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7 Questions on Leadership with Kevin Arnold


Name: Kevin Arnold


Title: Funder/CEO


Organisation: Fusion SD


Kevin Arnold is the founder and CEO of Fusion Software Development, growing the company to be a leader in the automotive software space with its state of the art products. Kevin is also the Executive Director at the private office of His Highness Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum members of the Royal family of Dubai , actively managing the private investments and strategic partnerships with clients in the Australia & New Zealand region.


Kevin began his career after graduating, leading the multi-national construction company, ACA Alliance in undertaking private and government large scale projects for several years. After several years operating at a director level in the construction industry, Kevin saw the missing gap in software in the Automotive space and proceeded to develop Auto Management System (AMS) for the automotive industry, growing the company to operating with many major prestige brands and dealer groups worldwide.


Kevin’s unique background in various industries has allowed him to excel in business planning, operations management and analytical skills with a demonstrated track record of success in key decision making.


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


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


Cheers,

Jonno White



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


As the CEO of Fusion SD, I've found that one of the most challenging aspects of leadership is ensuring effective communication and alignment within a globally distributed team. With clients all over the world, our team at Fusion SD is likely spread across different time zones and cultural backgrounds. It can be challenging to maintain open lines of communication, foster collaboration, and ensure that everyone is working towards our common goals.


To address this challenge, we've implemented several strategies:

Regular Virtual Meetings: We schedule regular virtual meetings that accommodate different time zones. These meetings provide a platform for team members to share updates, discuss projects, and address any concerns.


Clear Communication Channels: We've established clear communication channels and tools to facilitate easy communication, such as project management software, messaging apps, and email. This helps streamline information flow.


Cultural Sensitivity Training: Given our global client base, we've invested in cultural sensitivity training to ensure that our team understands and respects different cultural norms and expectations.


Flexible Work Arrangements: We offer flexible work arrangements to accommodate team members' diverse schedules, which can help improve work-life balance and productivity.

Regular Check-Ins: Managers conduct regular check-ins with team members to provide feedback, address challenges, and ensure that everyone feels connected to the company's mission.


While managing a global team presents challenges, it also offers opportunities for diverse perspectives and innovation. By focusing on effective communication and cultural sensitivity, we aim to harness the strengths of our global team to drive the success of Fusion SD and AMS Pro in the automotive industry.


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


My journey to leadership at Fusion SD began with a passion for entrepreneurship. Even though I didn't have prior experience in the software industry, I had a strong desire to create and build innovative solutions.


While I didn't have a background in software, I recognized the growing demand for software solutions in various industries, including the automotive sector. This led to the idea of founding Fusion SD to meet this demand.


To bring the vision of Fusion SD to life, I assembled a team of talented individuals who possessed the technical skills and industry knowledge required for software development in the automotive sector.


As a leader at Fusion SD, I embraced a steep learning curve. While I may not have had prior software experience, I actively learned about software development, project management, and client interactions through on-the-job training and by leveraging the expertise of my team members.


Over time, I focused on continuous improvement, both personally and for the company. We invested in training and development for our team members and sought out industry best practices to ensure the quality of our software solutions.


Through dedication and a commitment to delivering exceptional software products, Fusion SD grew and established itself as a reputable company in the automotive industry.

My leadership role evolved naturally as Fusion SD expanded. As the CEO, I took on responsibilities for guiding the company's strategic direction, fostering innovation, and leading our team of professionals.


My journey to leadership at Fusion SD without prior software experience highlights the importance of entrepreneurial vision, assembling a capable team, and being open to continuous learning and growth. It serves as a testament to the idea that leadership can be built on determination, adaptability, and a commitment to excellence.


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


Here's an overview of how I structure my work days:


Morning:


Wake Up Early: I typically wake up early, ensuring I get a good night's rest to start the day feeling refreshed.


Exercise: I believe in the importance of physical fitness, so I often begin my day with a workout, whether it's a jog, yoga, or a visit to the gym.


Healthy Breakfast: A nutritious breakfast is essential to kickstart the day, providing me with the energy I need.


Workday:


Prioritize Tasks: I start by reviewing my schedule and prioritizing tasks for the day. I use a to-do list or project management software to keep track of my work.


Focused Work: I dedicate focused blocks of time to tackle the most important and challenging tasks. This is when I'm most productive.


Meetings and Collaboration: I schedule meetings, both internal and with clients, during times that don't interfere with my peak productivity hours. Collaboration and communication are crucial for the success of Fusion SD.


Lunch Break: I take a break for a healthy lunch to recharge and step away from the computer.

Email and Communication: I allocate specific times for checking and responding to emails and messages to prevent distractions throughout the day.


Team Check-Ins: As a leader, I regularly check in with my team members to provide guidance, address any challenges, and ensure everyone is aligned with our goals.

Strategic Planning: I reserve time for strategic planning, whether it's reviewing the company's long-term vision, evaluating new opportunities, or considering product development.


Skill Development: I believe in continuous learning, so I allocate time for skill development, whether it's exploring industry trends, attending webinars, or reading relevant publications.


Evening:


Family Time: In the evening, I prioritize spending time with my family and disconnect from work to maintain a healthy work-life balance.


