On the lighter side of things, we ask an industry expert what makes them tick.
Sherry Zameer, SVP Internet of Things for CISMEA at Gemalto, gives us an insight into his life in and outside of work.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
I am not sure if I picked a career in technology or if technology chose me. From an early age, I have been fascinated by trying to understand how things work and have always appreciated the potential of technology to change lives and empower people. I knew I wanted to be a part of this change. I studied electronics in university, followed by a Master’s degree in telecommunications, and went on to work in the same industry almost instinctively without considering any other career path.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
I aim to identify and nurture my employees’ natural talent and empower them to express their creativity in order to realise their full potential. I am passionate about mentoring staff to allow them to learn and grow. I always seek to provide new opportunities for my staff to acquire new skills and encourage them to ask questions and ensure their contributions are recognised and valued. If I can help create a vision for my team to work towards and convert this into reality, then this would be my idea of success in management.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is bridging the barriers between the physical world and the digital world. AI has the potential to change every aspect of our lives from customer care, manufacturing and autonomous vehicles. The application of machine learning and cognitive predictive analytics in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities will create solutions that enrich the lives of this generation and the next. The level of automation that AI has to offer does not necessarily make humans redundant but, on the contrary, it will revolutionise our approach to solution design and problem solving and force us to be more imaginative and creative. I believe AI could potentially have the same impact as the industrial revolution.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
Time with family and my children helps me achieve the much needed work-life balance. I love to cook and really enjoy baking in particular, so outside the office I would fire up my Kenwood Pattisier and then it’s all about eggs, flour, butter and sugar after that.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
Whilst studying for my Master’s degree in telecommunications, I started my own company distributing mobile phones for Vodafone in the UK. In those days, I can recall speaking to the CEO of an engineering company about equipping their sales force with mobile phones and they were trying to justify the costs. Things changed quickly and the demand for mobile devices grew exponentially but I had to temporarily put operations on hold to concentrate on my final exams. Soon after that, I was offered a job and never went back to continuing with the business. If I had continued with my own company, I may have been on a different adventure now. Nonetheless, there are no regrets as I have enjoyed being at the cutting edge of technological change.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
Gemalto is primarily focused on investing in smart cities and leveraging the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). Smart cities – cities of the future – will provide a more comfortable, connected and safer life for citizens as a result of the provision of the latest IoT solutions, designed to make life digitally-enhanced and easier. As our world becomes smarter and more devices become connected, a robust network is required to meet growing expectations and the ‘always-on’ demand of connectivity.
Effective identity verification services are another area of major investment for Gemalto as this is key to tackling telecom fraud. Increasingly, public authorities and governments are requesting ever-stronger identity verification services.
Lastly, we see significant investments in Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) which decouples network functions from the underlying hardware. This technology allows generic hardware to be configured as network devices like a switch, a router, or any other type of network equipment via software, as required. NFV takes the concept of server virtualization and extends it to the network.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
Digital transformation is now becoming a reality and IoT is playing a part in the national agenda and GCC strategy. My role has changed because I see more of a need to contribute as a stakeholder into the ecosystem rather than working in a vertical approach. In order to build and integrate these ecosystems, my role requires bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders including government, telecommunications companies and technology providers to be part of the digital transformation.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
The survival of telecommunications operators in the future is based on the ability of the industry to work together with other stakeholders. For someone aspiring to become a C-level executive, it is necessary to have a clear vision of how to build this ecosystem across various, and sometimes opposing, stakeholder groups. Obtaining a c-Level position requires fostering strong partnerships, particularly in a service world where long-term transactional business models are key. It is also important to build and be a part of a collaborative, a team of people who are dedicated to delivering innovative solutions. Finding a mentor within your organisation can be the best way to learn and grow, and ultimately reach the senior position you aspire for. It’s the power of 3: Build an Ecosystem, build a partnership, build a team.