Get to know: Shahnawaz Sheikh

As Middle East IT channel stalwarts go, Shahnawaz Sheikh is up there with the best of them. After serving in both the systems integration and distribution channels, he has since made his name as SonicWall's regional boss...
Get to know: Shahnawaz Sheikh
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By Andrew Seymour
Sun 14 Mar 2010 04:00 AM

As Middle East IT channel stalwarts go, Shahnawaz Sheikh is up there with the best of them. After serving in both the systems integration and distribution channels, he has since made his name as SonicWall's regional boss...

What's your career history in the industry to date?

I started working as a programmer of Cobol and Clipper in 1994 before I got into my first sales job with a systems integrator in Saudi Arabia in 1995. For six years I worked for a couple of integrators in KSA and India, honing my skills in networking, data centre and messaging solutions. I originally moved to the UK from India to pursue some opportunities, but when that didn't turn out as expected I decided to go back and stopped in Dubai on transit. As fate would have it I ended up with a regional distributor (Westcon ME) in Dubai before moving to SonicWall in 2004.

How would you describe your management style?

My outlook is simple and practical. Plan, visualise and execute flawlessly - that is my motto. More importantly, I am a customer-oriented person with a helpful attitude and approach.

What is the best deal you have ever closed?

Being in sales I always believe that the best deal is yet to come. In fact that belief keeps me motivated every day. The day I feel I have got my best deal I may perhaps retire!

What do you enjoy most about working in the Middle East IT market?

There are many things I like about working in the Middle East. Firstly, Dubai, being a very cosmopolitan environment, gives you the opportunity to interact with people from different nationalities, cultures, lifestyles and thinking. Secondly, people in Dubai quickly grasp the language of technology. I am also excited about the ease and speed of doing business in Dubai.

What are your top channel tips for the next 12 months?

My tips for the channel for the next 12 months are to stay focused despite the challenging times we are in now, continue to offer quality service, and be unflinching and relentless in supporting the customer.

The results of such an approach will be more clearly visible in the long run.

What do you dislike most about working in the market?

I can't think of anything that I dislike having worked in the region for 11 years now. Every year I see new developments on the technology front, keeping me focused and excited about the IT market here.

What is the proudest moment of your career to date?

There are quite a few that come to my mind but the latest one is the success SonicWall has achieved in the Middle East. I was a one-man army when SonicWall started its operations in the region, but now we have a strong team of individuals in the region with a customer-centric approach to the channel and our end-customers.

How do you relax outside of the work environment?

I couldn't have asked for a better way to relax than with my sweet little daughters Sobhia and Rabia. One of them is learning to speak and the other is learning to walk - both demanding my attention! Watching them grow relieves me of all the stress of work and frequent travel, and it prepares me for another bright day ahead. I also like to find time for my favourite sports - cricket to be precise!

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