Diversity is critical everywhere

Lama Sheikh, Chief Administrative Officer, Finesse explains to Channel Post MEA that industry has evolved over the years and woman are now being encouraged, so there has been no better time for women to join technology than today.

Tell us about your leadership style and philosophy.
I have always been a people person. Hence, democratic leadership comes naturally to me. I believe that everyone is part of the process and therefore should be able to voice their opinions, share their ideas, and be part of the decision-making process. That way we move together towards a shared vision. I greatly encourage my teams to be their best selves every day and treat them with empathy, thoughtfulness, and kindness.

What made you choose IT as a career opportunity?
Deep-within, I love helping people; it brings me great joy bringing smiles and hope in everyone’s life. Technology is a great enabler – it provides the means to create meaningful experiences impacting lives positively and brings lasting progress to all. Growing up, I was always fascinated by how technology made complicated things possible, and thus pursued my career in technology.

What advice would you give to women looking to break into the field of computer technology?
Diversity is critical everywhere, as it enables organizations to create better and safer products that take the view of the many. Also, organizations are taking note that a diverse workforce brings in increased profits, have more engaged employees, and retain employees better.

Technology has long been an industry where women are underrepresented. One of the main reasons were women finding it difficult to grow within tech organizations, and their viewpoints not being considered. Things are now changing. Women are now being encouraged to bring forth their thoughts, opinions, and experience to the fore, and be heard. Women are provided facilities and programs that support their careers, which were non-existing earlier. There has been no better time for women to join technology.

My advice for women breaking into the tech industry would be to first ‘show up’. Once you set in, take up new challenges, and be passionate and committed to what you do. Success will show up on its own.

Much like other industries, technology is always evolving, but quicker. Being a lifelong learner will open more opportunities in your career. Yes, there would be challenges on your way – embrace those, instead of running away, and you will rise on the ladder of success soon enough.

One more thing I would like to add here – being in technology does not mean you need to code. If coding is not your thing, that is perfectly ok. There are multiple careers within the Technology industry you can aspire to be in. There is high demand within the technology industry for women in roles like User-experience (UX), Product Management, Project Management, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Human-resources.

Take me, for example, I do not code. My expertise is in Administration, Operations, Compliance, Govt Relations and Finance Support. My responsibilities in these roles have grown over time, and I have had a rewarding career till now in the technology industry. I am grateful to be able to help the company grow and drive departments within Finesse to function at their best, every single day.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?
It is difficult to pinpoint a single point in time or aspect that can be pointed as the greatest transformation in technology. In my decade-long career with Finesse, I have seen a gradual transformation within Finesse itself, and across the clients they serve, and the outcomes from those have been phenomenal, to say the least.

But the greatest transformation I have encountered is how organizations – large and small, transformed themselves overnight to the realities of running a business during the Covid-19. Challenged to serve customers and support employees working remotely through advanced connectivity, and keep security aspects of data in the view, organizations have transformed themselves in ways they never imagined. They are now able to serve customers remotely, keep their employees safe through remote tools, and managed to ward off cyberattacks through advanced security measures.

I am proud to be part of Finesse, which supported multiple organizations within the UAE and the GCC with efforts to support these organizations during the trying times of the pandemic. Starting just a decade ago, I have seen Finesse turn from a niche-focused software integrator to a premier enabler of digital transformation in the UAE and the GCC region. Finesse now has over 450 employees of 18 nationalities and serving 400 enterprises globally.

What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the tech industry?
If digitization is the foundation, data will bring in the next round of transformations in the organization.

With more and more companies moving to the cloud, businesses now have a deluge of data that they will need to sift through and find meaningful ways to bring in more value to customers. Once they can mine and monetize real business insights from the data collected, these will bring about major shifts in the ways customers are served. That includes the use of the Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning to provide meaningful experiences to customers.