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Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with

M. Eqbal Al-Quran

helps you in your leadership.

M. Eqbal Al-Quran

M. Eqbal Al-Quran

Name: M. Eqbal Al-Quran

Title: CTO

Organisation: MRSOOL

As the Chief Technology Officer at Mrsool, I'm helping to reshape the food delivery landscape with innovative, on-demand service. Alongside a dynamic team of over 100 engineers, we're transforming how people experience food delivery.

Throughout my career, I've been passionate about leveraging technology to tackle complex business challenges and drive meaningful change. I believe that the key to successful leadership lies in building strong relationships, fostering open communication, and cultivating a culture of innovation. I have a knack for making sense of intricate challenges and charting a clear path forward for my team.

With a broad range of technical expertise under my belt, I've engaged with everything from front-end and back-end development to data science, machine learning, and blockchain. I love exploring new horizons and am always eager to learn and grow.

Above all, I believe in the power of collaboration. I'm always open to sharing ideas, gaining fresh perspectives, and building lasting partnerships. So if you're interested in discussing technology, innovation, or the future of food delivery, feel free to reach out. Let's connect and make a difference together!

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most challenging aspect of leadership for me? It's like choosing between debugging a stubborn piece of code and a double espresso. Both are tricky but necessary for survival in our tech landscape. However, if I were to pick one, it's realizing that managing people isn't as straightforward as managing code. With code, you write, you compile, you get expected results (most of the time!). People, on the other hand, are wonderfully complex. They don't come with instruction manuals and don't always react the way you expect. And then there's the art of active listening - it's like trying to catch a fly with chopsticks, difficult but not impossible. It takes time to truly understand and effectively respond to the needs of your team, but it's a skill that's worth its weight in gold...or bitcoin!

Another challenging aspect I've found as a leader is mastering the art of patience. In our fast-paced tech world, it's tempting to want immediate results. But Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a bug-free, user-friendly app! It's a constant balancing act between pushing for progress and understanding that great things often take time. And let's not forget, a good coffee machine is essential when the code refuses to cooperate!

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My journey to leadership began with a simple cup of coffee, well, technically a lot of coffee, and an insatiable curiosity for all things tech. My early days were spent trying to crack codes and create software. As I navigated through different roles, I discovered that my passion for technology was matched only by my enthusiasm for working with people.

There was a moment that really stands out, during a particularly gruelling project. We were racing against the clock, our code was misbehaving, and the coffee machine had chosen that exact moment to go on strike. Instead of a meltdown, my team and I rallied. We worked together, solved problems, shared terrible jokes, and even managed to fix the coffee machine. That experience was a turning point. I realized that it was not just about the code or the coffee, but about the people.

I found myself naturally stepping into a leadership role, guiding my team through challenges, and ensuring everyone had their fair share of laughs and lattes. From then on, my leadership journey has been about combining my love for technology with my passion for people. It's about guiding, listening. Because a team that codes together, stays together. And a team that laughs together, grows together.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Well, my day usually starts with an alarm that has a mind of its own and loves the snooze button as much as I do. After a brief battle, I finally make peace with the morning and start my day. My first stop? The kitchen, where I brew a pot of strong coffee - my secret to decoding the mysteries of the universe, or at least, the code I'll be wrestling with that day.

With coffee in hand, I dive into the world of GitHub. It's like a morning newspaper, but instead of headlines, I've got pull requests and code to review. This is my quiet time, a chance to start my day with some tech inspiration before the real action begins.

Next up, I connect with my team leads. We have our daily huddle, a sort of tech powwow where we align our priorities, share updates, and occasionally, exchange the latest tech puns. It's like a well-oiled machine, with a dash of humor.

The rest of my day is a medley of meetings, brainstorming sessions, and occasionally, quelling code rebellions. I make sure to take breaks, catch up on industry news, and if I'm lucky, squeeze in a quick TED Talk.

