Ashraf Kotb, Senior Service Delivery Manager at Microsoft, interviews with Qatar IT Forum about his professional life and his secret to success as an IT professional. Here is the full transcript of our interview.
How did you start your professional career? And, why did you choose IT as a career?
I started my professional career back in 1998, two years before my college graduation, when I worked as a part-time systems administrator. I started to realize the potential of IT since my secondary school when I first studied basic programming languages such as (Basic). IT since then has been fascinating me, and with the new disruptive trends, IT has indeed proven to be a major tool to support people’s lives and boost innovation.
How do you see growth of IT industry in Qatar? And, what steps Government should take to improve the IT industry?
IT industry has been rapidly growing in Qatar during the past few years. As an IT professional, I can certainly tell the difference in the IT market size and investments between 2015 and 2008 when I first landed in Qatar. This growth has been hugely supported by a lot of great national initiatives such as the subway project.
The Rail, Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022, Hamad International Airport, and many other infrastructure projects. Qatar National Vision 2030 has also hugely supported the IT market by encouraging innovation and education.
I believe the extra push the Qatar government needs to put to improve the IT industry is to continue to enhance the communication infrastructure to allow better Internet bandwidth, speeds, and stability, especially with the growing trend of adopting cloud services.
What are your three most important recommendations to Qatar IT Industry?
1- To always seek the optimum alignment between IT and business requirements. Technology can’t work in isolation from business needs, otherwise it won’t be able to deliver its expected value.
2- Innovate, innovate, and innovate. Continue to think out of the box, and be ready to always take risks in trying new ideas and launch new initiatives.
3- Be genuine in everything you do. IT and technology in general is meant to add value to people’s lives. If you know that you are not going to add value, genuinely engage who can.
What IT projects are you currently working on?
Sorry, can’t say that 🙂
Who are your inspirations?
1- The Prophet Mohamed. Apart from my thoughts as a Muslim, The Prophet Mohamed is considered by many people in the world to be the ideal example of honesty and integrity. For me, those are the two most important values anyone should seek in life.
2- Thomas Alva Edison
Edison is a rare example of chasing success and not giving up. I’ve been always fascinated by his famous quote “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”
What’s the secret of your success as an IT Professional?
Continuous learning, and not giving up. And above all, the support I always get from my wife, family, and close friends has been always the most important factor.
Where do you spend most of your free time? Any special hobbies/interests?
I have a special interest in nature and wildlife conservation. I spend most of my free time in wildlife photography, and engaging in wildlife conservation projects and activities as a member of the National Geographic Grosvenor Council and the International Federation of Photographic Arts (FIAP)
What’s the side of you that your friends, family and colleagues never see?
I get bored easily!!
If you could go back to the start of your career and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Seek what you love to do, not what you find available.