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7 Questions with Sharifur Rahman

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7 Questions with Sharifur Rahman

Name: Md. Sharifur Rahman

Current title: Chief Executive Officer

Current organisation: Skillhutch Limited

Age: 38 Years

Previous Organizations: Asian Development Bank, Robi Axiata Limited, Grameenphone Limited, Banglalink Digital Communications Limited, Huawei Technologies Limited.

Academic record: M.Sc. in computer science, B.Sc. in computer engineering, MBA My current position is Chief Executive Officer at Skillhutch Limited. Skillhutch is a technology based service company which provides one stop solution in IT, Marketing, Sales to other companies and individuals to do their business. We are currently focusing on helping organizations with our digital services.

Here my responsibilities are:

• To establish high-quality business strategy and plans to match them with the company's short-term and long-term targets.

• To lead and encourage subordinates to promote employee engagement by building a high-performing management team.

• To track all operations and company activities to ensure that they achieve the desired outcomes and comply with the overall plan and mission.

• To make high-quality investment decisions to drive the company forward and raise income.

Before joining my current position in the space of 15 years my major contributing companies are mostly in the Telecommunication industry. I worked for three mobile network service operators and one Telecom vendor. I have contributed to building mobile networks in all mobile of Bangladesh and two operators of Thailand and Bhutan. My role included both qualitative and quantitative targets which involved both engineering and financial targets. As delivery project stakeholder, I was involved in bidding, budget preparation and controlling project expenses according to budget along with managing huge work forces throughout the whole country. I have experience in managing over 200 people directly and indirectly from multiple departments and various countries.

In my student life I have achieved lots of recognition along with the Vice Chancellor's award and gold medals for highest academic standing. In my professional career I also got lots of awards along with gold medals from Huawei Technologies Limited for excellent professional performance. I have some popular publications in world’s top rated journals like springer.

7 Questions with Sharifur Rahman

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1. What have you found most challenging as a board member?

I took charge of CEO at the time of Covid-19. Therefore my challenge was different from other CEOs of other times. Expectation and technology awareness of the board of directors were two most challenging factors. Before taking this responsibility I used to work in one of the world’s most technologically advanced companies where my subordinates were also similarly high-tech guys and highly paid for their knowledge base. I was in the director position and had padding on both sides of the management ladder. Especially CXOs over me who had technology awareness to some extent. I could transfer my thoughts to my both sides without much changing its form and intensity. Here as CEO I had difficulties to transfer my technology thoughts to the board of directors or stakeholders. They had high expectations of rapid profit gain however the Covit-19 situation changed the whole world. Natural mode of work process has changed in the time and health safety was the main concern to all. So, I had to change the human oriented process to a less human involved process. Here I had to take help of technology more than ever. Here comes a new investment requirement in technology which was too difficult to make understandable to no-tech board members.

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

I started work from my university life. I used to work as a part-timer in Asian Development Bank’s project. From that time I had to lead teams of low level work force. After graduation I joined Robi which was called AKTEL that time. It was the third largest mobile phone operator company of the country at that time. After that I worked for Grameenphone and Banglalink for nine years. These were two biggest telecom operators of the country. I started there as an entry level engineer and got promoted to mid-high level engineering post. I was privileged to learn corporate culture and got lots of technical and managerial training which were too expensive to effort for small companies. I also had the privilege to practice my knowledge freely in the country's biggest and top rated companies. There I had a lot of resources to use and many work forces to realize my plan. The result came upfront and rapidly. I was equally praised with many awards and recognitions. My personal feeling is - if I could not work in big organizations, I could not get opportunity to perform my activities with authority. I also had a better chance to practice new thoughts freely as the mobile network was very new at that time and we were the first testers of most of the technologies at that time. There were very few people to dictate. Leaving the Operator Company I joined Huawei Technologies Limited which was the biggest telecom equipment manufacturing company of that time. Here also I got the opportunity to get the best training from the world's best trainers of technical and management training. Here also I was equally praised and awarded for professional achievements. I led some of the country’s most advanced technological change projects like - 2G to 3G and 3G to 4G transformations of mobile networks and successfully finished those projects on time. These achievements and recognitions introduced me to other rival companies, which eventually converted to offer me better job positions. I chose Skillhutch to lead the company as CEO.

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

From my childhood I always made a routine for my work. I try to divide my tasks into segments and allocate time frames for all the task modules. I try to maintain these time frames strictly. Sometimes my family and friends call me a robot for my repetitive daily routine. However I feel this is good practice as I do not have to think of regular works that much. It is done naturally as per its schedule. I wake up early in the morning. This gives me plenty of time to do work. In the morning after taking a wash I finish my prayer and take breakfast. After that I used to watch youtube videos for recent news, documentaries and activities around us for 30 minutes. By this time I finished my first cup of coffee. After this I sit quietly for 10-15 minutes to fix the timing of my scheduled work of the day and make a list of things to do on my phone so that I do not miss any task.

I drive to my office and have morning meetings with my subordinate managers to learn about their task list and schedule. It’s a short meeting of at best 15 minutes. After the meeting I become busy with my official tasks. I used to take lunch at 2 PM. After lunch and prayer I finish my writing tasks, mail communications and official meetings. In the evening I sit with my employees to take note of their work progress of the day and give them necessary instructions for next day's work. After the 30 minutes meeting I usually make a plan of macro level targets of the company and sub divide it into small tasks. I always fix land-marks and their achievement dates. This plan is noted in my official diary so that I have a clear understanding of the deadlines of tasks.

I leave the office at 8 PM after releasing all employees. It’s a practice I have had for the last 10 years so that employees have feelings that their boss works for the longest hours. It takes 1 hour to reach home from my office. After returning home I usually sit with my son and solve geography puzzles. Sometimes I with my child watch good movies from Netflix, prime video or watch good youtube documentaries. My wife also gives us companions at this time. After taking lunch I usually browse websites to get knowledge of new inventions and new technological advancements use their implications. I am a gadget freak. So, I like comparison videos of the latest gadgets. I am not so much regular on facebook however I used to browse facebook feeds to learn about news and friends’ status. I usually go to sleep at 12 AM. I avoid keeping my mobile phone near me while sleeping. On holidays I prefer to drive with my family to new places. Photography is my hobby. So, I take photos during the holidays.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Always discuss your subordinates’ daily activities and progress at the close of business. Try to keep yourself in their position and think how you would solve any issue they faced today. If required, give necessary instructions to them to help them finish the task in a way that does not take authority of their works from them. Take a log of their works daily, not even weekly. Always keep yourself notified about the company's daily progress.

5. What are some of the keys to doing governance well in a organisation?

1. Keep track of daily activities of your subordinates.

2. Do not take authority from your subordinates.

3. Always be punctual and make yourself a good example to your subordinates.

4. Share company goals to employees regularly and take their views.

5. Always keep track of works in written form.

6. How do you differentiate between the role of board member and the roles of CEO or executive team member of a organisation?

In my case I am a board member and also CEO. However there is a difference in these two roles. The CEO focuses on details and board members focus on macro level targets.

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

In Covit-19 situation we tried to support our employees in health issues and in reply to that they also finished their task with care working from home with care and sincerity. Here we have learned, if you care about your employees; they will care about your company.