After Hours: Cherif Sleiman
Cherif Sleiman, general manager for the Middle East at Infoblox
Arabian Computer News delves below the corporate strategy to understand what really makes the region’s IT leaders tick.
Number of years in the industry: Over 20
Favourite food: Thai
Holiday destination: Hawaii
Music: Nickelback and Maroon 5
Dream car: Ferrari
Gadget: Portable mobile power charger
Movie/book: Casablanca and Serendipity are amongst my top favourite movies. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is my favourite book
Piece of advice: It is better to make 10 decisions where some are wrong than not making any decisions out of fear of failure.
How did you end up where you are now?
I have more than 20 years of sales, technical and business experience in some of the world’s leading networking and telecommunications technology companies. I have held key executive roles including chief operating officer and chief technology officer at Core Communications, a software and IT services company focused on cloud-based business services and web and mobile apps. I spent more than six years at Cisco in various leadership positions, the last being senior director, where I led the Enterprise and Advanced Technologies business for Middle East and Africa. I also developed the strategic vision and technology roadmaps and managed all aspects of R&D for Nortel Networks in my role as CTO, Enterprise Business Unit. Other roles were at Kodak and AT&T with software development responsibilities.
What is your management philosophy?
Take care of people and they take care of the business.
What was your first computer, and when did you first use it?
The IBM AT 386. I used it when I entered college.
What is your greatest achievement?
Growing the Advanced Technologies Business for Cisco Systems from $98 million to $890 million in six years.
What is your biggest mistake?
All mistakes seem big when we first make them. Learning from our mistakes has a way of diminishing their impact. I have made many mistakes, but I would say that hiring the wrong people early on in my career would be the one that stands out.
What is your fondest memory of working in the Middle East IT industry?
The advent of networking. As a software developer at Kodak, using TCP/IP sockets for the first time and realising that programs that are located in various locations can connect across some thing called “the network” to process common tasks was the trigger for me to change career focus.
What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the market in 2015?
I believe that Domain Name System (DNS) security technology will definitely be right at the top of every CIO’s priority list in 2015. DNS security is an area that regional organisations will start paying greater attention to as they begin to understand the damaging consequences of inadequate security measures. DNS is a foundational Internet technology used in every non-trivial IP-based transaction. If DNS is not working properly, Internet transactions can grind to a halt, leading to disastrous results including lost revenue due to downtime, diminished customer satisfaction and lost productivity.
What’s the best way to deal with stress?
I am an outdoors person. I find the best way to de-stress is to spend time on the beach, play basketball and tennis. I also love watching movies.