Welcome to the next feature in our Leaders in Tech editorial series. Speaking to leaders in the industry to capture their stories, career highs and lows, their trials and successes, their current company and their role, most recent projects, advice to others, and the individuals who they most look up to in the industry.
This week, we talked to Othman Baalache, Principal Cloud Architect at the Commercial Bank of Dubai, to find out more about why he joined the tech industry, what his role entails, what are the challenges he faces as a tech leader, and his advice to aspiring engineers and developers.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
I’m a Principal Cloud Architect at the Commercial Bank of Dubai, my responsibility is mainly to drive the Cloud First strategy within the bank to maximize productivity, facilitate digital innovation, increase service reliability and reduce overall IT costs. This includes defining cloud adoption and cost management frameworks, recommending best practices, and acting as subject matter expert for all cloud-related aspects. It is never a dull day acting as a cloud SME!
What was your journey like?
My journey began 14 years ago as a systems analyst for a telecommunication company in the UK, working through the various different specialties within IT. Looking back the changes in the digital industry have been so fast yet so disruptive in a positive way. I remember how strange it felt to switch from traditional IT to IT in the Cloud nevertheless, I’m glad that I did.
What drew you to the tech industry?
It was an influence from my father who was in the industry. I had been reading Java books and experimenting with Java development at the age of 12. I also spent much of my childhood trying to fix my computer Windows 95 PC after causing it to fail!
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
First, I look up to my father who was my first reason, and secondly some of the very smart people whom I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from across the years.
What do you think are the most important qualities of successful tech leaders today?
Some of the important qualities of successful tech leaders are those who share power and place the needs of the employees and colleagues before their own and help others to develop and perform.
As stated by Robert K., “Instead of people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people”.
How do you keep motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
I set goals for myself to achieve and, most importantly, I ensure that I find things that interest me within those goals. This helps me to remain focused. I exercise and treat myself when I accomplish my set goal.
What are your current goals?
Alongside goals to achieve the required transformation at the Commercial Bank of Dubai such as upskilling the internal teams and creating an in-house platform capability, I am working on completing my Ph.D. and expanding my personal investment portfolio.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
I’m most proud of my personal development, and the opportunity I have had and continue to have to work in some of the greatest global organizations and with some of the smartest people.
What is the favorite part of your job?
Seeing the results of transformation in the form of standardization, automated processes, and reliability, and bringing change to environments where traditional and manual processes prevail.
What has been your greatest challenge so far?
One of the greatest challenges has to be bringing digital transformation to an organization whilst ensuring that job insecurity doesn’t become an issue.
What’s the most important risk you took in your career and why?
I have taken several risks in my career where they have been calculated. I had decided to support a cloud platform in-house rather than through a vendor but that was because I believed in my team and I was sure that I would provide the right mentorship to drive the required change and boost the team’s confidence.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
With the right talent, the right tools, and the right mindset, nothing is impossible.
Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring engineers who want to grow in the tech industry?
Innovation is at your fingertips.
Create a free cloud account on Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, or Google GCP to get access to bleeding-edge technology, learn on LinkedIn Learning, and Udemy. These tools and platforms were never available to the previous generation, it is a privilege.