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7 Questions on Leadership with Syed Raheel Hassan

Name: Syed Raheel Hassan

Title: Business Analyst

Organisation: SS&C Technologies

Hello, I'm Syed Raheel Hassan, a seasoned Senior Business Analyst with over 4 years of experience, currently based in Karachi. My professional journey reflects a commitment to leveraging analytics, finance, and consultancy expertise across diverse sectors. I specialize in data-driven decision-making, financial analysis, and strategic consulting to drive impactful solutions.

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

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


Jonno White

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

As a leader, one of the most significant challenges I've faced centers around managing projects that demand a delicate balance between speed and precision. Implementing intricate solutions within tight timelines necessitates strategic planning, effective communication, and collaboration across diverse teams. This challenge highlights the importance of adaptable leadership, emphasizing the need to foster collaboration and maintain a focus on delivering high-quality results in dynamic environments. It serves as a catalyst for continuous growth, reinforcing my belief in the importance of agility and innovative problem-solving in leadership roles. In addition to the intricacies of project management, another notable challenge in leadership involves cultivating a cohesive and motivated team in an ever-evolving professional landscape. Nurturing a work culture that encourages open communication, values diverse perspectives, and fosters creativity is vital.

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

My journey into leadership has been a vibrant evolution, blending academic exploration, hands-on experiences, and an unwavering commitment to continuous growth. Commencing with a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering, I laid the foundation for an analytical mindset and adept problem-solving capabilities.

Transitioning into the professional arena, I began as a Graduate Trainee, immersing myself in transformative initiatives such as reshaping crude oil freight offloading procedures and optimizing logistics operations through exhaustive gap analyses. This early experience underscored the tangible impact of hands-on involvement and the critical role of strategic decision-making in enhancing operational efficiency.

Navigating the financial sector, a significant turning point occurred as a Senior Business Analyst, spearheading the implementation of intricate financial solutions within demanding timeframes. This period emphasized the crucial attributes of adaptability and effective communication in leadership. The complexities of translating client specifications into tangible deliverables, performing intricate financial analyses, and orchestrating seamless collaboration among diverse stakeholders were pivotal experiences that have left an indelible mark on my leadership style.

These diverse encounters have woven together to shape my narrative in leadership. Whether optimizing logistics or steering financial solutions, each stride has played a part in my personal and professional growth. The amalgamation of academic prowess with hands-on encounters has fostered an innovative and adaptable leadership approach. As I navigate through intricate projects, lead diverse teams, and contribute to strategic decision-making, I look back on this journey with profound gratitude for the mosaic of experiences that have helped me grow professionally and personally.

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

My approach to structuring workdays revolves around cultivating productivity, achieving balance, and fostering a positive growth path. The day typically kicks off with mindfulness practices, creating a positive foundation for what lies ahead. Task prioritization plays a pivotal role in ensuring a focused work day, strategically combined with short breaks to maintain optimal energy levels and sustain high levels of concentration.

As midday approaches, a break is carved out for a good lunch and a moment of refreshment. Afternoons are dedicated to the continued execution of tasks, collaboration with team members in different time zones, and periodic brief breaks to recalibrate and rejuvenate. Evenings become a time for reflection, as accomplishments are reviewed, plans are set for the next day, and a deliberate transition from work to personal time takes place.

Personal activities take center stage in the evening, ensuring a well-rounded routine that encompasses family, hobbies, relaxation, and a deliberate inclusion of time for reading, particularly focusing on literature related to innovation. This intentional commitment to staying informed about innovative trends adds an inspiring layer to the routine, encouraging a mindset geared toward continuous learning and creative thinking.

As nightfall descends, a deliberate winding-down process unfolds, incorporating activities such as reading or listening to music to usher in a sense of tranquility before bedtime. Prioritizing adequate sleep remains paramount for overall well-being. Integral to this routine is the inclusion of physical activities, particularly engaging in sports, to not only refresh myself physically but also to stimulate mental clarity. The flexibility embedded within this structure allows for adaptation to unforeseen challenges, and a willingness to embrace spontaneity adds a touch of resilience to this methodical yet dynamic approach to workdays.

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

A recent valuable lesson I've embraced recently is the understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. Each individual in a team brings unique strengths, challenges, and communication styles. To effectively lead and collaborate, it's crucial to be a discerning and empathic people reader, tailoring leadership styles based on the distinct needs of each team member. This customization requires the ability to recognize and adapt to different personalities, work preferences, and communication preferences. Embracing this flexibility not only builds stronger connections with team members but also fosters an inclusive and supportive work environment. It's a reminder that successful leadership is rooted in adaptability, acknowledging that diverse individuals thrive under diverse leadership styles, and a leader's ability to customize their approach is key to unlocking the full potential of the team.

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 book that has profoundly influenced my views on leadership is "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. This book delves into the dual systems that govern human thought processes: the fast, intuitive system, and the slow, deliberate system.

The impact of this book on my understanding of leadership was transformative, particularly in decision-making and understanding the cognitive biases that influence how we perceive and respond to information. Kahneman's exploration of the intricacies of human thinking prompted me to reflect on my own decision-making processes as a leader. It underscored the importance of being aware of cognitive biases that can cloud judgment and hinder effective leadership.

The book's insights on System 1 (fast thinking) and System 2 (slow thinking) encouraged me to approach problem-solving with a more deliberate and analytical mindset, especially in situations that demanded careful consideration. It taught me to recognize when intuitive responses might be influenced by biases and to consciously engage in more reflective decision-making when needed.

Moreover, understanding the psychological aspects of decision-making has enhanced my communication skills and team dynamics. Recognizing that individuals may approach problems differently has allowed me to create an inclusive and collaborative environment that values diverse perspectives.

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 crucial piece of advice to a young leader, it would be to lead with empathy and a deep understanding of the people you work with. Practice empathetic leadership by genuinely connecting with your team, acknowledging their perspectives, challenges, and aspirations. Cultivate active listening skills, going beyond words to grasp the emotions and motivations underlying your team members' expressions. Recognize the diversity in communication styles and customize your approach accordingly, ensuring effective and resonant communication. Encourage a culture of open feedback, valuing constructive input from both yourself and your team. Invest time in building authentic relationships, understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations of each team member. Prioritize work-life balance, acknowledging the personal aspects of your team members' lives. By leading with empathy and a profound understanding of human dynamics, you not only foster a positive and supportive work environment but also inspire a team that feels heard, valued, and empowered to achieve collective success.

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

One poignant story from my leadership journey centers around a challenging project that required the collective efforts of a diverse team. The project was marked by tight deadlines, complex tasks, and a palpable sense of pressure. As the leader, I recognized the need to not only manage the project intricacies but also to uplift the team's spirits.

In the midst of this intensity, I observed a team member who was exceptionally diligent and committed but seemed to be grappling with the workload. Instead of simply addressing the project-related concerns, I decided to engage in a one-on-one conversation to understand the underlying challenges. Through this open dialogue, I discovered that the team member was navigating personal challenges that were affecting their performance.

Instead of approaching the situation solely from a task-oriented perspective, I extended support, reassessed workloads, and provided the flexibility needed to accommodate personal circumstances. This simple act of understanding and responding to the individual's needs not only contributed to their improved performance but also fostered a sense of trust and camaraderie within the team.

The project, despite its challenges, ultimately succeeded, and the experience reinforced the profound impact of empathetic leadership. It underscored that acknowledging and addressing the personal aspects of team members' lives can enhance both individual well-being and collective success, creating a work environment built on compassion and mutual support. This story serves as a reminder that leadership goes beyond project management; it involves understanding and uplifting the individuals who drive the team forward.

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