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7 Questions with Prince Joseph
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7 Questions with Prince Joseph
Name: Prince Joseph
Current title: CIO
Current organisation: SFO Technologies
Prince Joseph brings over 2 decades of varied industry experience in leading all aspects of IT, including strategy, architecture, cyber security and digital transformation. He is presently the Group CIO of SFO Technologies and previously held similar roles at NTC Logistics, ISYX Technologies. Prior to that he was the Business IT Head at Emirates for Travel, Tours, Hospitality and Leisure divisions.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
From my experience, the most challenging aspect I have found in large enterprises is related to accountability and a true sense of ownership. It is easy to start creating your own little empires and building silos which ultimately hurts the overall organisation. The strategy drive is slowed down and costs creep up and mistrust and latency is added. Building a fully cohesive leadership team that pulls in the same direction is the ultimate challenge. When leaders start owning the overall business strategy and when that trickles down to their subordinates and a culture is established, we then have a success criteria met.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I graduated in engineering and gained foundational and advanced technical and analytical skills, and enhanced this with finance and economics and business knowledge. From the first job I was keen to learn the business processes and then moved to ensure a firm foundation in technology blocks. This period of the career was all about learning, delivering, getting the hands dirty and exciting to be on the front lines and on call. I proceeded to focus more then on overall leadership and delivering results that were of strategic importance to the organisation. This required a focus on soft skills and communication and people management. I got an opportunity to take the reins of a new business venture and drive the delivery and executed it successfully and in the process gained a lot of confidence and appreciation setting me up for similar new challenges. As the network and contacts also grew, the experiences of working in a multicultural, fast paced , industry leading enterprise helped a great deal in building my credentials and also developing the skills needed to manage senior stakeholders and the board.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I believe the success of the day begins the day before. I am a great believer in preparation and I can vouch that any successful outcome has been possible with sufficient preparation and homework. I always have 3 items I put down as things to complete the next day, I may do this in the evening, but certainly before going to bed. Instead of giving me poor sleep, this gives me a sense of purpose for tomorrow and something to look forward to. The typical work day's first hour and a half is meeting free and that is for me to clear my deck, respond to emails, initiate and follow up on my projects and push my day's agenda. After this, the business meetings, reviews, Board reporting and updates , supplier/customer discussions take up the majority of the day and before close of play ideally the top three of last night are ticked off and a new three created in the mind. Around lunch time, I also try to sneak in some reading on topics of interest , in technology, innovation, human interest stories, management. These days, i have also taken to audiobooks while driving to and from work which is a great alternative to just radio or music.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I look back at my life and its courses, there were so many turning points and had i taken another option, I would have probably ended up elsewhere. The journey was not always one of success, there were quite a few things that failed, a couple that were disasters, but the most important lesson for me has been to 'not keep your mouth shut'. Speak, Ask, this is always a start, if you are coming from a place where the heart is in the right place, your attitude is positive, you should have the courage to go and speak about issues, about requirements, about challenges , about a raise, about anything you are shying away from because it is a difficult conversation. Things have a way of falling into place, no one is here to destroy all the effort and good work, and some trust in that will take you far and help you bridge the gaps. The person who can speak up, also gives confidence to the team to deliver a higher performance.
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?
It is always the simplest things that could have profound implications, and Atomic Habits by James Clear is one book that has resonated with me perfectly. The concept of small changes that can have a cumulative impact especially when you finally break through the Plateau of Latent Potential, and achieve what people call overnight success. It is a massive truth that tests patience, resilience and requires incredible self discipline where believing that a 1% improvement on a daily basis will count for a lot in the long run. The call is not for leaps but small incremental steps, so it is not hard or impossible, but rather slow and deliberate.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I believe technology is the great leveler and its ubiquitous nature makes it available to everyone. The best way to build leadership capacity is by exploiting the digital communication channels to spread the right messages, reinforce and reiterate the organization's strategy and direction , nudging the right behavior by allowing a seamless feedback loop and always keeping your eyes and ears open to listen to the voice of the customer, supplier and employees. Leaders can be developed on all levels of the hierarchy and it's important to bust the myth that leaders are only the heads or managers. An established Culture also thaws and adapts when faced by the right application of digital collaboration and open work spaces. A team that is geared towards business improvement and empowered to drive adoption of new technology, processes and changes will have a multiplier effect and enhance the leadership capacity at all levels because they are able to see the increased value and contribution. .
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
It is easy to speak of great success, but in my mind it is infinitely more meaningful to never forget the failures. They make you appreciate all successes irrespective of size. When a major transformational program, where considerable capital investment had been made and the project flounders with no possibility to salvage. When a project deemed too important to fail has to be declared a failure, you are at crossroads and face is a career defining moment, The primary focus of the whole organisation and intended to create the modern foundation for the next decade went sideways and created a platform that just could not be used, and trying to save it meant investing as much more, there was no easy discussion possible wit the board. In such a scenario to make the recommendation to abort and cut our losses and to take a fresh more realistic approach with an alternate less ambitious plan was an unforgettable event. This story had more participants, much courage and commitment was demonstrated and the integrity with which it was presented provided a second chance and an approval to proceed with the alternate table. Over time this proved to be wise and with careful execution the less disruptive approach yielded results that justified the approach and vindicated everyone involved.