top of page

7 Questions on Leadership with Ahmed Karam


Name:  Ahmed Karam


Title: Partner


Organisation: Rubix Consulting


Overview

Mr. Ahmed Karam works as one of the Digital Transformation Sector leaders in the Kingdom and MENA, he has more than 30 years of experience in major local and international government agencies, and in global consulting firms such as (Parsons Corporation), and local such as (Yesser Consulting Group), and a shareholder in The renaissance of government digital transformation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and he received a shield of thanks and appreciation from His Excellency the Saudi Minister of MOMRA and Housing for contributing to the development of digital transformation processes.


Member of the Friends of Strategy Initiative that supports the strategic concept of the National Vision 2030 Received a shield of thanks and appreciation and appreciation from His Excellency the Minister of MOMRA for excellence in the digital transformation processes at the Ministry Extensive experience leading technology-specific operations and digital business transformation for government entities.


For nearly three decades, he has been providing practical solutions that engage executive management and diverse teams at all levels.


An executive-level consultant, with advanced and diversified skills that include strategic planning, planning and developing IT strategies, digital transformation, institutional architecture, information infrastructure library, governance, quality systems, information security, and project management, with a specialization in providing IT solutions that achieve optimal value for the work of large corporations and bodies.


Balanced combines a high level of technical knowledge and an accurate awareness of facts and commercial aspects, with reliance on communication and persuasion skills in adapting both sides in an excellent manner at the executive level and in building and motivating work teams that are within the scope of tasks and responsibilities.


Interested in large-scale business transformation with core expertise including using service architecture methodologies to ensure fit between business and IT strategies.


Has the ability to quickly absorb, put into practice and use new business ideas and technical knowledge to play a pivotal role in the success of the organizations he has joined.


Has a good understanding of the inconsistencies and potential barriers between technical challenges, structural knowledge and commercial realities that can provide direction and guidance at critical stages in business transformation programs.


Has leadership, problem-solving skills including managing, developing and motivating business sector managers in order to achieve the goals of each unit and then achieve strategic corporate goals.


Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Ahmed's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



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


Leaders face various challenges, and the most significant ones can vary depending on the context, industry, and individual circumstances. However, here is some challenges that I faced as a leader include:


1- Decision-making: Leaders are frequently required to make tough decisions that can have significant consequences for their teams or organizations.


2- Communication: Effectively conveying information and ensuring that the team understands the vision, goals, and expectations can be challenging.


3- Change management: Leading through organizational changes or transitions can be difficult, as it requires managing resistance and ensuring a smooth adaptation.


4- Time management: Balancing numerous responsibilities and tasks while prioritizing important matters is a constant challenge for leaders.


5- Team dynamics: Building and maintaining a cohesive and productive team can be challenging, especially when dealing with diverse personalities and working styles.


6- Adaptability: Leaders need to be adaptable in the face of rapidly changing environments, technologies, and markets.


7- Conflict resolution: Addressing conflicts within the team or between team members requires effective communication and problem-solving skills.


8- Motivation and morale: Keeping team members motivated and maintaining high morale is crucial for productivity and overall success.


9- Talent development: Identifying and nurturing talent within the team, as well as providing opportunities for professional growth, is a continuous challenge.


10- Ethical decision-making: Leaders often face ethical dilemmas and must navigate situations where the right course of action may not be immediately clear.


"Leadership is a complex and dynamic role, and effective leaders must continually develop their skills to navigate these challenges successfully."


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


Becoming a digital transformation leader is a long story involves a combination of strategic planning, skill development, and fostering the right mindset. Here are some key steps and considerations that describe my journey:


1. Understand the Digital Landscape:

• Stay informed about emerging technologies and trends in digital transformation.

• Develop a deep understanding of how digital technologies can impact the organization and industry.


2. Continuous Learning:

• Encourage a culture of continuous learning and development.

• Provide access to training programs, workshops, and resources focused on digital technologies, leadership, and change management.


3. Strategic Vision:

• Develop a clear and compelling vision for digital transformation aligned with the organization's goals.

• Communicate the vision effectively to inspire and align the team.


4. Change Management Skills:

• Equip leaders with strong change management skills to navigate the complexities of digital transformation.

• Foster adaptability and resilience in the face of organizational change.


5. Cross-functional Collaboration:

• Facilitate collaboration between different departments and teams to break down silos.

• Encourage a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing.


6. Data-Driven Decision-Making:

• Promote the use of data and analytics to drive decision-making.

• Ensure that leaders understand the value of data in shaping strategies and operations.


7. Customer-Centric Approach:

• Emphasize the importance of a customer-centric mindset.

