Interview with Ms. Nene Barry, Former Board Member of GNBCC  and Managing Director at Witteveen+Bos


Interview with Ms. Nene Barry, Former Board Member of GNBCC  and Managing Director at Witteveen+Bos

GNBCC had a final interview with Nene Barry who recently left the Board after a tenure of 4 years. We look back on her journey on the board of GNBCC.

Who is Nene and how did you get started in your career?

I am Nene Barry. For my education I did different course studies. My final masters program was in Construction Management and Engineering at the Technical University of Eindhoven. The reason I did different studies is because I always have new perspectives and therefore like to grow into new things. My background is in the course of years more in project development, project and process management within the building environment. I started working in 2013 at Witteveen+Bos in the water sector (mostly drinking water supply). Next to the Netherlands, I have worked in different countries in Africa and Asia. I am currently the Managing Director of Witteveen+Bos Ghana. As Witteveen+Bos, we have a worldwide presence, with representations either through our offices or our projects. We have had our office in Ghana since 2014, even though we have been working here for more than 20 years. . It’s been a good opportunity for me to represent Witteveen+Bos in Ghana. .


How long have you been Managing Director, what are your core values, and how has the journey been so far?

I came to Ghana mid 2017, took over management in 2018 and stayed in Ghana till end of 2019. My biggest motivation is to have a positive impact in everything I do. I became interested in working abroad because I felt in the Netherlands we have advanced quite a lot as a country and I wanted to see what we could do outside of the country. I studied in Singapore for a while so I was interested in Southeast Asia. Then I got involved in a drinking water project in Burundi  where I saw (live) the impact of the work we were doing there locally and that shifted my focus more towards drinking water and towards Africa. It also feels like coming home. Having a positive impact in all that I do is a core value. It is my way to contribute to humanity.


Can you give us some background information on Witteveen+Bos?

Witteveen+Bos has been involved in water treatment projects in Ghana since the mid-nineties. We use the office in Accra, as a hub to serve the wider African region.

The demand and potential Ghana/Africa has for engineering business is enormous. Infrastructure can be greatly improved and climate change is having a big impact. In addition to studies, design and engineering, our projects often include elements like training, awareness raising, stakeholder management, institutional capacity building, organization,financing, and management support. In Ghana / Africa we focus on the water sector (from drinking water supply, wastewater treatment and agricultural related water infrastructures to water management, drainage, dredging, coastal protection and port development related works). While the water sector in its broad sense is integrated in most of our works worldwide, Witteveen+Bos is also active within the sectors Infrastructure and Mobility, Energy and Environment, Building and Construction.


Why did you become a board member and how has the experience been? What are some challenges you have faced and how did you conquer them?

My work for Witteveen Bos in Ghana is mostly developing projects and linking people. So I believed that my work for Witteveen Bos was aligned with my work as a board member. It has been a pleasant experience so far. We have had board members from different industries. It has been nice and very interesting not only to get to know each-others, but also to link people/companies through networking events for example and have links with NABC and the NBC. I came back to the Netherlands at the beginning of 2020. The challenge there has been being a member but not being able to be physically present. And another disadvantage has been that I get to do less networking and I can’t attend cocktail events. I have had to acclimatize to this new way of working.

How do you feel as your tenure comes to an end?

Somehow I don’t really feel it yet but perhaps I will once I come back to Ghana. There have also been a lot of changes in the board both last year and this year. Somehow, I don’t see it as an “end”, I know the collaborations both with board members and Tjalling (GNBCC) would still continue.


Where do you see GNBCC in the next 5 years?

Looking at GNBCC’s current activities and projects, I expect good advancements. I foresee growth as a linking pin to the Netherlands. I also expect the link made with other chambers will give a good boost. Furthermore I see potential in LNBCC and SLNBCC as well, considering the needs in those countries and upcoming developments.


What are the next steps for Nene and what can we look forward to from Witteveen+Bos?

I have relocated to the Netherlands but I am still the managing director of Witteveen+Bos Ghana. The aim has been and continues to be to have ongoing and increasing activities in Ghana. I had to take a travel break after becoming a mum but I will increase my travel to Ghana and the African continent in the foreseeable future.

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