The VP of Innovations at UAE’s fastest growing mobile communications and technology provider, du Telecom, says discovering what really drives you will help you bring value into people’s lives.
Can you create your own passion? Of course, you can do that by following your heart and building opportunities.
Samer Geissah is the VP of Innovations at du, UAE’s leading telecom operator. He was so passionate about his projects outside of work that he changed his company’s mindset. Now he leads and mentors a corporate innovation team that encourages members to create.
He emphasizes the importance of creating your passion and challenges. Discovering what drives you will allow you to achieve excellence. Trying and failing is part of the process.
Samer says that you shouldn’t feel constrained by your workplace. ‘If the job gives you that, great. If not, take it outside and do your own thing.’
‘We’re adding lots of value’ Thanks to his initiative, Samer has now a passionate team supported by du to build meaningful projects and change lives.
Do you want to put your passion to good use and wake up excited about the future? Learn more here and remember to share it with your friends and spread the passion.
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Moustafa: Hello everyone and welcome back to Passion Sundays, the best way to end a week and start another. Our guest today is the VP of Innovations for the region’s leading telecom operator – du. Samer Geissah, thank you very much for being with us today!
Samer: Thank you!
Moustafa: I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to you because, I mean, du is causing lots of ripples with all the innovation work and with the man who is behind that. So tell me, how did your passion get you to be where you are today?
Samer: It’s a very interesting story as a guy in telecom for over 22 years. I did everything from consulting to you know, writing code. I got my chance to join du in 2005, just before we launched, a bit before the launch and I got the task to building the mobile network, which was very challenging and there was a lot of passion involved because there was a very small group of us, started very early, preparing something which has never been done in the UAE, which meant starting telecom from scratch. But you know, my heart wasn’t in it. We built site after site, switch after switch and kept doing it but what drove me to where I am today was actually outside of work. I started doing my own projects, discovering new innovations, worked a most successful Kickstarter campaign with a partner of mine and that caught the attention of management. And then they decided ‘Listen if you’re so passionate about this, why don’t you do this as a job at du?’ And that’s when it started, we started the innovation department 5 years ago and here we are, we’re adding lots of value to it.
Moustafa: That’s a breath of fresh air because most people sitting in corporate are always complaining about how corporate doesn’t give you the opportunity to pursue your passion within the organization. What you’re saying is that you went for it regardless whether it was a reward from the company or not.
Samer: That’s how it started. And actually, also passion drove and train to a change of mindset. We now have an innovation team that drives the passion within for employees for their own projects, it doesn’t necessarily have to do anything with du. So we advise them, we mentor them. And the company also helps us. So there is a fund that we use to get into competitions – external ones, more competitions. We recently went and evolved to such competitions. We got second place on a national competition. All sponsored because the management believes that we have to empower people in their own passionate areas and that can make them better and be more attached to the company.
Moustafa: It’s beautiful when you are in a place that your passion is being nourished. That sounds like to be the situation. But I’m sure in 20 or 20+years in the industry, you had a lot of tough times. How did you find passion in those times?
Samer: It was tough. In the beginning you don’t have a choice. You usually pick up the first job you get your hands on. And then, you know, you basically start to see what drives you, what makes you get up in the morning and say ‘I am going to do something cool today, I am going to add value’. That’s the beginning of the passion. Once this drive gets you up, not only every day but then you think of ‘Ok, I’m gonna change somebody’s life, I’m gonna make somebody, make sure that I add value to somebody in their life. That’s really when it becomes fully matured. That takes time. But if you start, just follow what your heart tells you and my advice, generally, is even with my own kids: ‘If you don’t want to do it, if you don’t feel like doing it – don’t do it because you’re not gonna do it right. Do it only when you feel and truly you believe that you’re gonna do something different and make people appreciate it. ‘
Moustafa: I love it! We all wake up in the morning wanting to do something that we want to do. As you said, a lot of times you have to pick up the first job. Sometimes that first job or that stuck job, you get stuck in for a while. How do you find that passion continuously? Rather than ok, maybe, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel becomes way too long?
Samer: So you try to create your own challenges, you create your own passion. You need to see what triggers that and you find those little challenges. Let’s give an example. When we first started there was a small group of people. I used to write blogs in the early days of blogging and I found that internal mechanism creating a small bulletin board that internally you can chat with each other. That woke me up, really. It’s not the next upgrade. It was the ‘Where the people who discuss today and discuss very hot topics, etc, etc.’ You have to create this atmosphere for yourself. Don’t wait for people to give you the passion. You have to discover it. You have to try and fail until you find ‘ok, this is an area where I’m going to be driven towards.’ And if the job gives you that, great. If not, take it outside and do your own thing.
Moustafa: True, I like that. Go seek your own passion in every situation, no matter how small it is and use that as a seed.
Samer: Very nice the summary.
Moustafa: Thank you very much! I really appreciate this amazing insight.
Samer: Thank you!
Moustafa and Samer: Passion!
Moustafa: What do you think? I would really love to hear your opinion so if you found this episode as useful as I did, please leave your comments on the blog below and share it with your friends. If you’d like more tools, tips, techniques and exclusive interviews that I only share on my website, go to Moustafa.com. Until next episode – live passionately!