After Hours: Hassan Al Naqbi
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 have spent over half of my career in the ICT industry, with more than 10 years within the telecom sector. I have been fortunate to work in two business startups, the first with a fully integrated telecom operator providing new and upcoming services to customers in the UAE. The second startup allowed me to experience creating an ecosystem and a marketplace of international carriers, enterprises, content delivery networks, internet and OTT players.
What is your management philosophy?
The ICT industry requires the management of high performing individuals, so I believe in creating an atmosphere that provides challenging goals but also nurtures, with a clear direction and career path. I emphasise teamwork, knowledge sharing and independent thinking through empowerment and delegation. I am always open to new ideas from the team, and I frequently work with them to form new business objectives that will support the growth of Khazna.
What was your first computer, and when did you first use it?
My very first PC was a ‘Sakhr computer’.
What is your greatest achievement?
I was part of a small team forming the management of a business startup and I was tasked to come up with a technology roadmap and business plan that could promote ourselves and attract new clientele. The idea of the business was to create a data transit hub, so I established an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) that allowed the ecosystem we were building to interconnect and exchange traffic seamlessly. I was responsible for setting up, branding and promoting what is now known as the UAE Internet Exchange, a carrier neutral platform that is considered the biggest Internet Exchange in the Middle East and North Africa region and managed by DE-CIX.
What was the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?
Part of my earlier responsibilities as a service management director was to manage outage blackouts and connectivity. The biggest challenge we had back then, as a new operator, was the lack of alternative routes in our sub-marine cable systems linking the UAE with Europe.
In 2008 we suffered multiple sub-marine cable cuts that disrupted all of our international services. I had to create a disaster recovery plan to find a way to restore our services. I was able to reach out to my network of relations within the international carriers and sub-marine provider community. From here, I managed to find and lease alternative routes on a temporary basis that helped us restore the traffic and all services within four to six hours. This achievement was a great deal for the company not only to mitigate against the bottom line, but also, as a new startup, the reputational damage could have been too much to overcome.
What is your fondest memory of working in the Middle East industry?
My fondest memory has been working with regional operators and understanding the challenges each has within its own territory.
What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the market in 2017?
I think cloud computing is still dominating the market. I doubt that there will be another technology with the same impact anytime soon.
How do you deal with stress?
Meditation and yoga are two of the most effective ways for me to deal with stress. I highly recommend it.
Number of years in the industry: 12 years
Favourite food: I have been following a very strict raw food and vegan diet for five months now, so I eat a lot of organic fruits, vegetables and nuts
Holiday destination: I like to spend my summer in the south of Italy in a region called Salento
Dream car: Ferrari
Gadget: If I’m allowed to list bigger gadgets and toys, this would have to be sport cars
Movie/book: The Zahir by Paulo Coelho