After hours: Shailen Shukla
Arabian Computer News delves below the corporate strategy to find out what really makes the region’s IT leaders tick
How did you come to be in your current role?
I had previously worked in senior positions in large Indian companies such as Reliance, Grasim, Vedanta, Modi Group, and multi-national corporations such as Brightpoint (now Ingram) and TNS. Having worked in large multinationals, I was looking for an opportunity to further develop my experience in international markets.
I had heard many positive things about the Jumbo Group in the UAE. Over the past 40 plus years, the group has built a hugely successful integrated business and has evolved its flagship retail, distribution and trading businesses to offer services under diverse verticals including logistics. It was an amazing opportunity for me to be a part of such an organisation. Over the years, I am proud of the fact that Jumbo Logistics has been the proud recipient of several industry and media awards.
What is your management philosophy?
My management philosophy is the same as Jumbo’s, which is to empower people and give them room to grow. It is important to surround yourself with smart people, and create an environment where they are encouraged to share opinions and take ownership of their actions. Supporting an entrepreneurial mind set, even in a large organisation, helps create a dynamic team.
What was your first computer, and when did you first use it?
Back in the early 1990s, I studied at a leading technology institute in India called NIIT. As a result, at that time I was the only person in my company who knew how to use computers. Those were interesting times! We had only two computers at work, with an impressive (for those days) 256KB RAM and floppy disc storage.
What is your greatest achievement?
Jumbo has taught us how to handle different kinds of situations, including market fluctuations or personal tragedies, and still manage to come out on top. And being at Jumbo one can’t help but realise the importance of relationships at work. I am as proud of my individual achievements as I am of my team’s resilience and resourcefulness.
What is your biggest mistake?
When you love work as much as I do, sometimes it’s natural to get caught up in day-to-day tasks. My biggest mistake is probably neglecting some of my hobbies but, as I grow older, I realise that you do need to also focus on yourself.
What is your fondest memory of working in ME’s IT industry?
Middle East is very receptive to new people. Very soon, I found myself speaking in several conferences on diverse topics, where I was also listening to other amazing speakers and imbibing the collective wisdom so created. It’s a melting pot of cultures. Among many such fond memories and interactions, wining the SCATA award for Jumbo in 2013 under the best Supply Chain category is the fondest.
What technology do you think will have the biggest impact in 2016?
VR and blockchain are two game-changing technologies. While currently VR is marketed more for gaming, it will have far reaching impact across industries such as education, training, content and entertainment, marketing or even healthcare. Similarly, while blockchain is mostly known as the ledger for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, it has the potential to impact many industry sectors and support Dubai’s Smart City ambitions.
Number of years in the industry: 29
Favourite food: Paneer Tikka
Holiday destination: London, where my daughter works!!!
Music: Eric Clapton
Dream car: Mercedes G63
Gadget: PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR
Movie/book: Pretty Woman / Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Piece of advice: Be impatient!