Dinner: A balanced dinner provides a chance to unwind and enjoy a meal with loved ones.

Relaxation: I use the evening for relaxation, whether it's watching a movie, reading, or pursuing hobbies.


Reflect and Plan: Before bed, I reflect on the day's accomplishments, make a to-do list for the next day, and ensure I'm well-prepared for upcoming tasks.


Adequate Sleep: I aim to get a sufficient amount of sleep to ensure I'm well-rested for the following day.


Maintaining a structured daily routine helps me stay organized and productive while also allowing for personal time and self-care. It's important to note that flexibility is key, as the demands of leadership and the software industry can vary, and I adapt my schedule as needed to address challenges and opportunities that arise.


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


One recent leadership lesson that I've been reminded of is the importance of adaptability and resilience in the face of unexpected challenges. The fast-paced nature of the software industry often presents unforeseen obstacles and disruptions, and it's crucial for leaders to navigate these effectively.


In a rapidly changing environment, being flexible and open to change is essential. Here are some key takeaways from this lesson:


Embrace Change: Instead of resisting change, I've learned to embrace it. Whether it's shifts in technology trends, market dynamics, or unexpected external factors (like global events), being open to adaptation is key to staying competitive.


Effective Communication: Clear and transparent communication becomes even more critical during times of uncertainty. Keeping the team informed, addressing concerns, and fostering a sense of unity can help mitigate the negative impact of disruptions.


Resilience: Demonstrating resilience as a leader sets an example for the team. It's essential to remain calm under pressure, make well-informed decisions, and show determination in overcoming challenges.


Learning from Adversity: Every challenge presents an opportunity for growth and learning. I've found that reflecting on past challenges and analyzing what worked and what didn't can lead to improved strategies for future adversity.


Flexibility in Planning: While having a clear strategic plan is essential, it's equally important to be flexible in execution. Plans may need to be adjusted based on changing circumstances, and leaders should be willing to pivot when necessary.


This recent reminder of the importance of adaptability and resilience has reinforced the idea that leadership in the software industry requires not only a vision for the future but also the ability to navigate the unpredictable twists and turns of the industry effectively. It's a valuable lesson that I strive to apply in my role as CEO of Fusion SD.


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 Art of War" by Sun Tzu is a timeless classic on strategy and leadership that has had a profound impact on my approach to leadership. While it's primarily a treatise on warfare, its principles can be applied to various aspects of leadership and business strategy.


The book's impact on my leadership can be summarized in the following ways:


Strategic Thinking: "The Art of War" emphasizes the importance of strategic thinking and planning. It has taught me to take a long-term view of my company's goals, anticipate challenges, and develop strategies to overcome them.


Adaptability: Sun Tzu's teachings emphasize the need for adaptability and flexibility in leadership. This has helped me understand the importance of being open to change and adjusting strategies when circumstances require it.


Know Your Competition: The book stresses the significance of knowing both your strengths and weaknesses and those of your competitors. This has influenced my approach to competitive analysis and market positioning.


Leadership Styles: "The Art of War" discusses different leadership styles and the importance of leading by example. It has influenced my leadership style, encouraging me to lead through inspiration and action rather than just authority.


Decision-Making: Sun Tzu's principles on decision-making have influenced my approach to making tough choices. It emphasizes the need for careful deliberation, considering all factors before taking action.


Overall, "The Art of War" has provided me with valuable insights into strategy, leadership, and the art of navigating challenges. It's a book that I often refer back to for guidance in my role as CEO of Fusion SD, and its timeless wisdom continues to shape my leadership approach.


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


My advice to a young leader is simple but powerful: Never stop learning and growing, both as a leader and as an individual. This commitment to lifelong learning will not only benefit you but also the team and organization you lead.


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


One meaningful story from my time as a leader involves a challenging project that tested our team's determination and resilience. It was a pivotal moment in our journey at Fusion SD.


We had secured a substantial contract with a major automotive manufacturer to develop a customized version of our AMS Pro software. The project was ambitious, with a tight timeline and complex requirements. It involved integrating our software with the manufacturer's existing systems and ensuring seamless data migration.


As we delved into the project, we encountered unforeseen technical obstacles and communication issues with the client's team. The project timeline was at risk, and our team was feeling the pressure.


However, rather than succumbing to frustration or panic, our team rallied together. We held regular cross-functional meetings to address challenges collaboratively. We encouraged open communication with the client to clarify expectations and resolve issues promptly.

One key moment that stands out is when a junior developer on our team came up with a creative solution to a particularly vexing technical problem. This solution not only solved the issue but also improved the overall efficiency of our software.


Through teamwork, innovative problem-solving, and a relentless commitment to meeting our client's needs, we not only delivered the project on time but exceeded the client's expectations. The project's success strengthened our reputation in the automotive industry and led to further opportunities.


This story reminds me of the power of teamwork, adaptability, and perseverance in overcoming challenges. It reinforced the importance of maintaining a positive and collaborative atmosphere within our company and inspired us to approach future projects with the same determination and innovation. It's a testament to the resilience and capability of the Fusion SD team, and it remains a source of pride and inspiration for us all.

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