Financial times

The top men in networking reveal their secrets for success. Faisal Eledath, CIO of Dubai Bank provides his views.

Tags: Dubai BankUnited Arab Emirates
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Financial times
By  Imthishan Giado Published  October 13, 2010

The top men in networking reveal their secrets for success. Faisal Eledath, CIO of Dubai Bank.

What is your career progression to date?

I joined Mashreq Bank as a programmer and I was with them for 13 years. In my last position there, I was responsible for the IT strategy within the bank. I also lead the spinoff of Mashreq Bank’s IT as a profit centre as well as helping in establishing the outsourcing. I came from the trenches if you will and was there for quite some time.

Then I joined Dubai Bank four years back as a CIO. I report to the CEO. The way I look at it, it’s not been so much in terms of the titles. That may seem like a cliché, but the yardstick that I use is, is my team or I really impacting the business? I truly believe that if you focus on that, the remaining things just come about.

What would you describe as your finest achievement in your career so far?

The recognition that IT is seen as a strategic strength of Dubai Bank consistently for the last three years is a reinforcement that the vision that we had embarked upon is materialising. In order for that, there are a whole host of things that have to be done, but ultimately that marks whether we are headed in the right direction or not.
Our Kalimah, if you will, is to be a key enabler for the business strategy.

What drives you towards excellence in IT?

For me, if Dubai Bank can see IT as a key differentiator and a strategic asset. Anything that I have to do to achieve that drives me. This is reflected in our vision and mission.

Given the option, what choice would you have made differently in your career?

I’ve taken few risks in my career. When I look back, those were all defining moments, including when I changed to this job, or deciding to stick on here later. I don’t like doing a half job.

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you in technology thus far?

Quite a lot of people – some of them were my earlier bosses. The previous CEO was another while the current CEO is definitely a good inspiration. I learn a lot from my people.

What emerging technology do you think will have the biggest impact in IT?

Mobility is going to become extremely important, I can see that happening for the new generation. If you just look at the last 24 months, the prominence of mobile devices has totally changed the way you do work, how customers do banking.

Now I can see the proliferation of these kinds of things into the business environment. Take mobile CRM as a an example – one of the initiatives that we have internally is that for the segments, how can we engage with them in a whole different way in helping them decide what they would like to invest in? You could not have done that in the past but those opportunities are very powerful enough.

Security is going to be a big issue. It already is; while some of these technologies are extremely powerful, the negative side effect is also immensely powerful. For instance, I read someplace that the revenues earned through illicit business over the net has exceeded the drug business – so the motivation for organised crime is going to be extremely high.

Outside of the office, what is your foremost passion?

I read a lot. It’s mostly non-fiction. YouTube is something which I spend quite a lot of time on, especially being in Dubai. Earlier the traffic used to be quite bad, so I used a lot to audiobooks as well. I enjoy that sort of things. Other than that, I enjoy movies, spending time with my kids, the usual kind of stuff.

What advice would you give to young professionals seeking to achieve the CIO position one day?

Focus on generating value. This is what I tell everybody, these are the earlier lessons that I learnt. Don’t chase salary or titles; just focus on generating value and the others will come. Ultimately we don’t exist here to put in a system for the sake of putting in a system. You have to correlate with other things and try to tie it up with what the context is for the business. Once you generate value, it’s more rewarding. Everything else that you traditionally seek will just come.

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