 10 years?
I would like to be a senior lecturer in any reputable institution. 

16. What are you afraid of?
I am afraid of the unknown. 

Ernest3_0.jpg17. What is the most interesting thing you have learned while working with PMA2020?
I have enjoyed learning about how the Open Data Kit (ODK) application works, the whole mode of data collection and submission. 

18If you could change one thing about anything, what would it be?
If I could change anything about my country, it would be unemployment. The level of unemployment here is just unbelievable, so that is the first thing I would change. 

19. Who is your role model and why?
I admire Bill Gates because he affects the world positively with his wealth. 

20. Any last words?
Working with PMA2020 has been extremely awesome and I'm hoping to continue the great relationship with Hopkins.