Getting To Know Our BurdaEducation Team Series: Mamadou Goundiam

BurdaEducation’s team live Burda’s company’s mission and values every day, ensuring that projects are completed correctly and on time, every time.

In this series, we explore what motivates the hardworking members of the BurdaEducation team as they support the education of millions of children around the world.

Name: Mamadou Goundiam

Designation: Director, Africa

Country based: France

Upon completing his MSc in management in Lyon, France, Mamadouwent into strategy consulting to work in a wide range of companies and industries and explore the world. He spent the next 10 years working on strategy and business design, including many projects in Africa, mostly in telecom and media. In 2014, he joined an Africa-focused telecom company where he worked on Burda’s nascent education business strategy (which was to become BurdaEducation).

Mamadou joined BurdaEducation in his current role at the start of 2018. Now, he gets to ‘walk the talk’ and execute that strategy.

  1. What do you see as the main objective of BurdaEducation?

When I worked on BurdaEducation’s business strategy, it became obvious that education is one of the biggest development drivers for Africa and other developing regions. Aid agencies, local governments and many organizations across the world are investing heavily to get more children into schools and more books to these children. I realized that a lot of that money is not well spent: prices are inflated by inefficient processes and providers, books are seldom delivered to their final destination, or, when they are, they are so poorly made that they only last a few months.

BurdaEducation’s role is to raise the bar in educational printing and related services, providing high quality teaching and learning materials that will support student learning, provide good value for money, and lead the way in setting professional standards. This is important not only to support development in recipient countries, but also because these projects are often funded by taxpayer money.

  1. What drew you to this profile?

Having earlier worked on the business strategy, I recognized BurdaEducation high potential and had a good feel for how serious the parent Burda company was about making a difference. Also, part of my family is from Mali. Working with BurdaEducation seemed like an effective way to contribute to the development of the country where I have my roots, as well as the rest of the continent.

  1. Could you describe what your role entails?

Together with the rest of the BurdaEducation team, I look after BurdaEducation’s Africa portfolio. Since the beginning of the current year, we have opened an office in Dakar, Senegal, and expanded the team there, as well as in our Kigali, Rwanda office. We have also implemented projects in Djibouti, Ethiopia, DRC, Mali, Senegal, Liberia, and Mozambique. In addition, I am working on a range of partnerships with printers and publishers, and frequently meet with the logistic companies that deliver our books. There’s never a dull moment!

  1. What project are you currently working on? Please describe its scope and goals.

At any point in time, my team and I have on average three to four ongoing projects across Africa, in addition to the tenders and requests for quotation we are receiving from our clients. In general, projects entail improving the layout/editing of existing content to make it easier for students to learn, obtaining approval from our clients, printing large volumes of books (this year we have delivered projects ranging from 20,000 to 7 million books in Africa), making sure they are shipped on time by boat or plane to their initial destination, and then ensuring that they are delivered as requested; either to warehouses or directly to schools.

  1. Have you experienced or seen any specific outcomes of your work?

As part of our projects, we provide proof of delivery to our clients to ensure that the books they paid for arrive at their final destination. We generally do not get the chance to visit schools to test how the books are received by students and teachers. However, we have been fortunate enough to be selected several times in a row by the same client and so can confirm that our books have been delivered and are still in good condition and in use in schools. 

  1. What is the most satisfying aspect of your work?

We run systematic after-action reviews with our clients to find out what we did right and where we could improve. We recently completed a project where the client told us they had been running the program for five years and this was the first time their printing provider actually helped them improve the quality of the materials that were distributed.

Knowing that thousands of children learning to read will have access to better quality materials thanks to our work is immensely gratifying!

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your work?

In some of the markets where we operate, we still see inefficiencies, malpractice, and, at times, corruption. Ultimately, this results in poor quality or overpriced materials being delivered, when they do make it to the agreed destination. Although we are seeing noticeable improvements in some countries, this remains a reality in a lot of places and I still find it very difficult to accept.

  1. Is there any specific project or achievement of which you are especially proud?

My team and I try to keep the same level of focus for all the projects we work on, no matter how large or small. I think we are in a unique position where the quality and accuracy of our work can have such a huge impact on the lives and prospects of millions of children: it’s a huge responsibility.

  1. What is your personal goal for the company and its clients?

My personal goals for BurdaEducation are many. First, I believe we need to continue improving the book supply chain across Africa so that every child gets access to books that are well conceived, well printed, and available on time at a decent cost.

Second, I want us to have the same impact (and more) on the rest of the education book value chain, including content design through our partnerships and our own capability.

Lastly, I would like BurdaEducation to play a leading role in leap-frogging the way education works in developing countries, harnessing the potential of digital and AI to accelerate the way education is transforming Africa
and other regions.