With the need for digital transformation for business to stay relevant in the new world normal, the key ingredients to succeed alongside technical capability is therefore the business-techno mind-set and the awareness and competency of cyber protection as more critical business functions are digitalized online
When asked how he planned his career path to be a successful technology leader, Ken Soh, Founding CEO, CIO/Director e-Strategies BH Global Corporation at Athena Dynamics Pte Ltd, in an exclusive interview with CIO News said, I would not say that there is a long-term plan, but more of always going along my interest and passion as much as the environment and conditions provide. I know it may be easier said than done as everyone has a different background, context, and living conditions. It is not always easy to end up with a right match of job nature that would truly make one’s life interesting and fulfilling. Nevertheless, always stay hungry (even when you are full!), curious, and zealous to not just learn, but continue to learn how good knowledge and experiences were learned. Such meta-perspective, coupled with good discipline and network would raise the possibility of ending up and transiting to whatever could be a good match of one’s passion and aspiration. As Steve Jobs once said, the dots would finally join.
In summary, it is not truly a “plan” per se, but more of a continuous zest and quest to achieve one’s progression via on-going effort to build positive elements which help in leaving meaningful footprints in life. One good example is to establish a relevant network. This may not refer to the network which appears out rightly relevant to one’s immediate interests. It is difficult to anticipate what would come along in life, so network with positive contacts whenever there is an opportunity to do so. It does not matter whether such a positive network seems directly relevant. At the end of the day, it is not about who you know, it is about who knows you.
When asked about challenges he faced in his career path and how he overcame them, he said, the most challenging encounter, I would say is to realize that you end up working for an incompetent leader. This is especially so of leadership who is more political than meritocratic, more “distant learning” than on the ground. The culture of an organization starts with the #1 person at the pinnacle. Incompetent leadership would create at best, an under-performing team and at worst, a toxic culture. For example, fear-oriented leadership will never last long in today’s highly competitive, commercial landscape where servant leadership is the way forward.
While I had a fair share of experience with a corporate culture that leaves much to be desired, I am also fortunate to have journeyed with very positive and productive leadership which truly left behind very fond and enjoyable learning and development experience in my working journey thus far.
In a nutshell, when one has the fortune to be placed in a positive culture, treasure it and focus on mutual and collective development. In the unfortunate situation that one is placed in an undesirable culture, and is beyond one’s power to change, it is important to leave and stay far with neutrality and professional aftertaste.
When asked about challenges faced by technology leaders today in a similar industry while implementing digital technologies, he said, there is a common saying today that digital transformation is no longer driven by C-suite but mandated by the fluid and the unpredictable situation brought forth by another “C”, i.e. COVID-19. With the need for digital transformation for business to stay relevant in the new world normal, the key ingredients to succeed alongside technical capability is therefore the business-techno mind-set and the awareness and competency of cyber protection as more critical business functions are digitalized online. With that, the challenges today in my view is how to cyber-protect effectively, and also how to spot viable transformation opportunity to strive and thrive in the new world order brought forth by the pandemic.
When asked how technology leaders can overcome the challenges faced, he said, on cyber protection, it is unfortunate that digital leadership would face a complex and unceasingly dynamic landscape. It is therefore important to be not just familiar with the People, Process, Technology elements in cyber protection, but also the awareness of the importance of a disruptive technology mind-set in the application and sourcing of game-changing technologies to protect rights and protect better.
On mind-set and culture, it is also unfortunate that business transformation leadership needs to possess multi-faceted skills not just in technical aspects, but the soft skills of gaining buy-in from the most senior level to the operational levels of the organizations. There is no textbook for this and the best way forward is therefore to continuously self-develop one’s business acumen and operational capabilities. Learning how to learn is key. Transformation leaders need to also possess the skill of identifying the strength and weaknesses of people and engineer the placement of right-fitting strengths into the new roles that transformation brings about. For this, there is no bed of roses. Fall out is inevitable along the way since people are primarily wired differently and not all would be able to adapt to the on-going changes.
When asked about best practices/industry trends/advice he would like to suggest to fellow technology leaders for their successful professional journeys, he said, to continuously upgrade and learn not just technical capabilities from the practitioner’s angle, and to continue to sharpen one’s business acumen and soft skills via practices whenever there is an opportunity to learn via new responsibilities and new roles. To be able to see one’s responsibility not just from a “job” view, but a “business” perspective is the key. It is important to understand that scoring internal efficiency and cost-saving KPIs managing multi-million-dollar projects is not comparable to developing new businesses securing its first thousand-dollar order from the market. The latter calls for a much broader, multi-faceted techno business mind-set and soft skills that goes beyond just operational management
He highlighted today’s world is becoming unprecedentedly much smaller due to advancements in technologies and connectivity. It is quite impossible to find something that one is working on and no one else is. It is therefore important to have an evolving and innovative mind-set, constantly in search of disruptive paradigm to create new blue oceans, continue to cannibalize one’s propositions before someone else would do it upon us. It would be too late when a business asks, “Who moves my cheese?” It is always about the relentless and unceasing search for outside-the-box paradigms to achieve sustainable business propositions in today’s dynamic and constantly disrupted business landscape. Again, there is no text-book for such skill and mind-set. We can’t Google to learn cycling. We just need to constantly feel it, practice it, and acquire the acumen first-hand.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the interviewee and not necessarily those of BH Global Corporation Ltd nor Athena Dynamics Pte Ltd. Neither BH Global Corporation Ltd, Athena Dynamics Pte Ltd nor the interviewee guarantees the accuracy or reliability of the information provided herein.
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