Antwanye Ford

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Antwanye Ford, President and CEO
Enlightened, Inc.
A Washington SmartCEO Corporate Partner

Native Washingtonian Antwanye Ford prides himself on Enlightened, Inc.’s commitment to philanthropy and community service in the DC area and beyond. That commitment also ties in well with the core values of this IT and management consulting firm, which include integrity, innovation and accountability.

Q: What services or products does Enlightened, Inc. provide its clients?

A: Enlightened, Inc. provides IT and management consulting services. Enlightened’s areas of expertise are:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Software development and integration
  • Management consulting

Q: What’s the underlying mission of the firm? In other words, what does the firm stand for?

A: Enlightened’s mission and core values are centered on what we called the e4i +A:

  • Innovation — When others say, “it can’t be done”, we roll up our sleeves and get started to suggest better approaches, practical solutions and productive ideas.
  • Intelligence — We learn rapidly and eagerly and display an aptitude for solving complex problems. Our clients lean on us as thought leaders.
  • Intensity — We perform every task with passion and deliver results beyond our client’s expectation.
  • Integrity — We always act with integrity and honesty, even when it is the hardest thing to do.
  • + Accountability — We have an obligation to do what we say we are going to do.

Q: In what ways did working for large corporations and having exposure to small entrepreneurial businesses combine to help you launch Enlightened and provide hands-on customer service and cutting-edge products to your clients?

A: As a manager and director in two large corporations, I have had several small businesses that worked for me and there were three main characteristics that stood out for the best performers. First, the best of these companies stayed hungry and never rested on their successes. Second, these high-performing companies studied me and learned what I wanted and anticipated my needs. Finally, these companies worked as if I was their only customer. They made themselves available whenever I needed them.

All of these values have been institutionalized at Enlightened. We do not allow anyone to rest on a success — we believe in celebrating, rewarding and moving forward. We believe that we should be thinking about our customer’s issues and opportunity as if they were our own. Finally, the last lesson that was adopted is that all resources supporting our clients must be available to our customers whenever they are needed. I have set the example, by ensuring that every customer has my personal cell phone number.

Q: Being a native Washingtonian, how much more does it mean to you that you are running and growing a business there?

A: This is one of the true joys of my career. As I travel the streets of the city that I grew up in, I am proud of what Enlightened has accomplished. Although a large portion of Enlightened’s revenue is federal, we perform a significant amount of business in the District of Columbia. Knowing that we impact public safety, healthcare, tax and other functional areas of my city brings me great joy as a native Washingtonian. 

Q: Describe your approach to client engagements. In what ways does your approach help differentiate Enlightened from its competition?

A: Our primary technical services are system integration and cybersecurity; however, because we have a management consulting practice, we have been able to bring a thought leadership perspective to technology areas that normally focus on technical solutions. We use our management consulting perspective to ensure that our technical solutions solve customer problems. We aim for our systems and services to deliver value. 

Q: Describe the importance of matching the right product sets with the ultimate goals of the client.

A: My father once told me that a person’s name is their best asset. At Enlightened, we believe that the right product set should enlighten customers to achieve their objective. We really don’t believe in technology — we believe in solutions. We believe in the right set of tools and processes to provide the right solution for our customers.

Q: How important is it for your employees to be a great match both technically and culturally?

A: Being the right fit technically is a mandatory requirement for most government contractors. However, Enlightened has engineered a culture process to improve our probability of a proper cultural match. We have re-engineered our hiring practices based on behavioral practices that most represent the Enlightened culture. Enlightened worked with consultants over a four-month period to develop this methodology designed to fortified our culture.

Q: What challenges and/or opportunities are presenting themselves to Enlightened? How are you positioning the company to overcome the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities?

A: The biggest challenge facing Enlightened is the “fight” for good employees. Right now, there is a battle for employees with the right technical skills and the right attitude. We are competing with large businesses with great resources. We are positioning Enlightened as the company to work for if you want a challenge, variety and want to show who you are and what you can do. 

Q: In what ways does Enlightened stay in tune with the needs of the local community? How has the company made an impact?

A: I served as the chairman of the board of directors for the DC Chamber of Commerce in 2013 and am currently an active Board Member. I also serve on the presidential council for the U.S. Black Chamber and the board of directors for the Downtown Clusters Geriatric Day Care Center. In addition, I am chairman of the board for On-Ramps to Careers, a business-education partnership that makes the educational on-ramps to technology jobs more attractive, effective and accessible to young people in the nation’s capital.

We have impacted the community through working with the homeless, raising money for the American Heart Association and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, working with the elderly and providing internships for inner-city youth. We are now working with Believers Temple Word Fellowship Urban Initiative in Ferguson, MO to assist with the restoration of the business community and support youth education. Enlightened established the John and Katherine Ford Fund as a business-restoration and education-support fund to assist in Ferguson.

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