• Encourage leaders to focus on improving customer experiences through digital initiatives.


8. Innovation Culture:

• Foster a culture of innovation by promoting creativity and experimentation.

• Recognize and reward innovative ideas and solutions.


9. Networking and Industry Involvement:

• Encourage leaders to participate in industry events, conferences, and forums.

• Facilitate networking opportunities for leaders to connect with peers and stay abreast of industry best practices.


10. Digital Leadership Competencies:

• Identify and develop specific digital leadership competencies, such as digital literacy, strategic thinking, and the ability to drive innovation.


11. Responsible Leadership:

• Instill a sense of responsibility and ethics in digital leadership, emphasizing the importance of ethical practices in technology and data usage.


12. Measurable Outcomes:

• Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure the success of digital transformation initiatives.

• Regularly review and adjust strategies based on outcomes and feedback.


13. Mentorship and Coaching:

• Provide mentorship programs and coaching to support leaders in their development.

• Connect emerging leaders with experienced mentors who can share insights and guidance.


"By combining these elements, organizations can cultivate leaders who are well-equipped to lead successful digital transformations, driving innovation, adaptability, and positive outcomes for the organization and its stakeholders."


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


Morning:

1. Early Wake-Up: I prefer to wake up early, often between 4:00 AM and 6:00 AM to pray and start my day.


2. Morning Routine: Establishing a morning routine can set a positive tone for the day. This may include activities like exercise, meditation, reading, or spending time with family.


3. Strategic Planning: Dedicate the early morning hours to strategic planning, goal-setting, and reviewing priorities for the day.


4. Email and Communication: Check and respond to essential emails and messages to stay informed about any overnight developments.


Midday:

5. Focused Work: Use the mid-morning and early afternoon for focused, deep work on critical projects or tasks that require concentration.


6. Lunch and Breaks: Take a break for lunch and use this time to recharge. Sometimes I use this opportunity for networking, casual conversations, or exercise.


7. Meetings and Collaboration: Schedule meetings and collaborative work during the midday when energy levels tend to be higher.


Afternoon:

8. Administrative Tasks: Use the late afternoon for less demanding tasks, such as administrative work, responding to non-urgent emails, or reviewing progress on ongoing projects.


9. Strategic Meetings: Schedule strategic and decision-making meetings during this time, leveraging the peak energy levels.


Evening:

10. Family Time: Dedicate time to family, personal activities, or hobbies in the early evening.


11. Email and Wrap-Up: Check and respond to any final emails. Summarize the day's accomplishments and create a to-do list for the next day.


12. Relaxation: Wind down in the evening with activities like reading, watching a movie, or spending quality time with loved ones.


Night:

13. Preparation for the Next Day: Review the schedule for the following day, prioritize tasks, and set goals for the next morning.


14. Sleep: Aim for a consistent and sufficient amount of sleep to ensure mental and physical well-being.


"The key is to create a schedule that aligns with your energy levels, priorities, and the nature of your work. Flexibility is crucial, as unexpected events may arise, and the ability to adapt is a valuable leadership skill."


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


1. Adaptability is Key: The ability to adapt to change is crucial for leaders. Recent times have emphasized the importance of being flexible, resilient, and ready to pivot strategies in response to unforeseen circumstances.


2. Empathy Matters: The ongoing focus on mental health and well-being has reinforced the importance of empathy in leadership. Leaders who show understanding and compassion towards their team members tend to foster a more positive and supportive work environment.


3. Remote Leadership Challenges: With the rise of remote work, leaders have had to navigate new challenges related to communication, team collaboration, and maintaining a sense of connection among team members. Finding effective ways to lead in a remote or hybrid work environment has become a significant leadership lesson.


4. Inclusivity and Diversity: There's an increased awareness of the importance of fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces. Leaders are learning the value of creating environments where individuals from different backgrounds feel heard, valued, and included.


5. Digital Leadership Skills: The acceleration of digital transformation has highlighted the need for leaders to enhance their digital literacy. Understanding and leveraging technology is essential for effective leadership in the modern workplace.


6. Balancing Well-Being and Productivity: Leaders are increasingly recognizing the importance of balancing productivity goals with the well-being of their teams. Sustainable success involves not just achieving results but also ensuring the health and happiness of the workforce.


"Leadership is an evolving journey, and the lessons learned can vary based on the context and challenges faced. It's essential for leaders to stay open to learning, seek feedback, and adapt their approach as needed."


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?


The Quran, the holy book of Islam, provides guidance on various aspects of life, including principles that can contribute to effective leadership. While interpretations and applications may vary, here are some ways in which the Quran can be seen as enhancing leaders to be more effective:


1. Justice and Fairness:

• The Quran emphasizes the importance of justice and fairness. Leaders are encouraged to be just in their dealings, treating all individuals with equity and without discrimination.


