Nabeel Mahmood is a Technologist, Futurist, Board Member and a Keynote Speaker. His career is driven by one question – what’s next? He brings over 25 years of experience leading large-scale global technology organizations through seasons of explosive growth via M&A, global expansion, implementing new business models and technology innovation. His area of expertise includes leading organizations through transformation changes, connecting IT to the needs of the business, technology innovation, Big Data, Cloud, ERP, IoT, AI, ML, RPA, Mobility, and Data Centers.
Nabeel is passionate about the power of technology to deliver competitive and transformational change and the need to develop digital leadership that will create the enterprise of the future. He believes strongly in simplification, with a purpose.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Magazine, Nabeel shed light on the inspiration behind Nomad Futurist along with its mission and vision, the driving force behind his success, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Nabeel, can you tell us about your professional background and areas of interest?
I am a true technologist and futurist at heart. I am a proven strategist, winsome communicator and leader with extraordinary vision and operational expertise within very large, complex organizations.
I am a strategic CEO identifying opportunities that are being underpinned by emerging technologies and an advisor to CTOs, CIOs, CFOs, and CEO across a number of industries. I serve on multiple boards of private and publicly traded companies including United Security Bank, SCB Global, Nomad Futurist and Critical Ventures and I am a brand ambassador for Air2O and Tate.
What’s the story behind Nomad Futurist, why did you start the Non-Profit? Tell us about the mission and vision of the company.
The Nomad Futurist foundation started as a Podcast and a media outreach platform in 2020 with the vision of raising awareness about the information technology sector and shine a light on these often-surprising journeys of leaders, propelled by passion and curiosity. Today, digital infrastructure education happens late in life in our industry – at best, some kids are exposed to the industry in high school. We realized that we need to change the paradigm and capture the interest of children – help them understand the space at an early age when they are like sponges and get them excited about digital infrastructure which led us to creating the Nomad Futurist Foundation.
There was a personal element involved in all this as well. Creating the Foundation was something near and dear to my heart and I realized that I have limited time on this planet. Some of you here have heard my story and I’m not going to relate it now but if you are interested, you can hear it on the July 11th 2021 Nomad Futurist Podcast — “Happy Birthday for the Third Time”. So, giving back is an important goal for us and our mission is to ignite a passion for the industry among younger generations. We want to raise awareness of the foundational digital infrastructure technologies and create a future pipeline of talent. The foundation’s key focus is on underserved communities — unlocking growth opportunities and career possibilities. We have started establishing dynamic collaborations with educators, NGOs, schools, trade schools, colleges, and government agencies and are working hard to create a global ecosystem of technology champions.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. According to you, what is the real challenge right now?
The extraordinary magnitude of data collection, the exponential speed at which data is growing, and our increasing reliance on digital infrastructure. We are heading towards a data tsunami and human capital deficit. There is a lack of awareness of an industry that is shrouded in mystery. We need people, we do not have a sufficient talent pool to meet the accelerated demands and ensure the technology leadership of tomorrow.
How would you describe your approach to doing business?
We realized that we need to change the paradigm and capture the interest of children – help them understand the space at an early age when they are like sponges and get them excited about digital infrastructure which has led us to creating and launching our academy which will be FREE to everyone globally whilst developing scholarship and internship program. To this end, we want to work with as many organizations as possible globally. We want to continue to serve as a resource and aggregator for efforts at the local, regional and global levels — providing support, infrastrucure, resources, and guidance, so that everyone does not have to recreate the wheel.
What has been the driving force to get you where you are today?
The driving force behind my success has been my relentless determination to stay ahead of the curve. As technology advances at an exponential rate, I have continuously sought out new opportunities to gain insights into the latest trends and innovations in order to better inform my perspectives on emerging technologies. My ability to look at the bigger picture while also paying close attention to detail has enabled me to develop nuanced views on how these cutting-edge tools can be applied across different sectors and industries. Furthermore, I am constantly challenging myself by exploring new ideas and reaching outside of my comfort zone in order to provide innovative solutions and drive positive change in our rapidly evolving world. With every step I take towards embracing a more tech-driven tomorrow, I am becoming a more influential leader in the industry.
In addition to keeping up with technology advancements, I have always been passionate about making an impact on society. As a Nomad Futurist, I believe that it is our duty to help shape the future and create a better tomorrow. This means pushing boundaries and leveraging technology to come up with creative solutions that can empower people around the world. It also means staying informed and advocating for progress by engaging in conversations with peers and experts alike. By taking actionable steps towards achieving these goals, I have grown as both a professional and individual. With this in mind, I strive to continue inspiring others to think innovatively about technology and use it to make our world a better place.
What advice do you wish you received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
I have been very fortunate to have built on the family, education, exposure and experiences, I have had over the years. Knowing what I know today and where I am at in my life, I wouldn’t want to change a thing ‘cause if I did; I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. However I would advise the younger generation to strive for success by channelling their passion and creative energy into tangible goals. This means having an entrepreneurial mindset by setting realistic, yet ambitious goals, and actively working towards them. It is important to remember that it takes hard work and dedication to bring these goals to fruition.
In addition, I would encourage younger generations to focus on continuous learning and development; this could mean enrolling in relevant courses or reading books related to their field of interest. Gaining a strong understanding of the industry will allow them to identify successful strategies that they can implement in their own journey.
Finally, it is essential to surround yourselves with mentors who have experience in the same field or expertise in business. These mentors can provide invaluable guidance along the way, such as offering direction when faced with challenges or connecting them with potential opportunities.
Looking ahead into the next quarter, I intend on slowing down just a little so that I can go faster in the future. It is important not to forget about yourself, family and friends whilst striving to make an impact. Furthermore I plan on speaking at more conferences and seminars related to innovation and technology. By doing so, I hope to share insights on how we can leverage cutting-edge technologies like AI, Machine Learning, Blockchain Quantum computing.
Coming to the big question, what’s next for Nabeel?
Most of my time now is focusing on solving illiteracy and climate change and working on my non-profit.
What are some of your proudest achievements in career till date? What makes them special?
Achieving global recognition as a top influencer and leader in the industry, being invited to speak at conferences and forums across the world. My insights on trends in business have been featured in leading publications and being sought out for advice from start-ups and or F1000 enterprise or being asked to mentor.
However, the proudest achievement has been the ability to recover from multiple medical, personal and professional setbacks. The ability to be able to get back on my feet no matter how hard it is continues to give me the motivation to change and be the change agent.
What is something that you believe now that has never occurred to you previously?
Let the imperfection be the perfection. This is the only way we can challenge ourselves and strive for progress. To push the boundaries of what is possible and make our mark on the world. To embrace life fully, take risks, follow our passions, and live with purpose every day as if there was no tomorrow. And if tomorrow does come, then live again!
One piece of advice you would like to give to aspiring tech professionals.
Strive for diversity in your knowledge and skills. Technology is constantly changing, and in order to stay relevant, it’s important to stay informed about the latest developments and trends. Developing a strong base of knowledge across multiple disciplines can make you a valuable asset to any team or organization. Additionally, having a diverse set of experiences will also help you develop creative problem-solving skills that can help you solve complex problems quickly and efficiently. Lastly, take advantage of the available resources out there, such as online classes, forums, and conferences to ensure that your skills are up-to-date and competitive. By doing so, you can ensure that your career will be future-proofed and ready for whatever the future may bring.