Name: Athar Raza
Title: Founder & CEO, OpenRox | Tech-Entrepreneur
Athar Raza, the CEO of OpenRox, is a seasoned technologist and strategic visionary, navigating the intricate landscape where technology and business converge. His expertise extends beyond technical realms; he is a sagacious strategist, offering invaluable guidance to startups as they navigate the labyrinth of the online domain.
Beyond his role as a CEO, Athar is a mentor, imparting the art of freelancing and money-making to the eager minds of tomorrow. His passion for nurturing talent goes hand-in-hand with his commitment to transformative solutions. Channeling his multifaceted expertise, Athar is the driving force behind OpenRox, shaping the destiny of businesses. As a visionary, he carves success stories out of raw ambition, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of business and technology. In every facet of his journey, Athar embodies the spirit of a technologist, mentor, and transformative force.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Athar's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The most challenging aspect of leadership for me has been the delicate balance between pursuing ambitious goals and fostering an environment of humility and collaboration. In a world that often celebrates individual success, breaking away from self-centered competition and encouraging a collective mindset has proven to be a constant challenge. This journey has been peppered with unique challenges, such as navigating industry complexities and rapid growth while maintaining the team's collaborative spirit. Embracing risk has been another facet of leadership that I've found both challenging and invigorating. In larger companies, risk aversion can stifle innovation, but I believe that embracing risk is a fundamental aspect of driving meaningful change.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My leadership journey had its genesis during my undergraduate years at NUST in Quetta, Pakistan. The rich cultural experiences, challenges and exposure to a different way of life shaped my perspective. Inspired to make a positive impact, I started freelancing in a unique way-started learning the algorithms of top-freelance platforms, developing my own strategies and tools, I diligently honed my skills, crafted unique algorithms, and navigated the competitive landscape with unwavering dedication.
As I expanded my horizons beyond computer science, venturing into various technologies and staying abreast of the latest trends, the journey took a significant turn with the inception of OpenRox.
OpenRox, a vision shared with trusted partners, was more than just a platform for delivering exceptional services to clients. It became a manifestation of a broader mission—nurturing talent, offering valuable consultation, and guiding fellow freelancers and budding entrepreneurs. This evolution from an individual freelancer to a collaborative leader reflects a deep-seated passion for making a difference and a steadfast commitment to humility amidst success.
At its core, my leadership journey is not merely a linear progression, but rather a narrative intricately woven with the threads of hard-earned skills, unwavering determination, and deep industry expertise. Coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit and a resolute commitment to empowering others, my leadership trajectory transcends personal accolades. Instead, it encapsulates a vision of an inclusive ecosystem where every individual possesses the opportunity to flourish and achieve their full potential. The culmination of my diverse experiences, including my involvement in founding and leading OpenRox, serves as a testament to this overarching vision.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
A holistic approach defines my workdays. Early mornings are dedicated to strategic planning and setting intentions for the day. Throughout, I balance client work, innovative product development, and collaborative team endeavors. Regular breaks for learning and personal growth are crucial, ensuring continuous adaptation and improvement. The evenings are a dedicated cadence for reflection on the day's achievements and challenges. This structured routine, especially during tumultuous times, provides a guiding score, ensuring every note contributes to the symphony of sustained creativity.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
A recent reminder has been the power of shared success. Collaborating with a dedicated team amplifies creativity and fosters innovation. It's not about individual achievements but the collective impact we make. This lesson continually reinforces the importance of a unified vision and the strength derived from diverse perspectives. Embracing risk, as highlighted in the additional data, has been a recent revelation. In the pursuit of new opportunities, risk is not just an inevitable part but a necessary catalyst for innovation. This mindset shift has been integral to our ability to navigate challenges and drive meaningful change.
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?
"Good to Great" by Jim Collins has been transformative for my leadership journey. The book's emphasis on placing the right people in the right roles aligns seamlessly with my belief in teamwork. It underscores the significance of humble leadership and its enduring impact on an organization. This insight has guided my approach to building a team that shares a common vision and collaborates toward success. The book's wisdom has acted as a compass during challenging times, reminding me of the enduring power of cohesive leadership.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
I would advise young leaders to relentlessly pursue their visions, stay humble, and embrace risk. Risk is not a deterrent; it's an inherent part of innovation. Being an optimist is a fundamental quality for anyone venturing into leadership. This mindset, coupled with intentional efforts in areas like inclusion, diversity, and equity, opens up tremendous opportunities. With a global perspective on talent and an intentional approach, organizations can create opportunities and drive progress. My advice is to be intentional about innovation, embrace risk, and stay optimistic about the potential for positive change.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Absolutely. In a pivotal chapter of OpenRox's journey, we faced a formidable challenge that tested the very fabric of our resilience and dedication. It was a period marked by financial strain, with revenue dwindling and unexpected setbacks threatening our progress. The challenges escalated as our accounts and systems encountered restrictions—a consequence of intense market competition and, in a more nuanced sense, professional rivalry.