2. Humility:

• The Quran teaches humility, reminding leaders that they are ultimately accountable to a higher power. This can encourage leaders to approach their roles with a sense of humility and responsibility.


3. Consultation (Shura):

• The concept of Shura (consultation) is emphasized in the Quran. Leaders are encouraged to seek advice and involve others in decision-making, fostering a sense of collaboration and inclusivity.


4. Compassion and Mercy:

• The Quran emphasizes the importance of compassion and mercy. Leaders are encouraged to lead with kindness, understanding, and empathy, considering the well-being of their followers.


5. Integrity and Honesty:

• The Quran places a strong emphasis on honesty and integrity. Leaders are encouraged to uphold these principles in their actions and decisions, fostering trust among their followers.


6. Leadership as a Trust (Amanah):

• The Quran describes leadership as a trust (amanah) from God. This concept reinforces the idea that leaders are stewards responsible for the well-being of those under their care.


7. Patience and Perseverance:

• The Quran teaches the value of patience and perseverance in the face of challenges. Leaders are reminded to remain steadfast in their commitment to their goals and principles.


8. Continuous Learning:

• The Quran encourages the pursuit of knowledge. Leaders are urged to seek wisdom, learn from experiences, and continually strive for personal and professional development.


9. Balancing Authority with Accountability:

• While leaders are given authority, they are also reminded of their accountability. The Quran encourages leaders to use their authority responsibly and be answerable for their actions.


10. Servant Leadership:

• The Quran promotes the concept of servant leadership, where leaders serve the needs of their followers. This aligns with the idea that leaders are there to support and empower those they lead.


"It's important to note that interpretations of religious texts can vary, and individuals may derive different lessons based on their understanding and beliefs. Additionally, the effectiveness of leadership is influenced by various factors, including the cultural and organizational context. Many of the principles found in the Quran align with universal values that contribute to ethical and effective leadership."


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


If I could offer one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be: Prioritize Continuous Learning and Adaptability.


The world is dynamic, and successful leadership requires the ability to adapt to change, learn from experiences, and stay informed about evolving trends and technologies. Continuous learning not only enhances your skills and knowledge but also fosters a mindset of curiosity and innovation.


Here are some key elements within this piece of advice:


1. Embrace a Growth Mindset: Believe in your capacity to learn and improve over time. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles.


2. Stay Inquisitive: Be curious and open-minded. Ask questions, seek feedback, and explore new ideas. A curious leader is often an innovative and forward-thinking one.


3. Learn from Failures: View failures as learning experiences. Understand what went wrong, extract lessons, and use that knowledge to make better-informed decisions in the future.


4. Seek Mentorship: Surround yourself with experienced mentors who can provide guidance, share insights, and offer valuable perspectives based on their own leadership journeys.


5. Stay Informed: Keep up with industry trends, technological advancements, and changes in the business landscape. Being well-informed allows you to make strategic decisions.


6. Adapt to Change: Develop the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Flexibility and adaptability are critical qualities for leaders in a fast-paced and evolving world.


7. Invest in Your Personal Development: Set aside time for your own personal and professional development. This could include reading, attending workshops, taking courses, or engaging in activities that expand your skill set.


"Always remember, leadership is a journey of continuous growth and development. By prioritizing learning and adaptability, you position yourself to navigate the complexities of leadership effectively and contribute to positive outcomes for yourself and your team."


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


Once upon a time in a small tech startup, I was leading this organization within a very challenging situation. That time I really need an exceptional ability to empower my team and create a positive and innovative work environment. One day, the company faced a significant technical challenge that required a creative solution.


Instead of dictating a solution, I gathered my team in a brainstorming session. I encouraged everyone to share their ideas, fostering an atmosphere where every team member felt their input was valued. As ideas flowed, I listened actively, providing constructive feedback and guidance.


Unexpected junior team member, hesitantly shared an unconventional idea. I recognized the potential in his suggestion and, instead of dismissing it, encouraged the team to explore the concept further. The team collaborated to refine the idea, and it turned out to be a groundbreaking solution to the challenge.


My successful leadership style in that particular case not only led to the successful resolution of the technical issue but also boosted team morale and confidence. The experience taught the team the importance of open communication, collaboration, and the value of considering diverse perspectives.


"The meaningful lesson from this story is that effective leaders empower their teams, value diverse ideas, and create an environment where innovation can thrive. Leadership is not just about giving orders but about inspiring and guiding the collective effort toward success."

bottom of page