What I was keen to continue with was learning and gaining knowledge and experience as technology is a very rapidly changing field, so keeping up is critical
When asked how she planned her career path to be a successful technology leader, Iman Megahed, AVP for Digital Transformation, Chief Strategy and Knowledge Officer at The American University in Cairo, in an exclusive interview with CIO News, said, honestly, I didn’t plan my career. I was always passionate about technology and its potential with a very strong drive to achieve and excel. What I was keen to continue with was learning and gaining knowledge and experience as technology is a very rapidly changing field, so keeping up is critical. Another critical dimension I pursued is complementing my technology career with management skills that enable me to flourish in roles beyond purely technical and operational.
When asked about challenges she faced in her career path and how she overcame them, she said, working in technology is a daunting challenge in and of itself. It requires long hours of hard work, and perseverance on an on-going basis as the field is continuously evolving at an unprecedented rate. Also, the challenges of being a woman in a high-tech field were not common at the start of my career. Furthermore, I was younger than most of my colleagues which made it necessary to earn trust and credibility. However, all of this made me stronger and more resilient. It also expanded my horizons to diversity struggles and ways to overcome them.
When asked how her organization geared up in terms of technology in the COVID times, she said, COVID was a true driver for digital transformation. Overnight, we had to move all our operations, functions, and teaching online/virtual. Having been a strong advocate for digitization for years, we were somewhat ready for virtual teaching. However, there was no guidance to prepare us for a full virtual model.
We took swift and immediate decisions to ramp up our virtual tools for teaching, learning, engaging, and even events. Extensive development for our faculty and staff on how to use these technologies took place. Furthermore, new tools were developed by leveraging existing technologies to address COVID contact tracing and tracking. From in-house systems for self-check, testing, gates automatic management to Big-Data WI-FI contact tracing solutions were built. All through data and insights were continuously/swiftly gathered, analyzed, and acted upon to ensure user experience with these tools, particularly in learning and teaching.
When asked about technology solutions and innovations she plans to implement in the post COVID era, she said, COVID made it clear to all decision-makers that digital transformation needed to be at the forefront of any institution’s driving strategies. However, it also set back some existing digital transformation plans as others more related to COVID took precedence. Now that we have reached a reasonably stable state, we will go back to focusing on revamping our digital infrastructure which is the center stage of our digital plans. Likewise, laying out our ERP landscape, integration platforms, and mobile presence is a priority. In addition, strengthening our information security function is a critical function. All of this we plan for our digital roadmaps to define transformational enterprise architecture and invest in our human capital to ensure that they continue to deliver as our technology tools advance.
When asked about challenges faced by technology leaders today in a similar industry while implementing digital technologies, she said, our challenges are common: we are facing a very rapidly changing environment where resources are restricted and competing. Planning and prioritizing are becoming more necessary than ever to carve a clear course. The rate of transformation requires institutions with very high levels of digital maturity, which may not align well with institutions that have a set culture with high resistance to change. Also attracting and retaining competent human capital is exceedingly becoming a challenge due to the high demand and limited supply.
When asked how technology leaders can overcome the challenges, she said, digital managers in this day and age have to have effective leadership skills to overcome such challenges. From strategizing and planning, implementation and execution, motivation and communication to change management and quality assurance, all these demand strong and transformative leaders. Make sure you harness the power of your data and insights to address these challenges and define courses of action.
When asked about best practices/industry trends/advice she would like to suggest to fellow technology leaders for their successful professional journeys, she said, just some words of wisdom, never consider digitization as an end. It is a means to a strong and sustainable competitive edge, engaged workforce, and fulfilled customers. So never undermine the importance of looking at customer journeys, user experiences, and the human aspect of digitization as it’s the true force we need to harness. Also, never undermine the power of data and knowledge to drive an institution’s decision-making power to render better results.
CIO News, a proprietary of Mercadeo, produces award-winning content and resources for IT leaders across any industry through print articles and recorded video interviews on topics in the technology sector such as Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Cloud, Robotics, Cyber-security, Data, Analytics, SOC, SASE, among other technology topics