Maintaining consistency and clarity of messaging to channel partners
As the Sales and Channel Director at SonicWall, Shahnawaz Sheikh manages distribution and channel in addition to sales and pre-sales teams from emerging countries. His current job role includes bringing SonicWall into the next phase of growth through his baseline of experience and success. His present goal demands the best areas of execution so that results are positive and rapid. The parts that give him the best job satisfaction are ensuring consistent and streamlined run-rate business growth, quarter on quarter, coupled with successful closure of projects every month. “Maintaining consistency and clarity of messaging to channel partners, across a huge multi-cultural, multi-lingual region, is a challenge that I relish,” he says.
Sheikh’s first big move into the regional IT industry was in 2001, when he joined the online division of Westcon Distribution. He joined SonicWall in 2004 and has built its business from ground zero into its 14th year running. Looking back at his career, Sheikh sees many successes, challenges and missed opportunities that he encountered. But if he was to pick one singular memorable moment to reflect on, it was at the very beginning of his career with SonicWall, when he had to establish and build the foundation for SonicWall in the region. Thirteen years after, he feels the efforts and passion that he put in at that time are still paying off today.
Sheikh started his career in information technology after graduating in electronics and completing a higher diploma in software engineering. His first career step was to be a programmer in Cobol, Clipper and Foxpro. Earlier in his life, while working as a trainee in a pharmacy, he realised that the subjects of medicine and chemistry were not of interest to him. Now well embedded in mainstream technology and the regional IT industry, Sheikh believes the technology hot spots across 2017 is Ramsomware, and how to save the organisation from sophisticated zero-day threats.
Sheikh uses a focused management style in everything he does, but is not inclined to micro-management. He believes in giving freedom and space for his team to perform, building mutual respect, alignment, and accountability. As a team leader, his management style is to lead by encouragement, motivation, and collaboration, sharing his experiences and knowledge with them. “My inclusive approach towards every challenge or opportunity has comforted the team, that they are not alone to tackle and overcome the difficult steps,” he explains.
With regard to destressing Sheikh points out, “Our industry has always and will continue to be stressful. The best solution to this never-ending challenge is to manage the inevitable stress to an acceptable level.” Leaving the phone buried in the car seat, while taking out a few hours to watch a movie with the family is a good stress buster for him.
Sheikh also believes he has been able to achieve a good balance between work and personal life, taking time out for his parents, wife and children, and friends. “The evergreen child in me makes me not only behave like a child but also indulge in activities with kids, family and friends, creating a laugh riot and fun for the day,” he explains colorfully.
Sheikh is also passionate about poetry, a trait he believes he has inherited from his maternal grand-father, who was an Urdu poet with a social message and comic content. “When I read his poetry, I get more pumped up to write my own few lines, applying my tinge of humor and creativity. In this way, I continue to hone my leisure skills so that post-retirement my thoughts and actions should be totally non-technology,” he reflects on the time to come.
Shahnawaz Sheikh joined SonicWall 13 years ago and has built-up its business since then.