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Tue 21 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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The new leader

Alaa Al Shimy, the new general manager for the Middle East at HP ProCurve, aims to triple the company’s business in the region by 2010, and has set the ball rolling to reach the ambitious goal.

Alaa Al Shimy, the new general manager for the Middle East at HP ProCurve, aims to triple the company’s business in the region by 2010, and has set the ball rolling to reach the ambitious goal.

Taking on the mantle of the leader in any organisation can be difficult, but if it involves as big and reputed a name as HP ProCurve it could prove to be an herculean task. However, Alaa Al Shimy, the newly appointed general manager for the Middle East at HP ProCuve, remains upbeat and confident about his new role in the firm.

"I have been playing leading roles in the region for the company. I know the company and therefore, I have hit the ground running," says Al Shimy.

We have a lot of plans for expanding our portfolio. We are adding to our security, mobility and switching portfolio. You will see a lot of announcements in 2009.

Al Shimy certainly does not lack for experience in the region. Previously an employee of Compaq, Al Shimy had taken on several prominent roles in HP before taking on his new post. Backed by all this experience, Al Shimy seems ready to lead HP ProCurve to the next stage of growth in the region, and he has several plans on what he wants to achieve for the company and how he will do so.

"We don't want to be a box mover. At HP, there is ProCurve, printers, personal computing, high-end servers, software, consultancy and services. This is HP's portfolio, and this is the direction for us. We are not  going to move boxes. We are going to understand our customers' business needs more, translate it into the right solutions, including the different components of the solution, and the network will remain one of these," states Al Shimy.

According to him, moving forward, HP ProCurve will not only be focusing on its switching range, but will also be working on mobility, security and datacentre solutions built around the networking infrastructure.

"We have a lot of plans for expanding our portfolio. We are expanding our security portfolio, our mobility portfolio, and we are expanding our switching portfolio. You will see a lot of announcements regarding a wider portfolio of products and solutions from us in 2009. The changes are being made in order to make our portfolio bigger, which will make us more competitive in the market, and this will involve more integration with HP to leverage its overall capability," states Al Shimy.

Supported by these new products and solutions, Al Shimy wants to take HP ProCurve to more places in the region and make it a bigger name than it already is.

"Growth is the main objective for us now and for that we need to have a footprint in different countries. Historically, if you consider HP, we have a footprint in almost every country in the region. However, ProCurve  has traditionally been squarely focused on three major cities in the Middle East - Riyadh, Dubai and Cairo," he says.

"Our strategy moving forward, and that is starting immediately, is to have more geographical coverage in the region. We will start to have more people on the ground in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and in other countries. I want to grow, and my biggest challenge is to get the most suitable and most competent resources from the market," states Al Shimy.

Al Shimy is driven by the objective of tripling HP ProCurve's business in the region by 2010, and he is putting in place measures to reach this ambitious goal.

"We are hiring more people in specific locations, as I had mentioned. To reach our objectives, we need more resources on the ground. I want these people to be in the specific country, and not working out of Riyadh or Dubai. I want these people to be close to the customers and partners, therefore we will be hiring in these countries," states Al Shimy.The sales force that Al Shimy wants to build will be a ‘solution-driven salesforce', wherein the speciality will remain within the technical community.

After having captured the correct market share and built the right footprint across different countries in the region, the company will start to focus more on vertical solutions and specific industries.

"We also need to have more educational coverage. Today, we have three education centres in the region. The plan is to immediately start building more centres, and to have around 12 by 2009. This is part of our short term plan - to increase our educational coverage and make it more accessible to our partners and customers," states Al Shimy.

To reach our objectives, we need more resources, people who are close to the customers and partners. Therefore, we will be hiring in these countries.

"The third element of the plan is to strengthen our channel partners, from both the technical and the sales side. We are going to place even more focus, and invest substantial resources, in working with our channel partners. We will be aiming at developing both their technical and sales competency," he adds.

As part of this push on the partner front, the company plans on re-classifying its partners, and setting its demands based on where they fit in the classification.

"I want to make sure that if we have a partner for ProCurve then they are the most competent partner, from the technical as well as the sales side. We will have joint account planning, and we need to have commitment and clear numbers on specific solutions and products. We understand that not all partners will be able to do that. So we will have category one, where we will be engaging directly with these partners," says Al shimy.

"And then we will have category two of partners, who cannot really make it into that high level of certification and investment. We are not dropping these partners, but, based on the classification, we will have a different programme for them. However, the threshold for our partners, in terms of annual quota will be increased," adds Al Shimy.

With these growth plans in mind, Al Shimy has also taken the effort to keep morale up internally, and confidence up externally, following the major management changes that occured in the company, both regionally and globally.

"My first exercise after taking over was to meet all of the team members, as well as our partners and customers. Our strategy has been developed jointly with the team, where they all contributed through a number of workshops, on our strengths, weaknesses, where we want to be and how we can achieve those goals. Everyone in the team has contributed to these, and we will execute it together," says Al Shimy.

"I also consulted with some of the key partners and customers of the company on the strategy moving forward, and we all contributed to the final outcome. I think our customers and partners are excited about it," assures Al Shimy.

"Yes, there is change. But the change is very positive, and that is the message with which we are approaching our partners and customers," he concludes.

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