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7 Questions on Leadership with Arun Mamgai


Name: Arun Mamgai


Title: Lead Specialist - Cybersecurity, Data Science, and Hybrid Cloud App Platform


Organisation: Red Hat, Inc


Arun Mamgai has 20+ years of experience in Cybersecurity, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Open-Source Secure Supply Chain, Integrated Digital Marketing, Leadership, and Team management while working with Fortune 1000 customers across industries. He recommends business and technology solutions driving digital transformation to C-level executives and has published multiple articles. His recent article "Generative AI With Cybersecurity: Friend or Foe of Digital Transformation?" was published on ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), providing an interesting insight into collaboration b/w cybersecurity and Generative Artificial intelligence. His other article introduced a Balanced scorecard framework for the Chief Information Security Office (CISO). He has also authored a paper on an Integrated Digital Marketing Solution providing end-to-end recommendations for customer loyalty and analytics.


He has been invited by leading portals to share his cybersecurity, data science, and leadership experiences with them. He was also invited to be the Judge at the Codies Awards 2022 for the "Business and Technology" category in addition to being an "admission panelist" for one of the top 20 business schools globally. He has also spoken at multiple national conferences and mentored start-ups across the continents, including 12 start-ups from Africa who later on participated in the pan-Africa angel investment event. In order to support diversity, he actively engages with a non-profit institution "Techgirlz" and coaches US middle school girls to become future tech leaders.


He has a Bachelor's from the Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi (IIT), an MBA from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, and a Master's from Middle Georgia University, USA


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


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


Cheers,

Jonno White



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


Building trust with team members having different personality and style of working is the most challenging task for a leader


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


A few years ago, I was part of a project with tight deadlines and complex deliverables. And to make things worse, the team lead resigned because of a better opportunity elsewhere. It would have been a challenging task for a newcomer to learn about the project deliverables, complexities, timelines, and dependencies within a short period. I was already leading one of the critical project functions and was heavily involved in all internal and external discussions. The rest of the team members were already trusting me and started reaching out for guidance in the absence of a formal leader. I took on extra responsibilities to learn about the comprehensive project scope, including building modern application architecture, data protection, and cloud security solutions. I also learned about DevSecOps and other cybersecurity requirements while keeping the project on track. I gladly accepted the role when it was offered to me.


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


I am an early riser. I prefer to wake up early (before dawn) to meditate and either walk or run for at least 30 minutes in peace when everyone else is still in bed. Before I start my day, I prepare a list of to-do daily activities and keep crossing it as soon as each task is completed. It helps me stay focused and measure my productivity at the end of the day.


The first half of the day focuses on responding to pending emails, participating in team calls, product and solution updates, and customer reachout. The second half of the day is designing new campaigns, learning new skills, and continuous customer discussion. Customers are at the center of our responsibilities, so we structure our day around their availability and utilize the rest of the time for other activities like team discussion, building knowledge artifacts, discussing strategies to win new business, and acquiring new skills.

After I pick up my kids in the evening, I spend the next few hours with them, enquiring about how their day went, what they learned at school, what assignments they have received, etc. If the weather is nice, the entire family goes for a short walk outside in the evening - I want kids to learn a healthy lifestyle at an early stage. I get some free time after the kids go to bed around 8:30/9:00 PM, so the next hour is for reading a book, watching any favorite show, or finishing any critical pending item before I call it a day.

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


I recently wrote an article on “Balanced Scorecard for Chief Information Security Office (CISO)” on one of the leading portals. While I have extensive experience in Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, and Modern App Development, the Balanced Scorecard is a relatively new topic. I had to leave my comfort zone to learn about this topic and assess its applicability. The balanced scorecard is a planning and management tool to identify measurable goals to communicate what each group is trying to accomplish, and align day-to-day activities with the enterprise strategy, and prioritize projects and actions required to achieve common business outcomes. It’s a new approach for CISO groups that will also require a cultural change while aligning their objectives with the organizational goals.


I learnt that it’s essential for each individual to prioritize their task with the organizational goal and have a clear understanding of broader business objectives being supported by their actions.


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?


One of my previous managers gifted me “How Far Can You Go?: My 25-Year Quest to Walk Again” by John Maclean (An Australian triathlete who was hit by an 8-tonne truck as he rode his bike). The accident left John paraplegic with multiple suffering to his pelvis and back, but he worked hard despite what he had lost and became the first wheelchair athlete to finish the multi-discipline sporting event – the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. In 2013, he started learning to walk again.


This inspirational story has immensely impacted my style of working “never give up”. There will be challenges and losses, but we should never give up. “Dream big” and “diligently work hard” are the mantra for success.


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


My advice to young leaders is "Keep learning" and "make yourself accessible to your team". Each day will bring its own challenges and opportunities, but one shouldn't take one's eyes off the end goal and must carve out time to acquire new knowledge and make oneself available for the team for guidance and mentoring.


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


The CEO of one of my previous companies was looking for new ideas for the next wave of growth. He wanted the team to explore new services that could lead this growth and provide a solid competitive advantage. Unfortunately, no one had any clue how it could be achieved. My supervisor assigned this task to my team and asked us to develop a few suggestions to support this aspirational growth.


My team and I talked to multiple stakeholders and extensively researched all possible options after analyzing customer requirements, spending, and competitive offerings. I spent time with the team to identify the pros and cons of each option and recommend go-to-market approaches with minimal data privacy risks. After multiple discussions, the integrated digital marketing solution was approved as the new solution, providing visibility across the value chain and delivering a comprehensive and consistent omnichannel digital experience to the customers. This was the first solution for CMOs to protect digital data and improve customer loyalty. The company later patented it, which became one of the top-selling services after a few years.


A data-driven leadership approach is highly recommended when making a complicated decision and assigning actionable tasks to team members.

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