Clear goals drive corporate success

Shahd AlQunaibit, Regional Director, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and Levant at Cisco AppDynamics talks to Channel Post MEA on how her result-oriented mentality put her in the position where she is.

Shahd AlQunaibit, Regional Director, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and Levant at Cisco AppDynamics

Tell us about your leadership style and philosophy.
I’d consider myself a highly driven and result-oriented leader who favours a work culture that breeds creativity, proactivity and commitment to achieving business objectives. I believe in a participative leadership style through open lines of communication, where everyone is encouraged to share ideas and work together to address challenges. Rather than just delegate tasks, I follow a ‘hands-on approach and constantly provide guidance and inspiration to the team, which often produces the best result. I am a big believer in goal setting to provide team members with a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Having clear goals drives corporate success!

What made you choose IT as a career opportunity?
IT is a fascinating and exciting industry as it’s a place of innovation and provides scope for constant learning and up-skilling ― something I strongly believe in. IT is the backbone of every developed economy and as such, the job opportunities are endless. I don’t see going to work as ‘a job’, but rather as a way to fuel my passion and contribute to an industry that is truly changing the way we live and work.

How has your unique background prepared you for success in the industry?
I’ve always been curious, dedicated, passionate, highly energetic and result-oriented, right from a very early age. Thanks to my dad and his enthusiasm for electronics, I was exposed to the latest gadgets and technologies that captured my imagination. Once I graduated high school, I had no other choice but to consider a career in IT — a field I believed would constantly keep me motivated and play to my strengths. Knowing that I wanted to take up a leadership position in sales, I decided to also pursue an MBA degree to complement my IT education.

What was your most interesting job?
I am passionate about understanding the challenges technologists are dealing with. Over the last 12 months, they have had to cope with so much change and the speed of innovation in response to the Covid-19 crisis has been staggering. So, it’s important, more than ever, that we invest time in building relationships with a variety of stakeholders, including C-level execs, to truly understand the complexity of their IT environment and the problems they are trying to solve.

And when we get it right and implement the right technology solutions that have a real impact on business performance, it is massively rewarding. Hard work always pays off!

What advice would you give to women looking to break into the field of computer technology?
Find a champion ― male or female — who is willing to help you break through any glass ceiling that you may encounter. Just because you’re good at what you do, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be successful if you don’t have the right leaders championing you. And always remember to pass it forward by being a mentor in the future.

You should be humble and open to learning from everyone you come across. You can learn not only from your peers but also from employees at every level. Have a willingness to accept that you know little in the grander scheme of things.

Be resilient, be clear in your communication with others, have confidence in the ideas you put forward (while also leaving room to understand and consider opposing points of view), learn to code, and importantly stay true to your purpose.

Finally, change requires a high level of awareness, so read, read, read! Learning curves are often steep, but reading can help speed up the process.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?
If we have learned one thing from the past year, it is that our dependence on applications and digital services has never been greater. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organisations all over the world to swiftly review their digital transformations plan and shift their business model to survive. The speed at which this transformation has taken place has been staggering. On average, enterprises implemented transformation projects three times faster than at any time before.

What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the tech industry?
The digital transformation efforts which technologists have achieved over the last year have been incredible. But with this rapid innovation has come an overwhelming level of complexity across IT environments and ever-increasing volumes of data noise.

So, the next major transformation for organisations and their IT teams is to manage that complexity whilst continuing to innovate and win market share. The coming months will be challenging, and technologists are well aware of what may be a turning point for them. So, it’s no surprise that 88% of technologists are considering the need to drive through a transformation at speed as the biggest challenge they will face in 2021.

Technologists need the right tools to enable them to cut through the noise and continue to innovate. Enterprises need the ability to quickly navigate through this data deluge to pinpoint what performance issues are the most critical and how they impact the business. 96% of technologists recognise that having the ability to monitor their full IT stack and link that performance to business outcome is essential to deliver first-class business experiences, a full-stack observability approach is key for them to identify and fix performance issues before they directly impact the business and or the customers. 75% believe their organisation needs to connect full-stack observability to business outcomes within the year to remain competitive.

In my opinion, this is the greatest technology transformation challenge enterprises face right now.

What’s next for you in terms of your career in the tech industry?
My life goal is to add more value to others’ lives, as I am passionate about helping people grow and supporting them to achieve, and even exceed, their life goals. My current position at AppDynamics gives me the platform to make this a reality. Over the next few years, I want to further develop my leadership skills and foster others to become leaders and grow. I will be looking for opportunities to expand my responsibilities, build strong and reliable relationships within the MEA region, and make an impact in my country and beyond.