As evening sets in, I switch gears from team management to self-improvement. I might pick up a new book, work on a side project, or explore the latest tech trends. And of course, there's always time for some Netflix or a good movie.

Before calling it a night, I reflect on the day, plan for tomorrow, and make a mental note to convince the alarm that we can be friends. And then it's lights out, ready to do it all over again. After all, code never sleeps, and neither does a CTO!

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I'll share two lessons and hopefully you'll find it useful:

- The Accidental Email Cc": In the chaos of a busy day, I accidentally included a team member on an email thread that was meant only for management. It turned out to be a happy accident. The team member's input was invaluable and it reminded me that good ideas can come from anywhere in the organization. The lesson? Inclusion breeds innovation.

- "The Magic of the 'Silent Minute'": I recently introduced a 'silent minute' at the beginning of our brainstorming sessions, where everyone takes a minute to think before we dive into discussion. It was astonishing to see the quality of ideas that came out. It reminded me that great leadership often means stepping back and creating space for others to think and contribute.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

- "Good to Great" by Jim Collins: I've always thought that going from good to great was about making a single giant leap. This book taught me otherwise. It's not about the leap, but about the disciplined, consistent steps you take every day. It's like refactoring code - it's not about a complete overhaul, but about small, consistent improvements that make the system more efficient. This book has been instrumental in shaping my leadership philosophy around continuous improvement and the power of disciplined consistency.

- "Working Backwards" by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr: Reading this book was like getting a sneak peek into Amazon's secret leadership lab. The concept of working backwards - starting with the customer and then developing the product - was a game-changer for me. It helped me shift my focus from merely creating innovative tech solutions to creating solutions that truly meet our customers' needs. Now, whether I'm troubleshooting code or strategizing growth, I always start with the end-user in mind. This book has truly transformed the way I lead and innovate.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Hmm I'll give more than one.

- "Be Like a Sponge": My advice? Be like a sponge. Absorb everything you can - knowledge, feedback, experiences. Don't just strive to be the smartest in the room; strive to learn from everyone in the room. Remember, even a broken clock is right twice a day!

- "Leadership is a Lot Like Jazz": Leadership is a lot like jazz. It's all about improvisation, knowing when to take the lead, and when to step back and let others shine. The music is sweetest when everyone contributes to the melody.

- "Don't Forget to Refuel": Leadership can be like a long road trip. It's exciting, demanding, and you're in the driver's seat. But remember, even the best car can't run on an empty tank. Don't forget to take care of yourself, refuel, and enjoy the journey. After all, what's a road trip without a few good pit stops?

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

"Code, Coffee, and the Unlikely Hero": It was crunch time at Mrsool, with a major product launch looming on the horizon. The tech team was buzzing like a well-oiled machine, and the office was filled with the aroma of strong coffee and the sound of feverish typing.

Then, out of nowhere, our code repository crashed. It was the equivalent of a chef losing all their ingredients halfway through a cooking show. Panic ensued, stress levels skyrocketed, and the coffee machine was working overtime. Enter Ahmed, our newest intern, fresh out of college with a sparkle in his eyes and an infectious enthusiasm. Seeing the chaos, Ahmed stepped up.

He suggested a solution, a different approach to restore the repository that he had learned in a recent class. Honestly, we were skeptical. But with the clock ticking, we decided to give it a shot. Ahmed led the way, his fingers flying over the keyboard as the rest of us watched with bated breath. It was like watching a conductor lead an orchestra, only with more syntax and fewer violins.

Slowly but surely, our repository came back to life. Ahmed had saved the day. The launch went ahead as planned, and we even managed to finish the mountain of pizza we'd ordered. That day, Ahmed reminded us of a vital lesson: that everyone on a team, no matter how junior or inexperienced, can make a significant contribution.

That incident didn't just restore our code; it reinforced our faith in the power of diverse teams and fresh perspectives. It's a story that still gets told whenever a new member joins our team, usually over cups of coffee and slices of pizza.

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