On the lighter side of things, we ask Mohammad Alotaibi, Director Of Information Technology – Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority, what makes him tick in and outside of the office.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
I have to admit that my strength comes from my solid technical background, I started my career as a UNIX administrator but my thrust for technology knowledge led me to explore most of the technology sectors therefore I have achieved a huge technical background. But with this kind of strength comes a great responsibility, the responsibility of transferring this knowledge to the right people who will eventually evolve into the future technology leaders. After achieving this I can say this is the most memorable achievement it overwrites any infrastructure overhaul or implementations I have done for any organisation.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
Since my childhood I was a geek, I loved to play with new technologies and use them. I remember when I was seven years old I started learning MBASIC. Since then I have found technology is very innovative and gives a huge satisfaction, a career in technology is really meaningful. It involves a lot of problem solving. It is a very challenging career path and you will never be bored. To be honest the tech industry is growing rapidly – that’s alone a huge factor for thinking of a career in technology.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
My style of management philosophy is a combination of motivation and efficiency. My approach is to inspire employees to improve their overall performance by setting high goals in their KPIs and giving them the keys to achieve the goals. To increase the efficiency, I divide the responsibility between employees to ensure getting the maximum efficiency, bear in mind specifying a clear responsibility is a key factor for maximum efficiency.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
For me its cognitive computing, it’s the core of all new hot technologies like Machine Learning or Natural Language Processing. I think in terms of cognitive computing effecting the technology industry heavily, especially the software sector, researchers project that 96% of the enterprise software companies are going to adopt cognitive computing in their future software development. It’s crucial now to pursue cognitive computing – most of the chatbots in websites are using part of the cognitive computing. I think it’s the hottest technology at the moment.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
The best way to unwind to relax is by taking a short time off and travel. I love traveling especially with my family this usually helps me unwind work stress. While time-off sometimes is not an option, I have managed to deal with stress by putting my mind and body to work. I love building models specifically robot models and paint them, it’s a hobby that makes me happy.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
Well a decision is usually made based on information, I don’t recall a specific decision to be honest, but with every decision I make I learn a lot. I can see the positives in what I learned from any decision I took, sometimes if I could turn back the clock I would have changed it. Maybe it wasn’t the best decision but it was the best decision I could have made with the information I had at the time.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
I guess the major areas of investment in technology nowadays is confined to IoT, AI, Blockchain and the cloud. Some would argue that streaming is a major area of investment in technology but I can say for sure it’s AI. The ability to replace the human brain with AI is fascinating, considering the AI potential and the achievement this sector has already achieved I think it’s the major area of investment.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in the Middle East?
Data governance and cybersecurity is one of the top challenges in the Middle East, when implementing any new technology we take a huge consideration of the security aspect. Software enterprise companies usually focus on the security aspect while developing new software but they won’t be bulletproof. On one hand, talking about data governance the challenge here is the more business expands data grows and becomes complex leading to a complex data governance.
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 changing every aspect of the business. Technology now is the driver of business, taking in consideration technology is consistently changing and shaping the business and it plays a big part of my role. It’s forcing my role to adapt to meet today’s demands and the new business environment. I think the role is rapidly growing in importance and I believe my role is now more focused in contributing to corporate strategy. Digital Transformation is giving my role a big chance of becoming a CEO.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
The CIO role is very essential. It requires a huge number of skills, both in business and technical, the C-level position requires a mixture of leadership and management. It requires dedication and persistence too, but the most important thing here is communication. Everything I mentioned is highly important, but if you can’t communicate clearly and concisely, and with passion, you will very much struggle, so my advice is attitude and communication is as important as anything else.