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7 Questions with Nicolas Sophay Oo
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7 Questions with Nicolas Sophay Oo
Name: Nicolas Sophay Oo
Current title: Group Chief Information Officer
Current organisation: ABC-MIB Group
I am working as a Group CIO and holding Swiss Global MBA, B.SC (Hons) Business IT, and several professional certs. My career started as an Intern Graphic Designer when I was 15. I set up a small business, worked as a part time university lecturer in Network and Databases etc.
By 2012, I relocated to Singapore and worked as IT Engineer, Infrastructure Engineer at the Data Centers of Security as well as in a giant Global E-Commerce Corporate (Global Sources). By 2018, I came back to Myanmar then started my life as Operation Manager, IT Project Manager, Head of IT, Vice President of IT Engineering, then CIO.
My life is full of ups and downs, and I hope not only to learn as much as I can from my environment but also to contribute to my communities with my knowledge and experience.
I am now 36 and trying to balance my life for work and family life. Also willing to learn more in the Information Management and Tech field.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Organizational culture, people's mindset, and attitude are the most challenging that I face. Technology is not the famous root cause of challenges.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My life progressed step by step and I started from a very junior level. I always used my resources (time, cash, brain) to learn and to study. Never hesitate to accept a challenge or a role if there is an opportunity, even if there is a slim chance.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I start my morning with draft planning for "what I am going to do today!!" I mostly talk with my colleagues, inter-department people, outsiders, and read news sometimes. I walked a bit around the office or my home after lunch or small break-time. Before I start my daily job, normally, I do check my inbox and messages, not to miss the importance. Before I leave the office, I check again the message, daily work-done, and after 5 pm, I enjoy my time by doing some physical exercise. I read some news by 7 pm followed by dinner with my wife, then meditate sometimes. And I normally sleep by 11:30 PM. That's my daily routine.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Being a leader is better than a title of "Manager" or something. Recently, I learned "Transformational Leadership" rather than other lessons, yes, in a real scenario.
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?
Organizational Behavior (15ed) by Stephen P. Robbins | Timothy A. Judge. After I studied that book, I felt that something enlightened me about management and leadership style. And real leadership doesn't mean that I have to be smart in every area. I just have to know how to negotiate, how many handle organizational politics, how to deal with difficult people, and it is extremely useful. Well, I was in a Tech-oriented life and weak in other aspects of an organization. I read that book for MBA study, then I realized that I have to face and solve everything as much as I can. Then my leadership changed slowly from hard style to negotiation. I didn't expect that I could be handling much with my current role, Group CIO, but now I have my confidence and I feel that this is a good fit for me, this is the true story.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Communication!. Listen to everyone's voice first. Listen with sympathy and empathy, and without bias. Attention to every detail and talk for what should be. I mostly build leadership capacity with soft skills and try to negotiate for most. Based on the concept of vice versa, I have to give something to another party in return for something that I want.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
Due to COVID and major instabilities in politics of my country, Myanmar, it hits our economy sector worst. The organization that I am working for decided to minimize, to cut-cost, to reduce the opex such as salaries. We discussed internally, in CIO's team, then we decided to share the resources, the salaries, rather than retrenchment of employees. We will keep it that way as much as we can. I feel that this is a meaningful story of humanity, sympathy, empathy, and "sharing is caring".