Hanan Darwish: Committed to organisational and personal goals
Transforming Schneider Electric from a product to a solutions company, while supporting its channel partners in this journey, is presenting an exciting part of the job role for Hanan Darwish, Gulf and Pakistan, Schneider Electric.
As President of the Gulf and Pakistan cluster, Hanan Darwish handles the day-to-day operations of one of Schneider Electric’s largest clusters in the Middle East and Africa. In her role, she directs the cluster’s profits and losses, and business opportunities in cooperation with each country manager.
Working together with the country managers, she develops key performance indicators for sales and channel targets, talent performance, and delivers on the organisation’s commitment for corporate social responsibility.
“This is not a classical job. I like to bring new ideas and innovations to open new doors and address business challenges, especially in emerging markets with geopolitical and economic challenges,” says Hanan. “Our customers across the region face three key challenges and opportunities: digitization, de-carbonisation, and de-centralisation.”
Clean energy is one of the top priorities in the region, with strong and increasing demand, leading organisations to prioritise energy efficiency and reliability.
Since taking on the role of President of the Gulf and Pakistan cluster in 2017, Hanan has been driving a new business model that aims to change Schneider Electric’s image from a product company to a solutions provider, with a focus on how its EcoStruxure solution can enable green technology.
EcoStruxure is an architecture that uses Internet of Things to make buildings, data centres, industries, and infrastructure safer, and more sustainable, and connected. EcoStruxure incorporates three main solutions: Connected Products, such as sensors and smart grid networks; Edge Control, connecting information across the energy transmission process; and Apps, Analytics, and Services that allow organisations to analyse data in real-time for actionable insights.
For Hanan, “Transforming Schneider Electric in the Gulf and Pakistan from a product company to a solutions company that enables digital transformation, is one of the most exciting challenges across my 18-year career at Schneider Electric. Supporting channel partners is vital in this transformation, as a majority of business in the Gulf and Pakistan cluster is channel-led.”
Hanan started her career in the company’s Gulf region as Human Resources Director, and followed through stints in North East Africa, France, North America. Currently, she is building on those experiences to come full circle back to the Gulf and Pakistan. One of the biggest challenges in such a wide-ranging Gulf and Pakistan cluster is localising solutions to the unique challenges of each country.
When Hanan joined Schneider Electric in 2000, the company was not considered a technology company. Over the last five to ten years, green energy has seen increased importance and take-up. Prior to working for Schneider Electric, Hanan worked in the fast-moving consumer goods field at Procter and Gamble. Schneider Electric presented an exciting opportunity to bring smart cities and digital utilities technology up to date, while transforming from a products company to a software solutions company on a global scale.
“My management philosophy is leading by example and empowering the team. I am not a micro-manager. Business leaders need to work together to continue clarifying and measuring their goals, and also align with the wider business goals. Teamwork requires more than working together, it requires leaders to build trust and confidence with executives. As part of this team-building process, there needs to be clear decision-making processes and expectations. We want to build a healthy organisation, and we want to ensure that we have the right team members with the right work ethic and values to step into the roles and succeed,” elaborates Hanan.
The biggest technology trend for 2018 is Artificial Intelligence, which will be integrated through every product and edge computing solution in green technology and sustainability. On the back of Schneider Electric’s recent global summit in Paris, a key topic that was discussed and debated was how artificial intelligence can complement the workforce to simplify processes and give customers real-time insights.
These insights can lead to actions to enhance sustainability, energy efficiency, machine reliability, and talent development, and reduce carbon emissions.
Another vital technology trend for 2018 will be cybersecurity, and how organisations need to reduce their threat exposure. Organisations should also collaborate with technologies, tools, and processes to protect critical national infrastructure across energy generation, transmission, and delivery.
During her career, Hanan has never thought about gender bias. Her belief is that bias is everywhere, not just between men and women, also between women and between generations. Her advice is that, women should focus on being competitive in their own capabilities, and align with supportive leaders who appreciate and reward a strong work ethic.
“It is more important for women to develop their capabilities to move up in careers, and understand, integrate, and adapt to corporate cultures. I am also a strong believer in taking chances on young women becoming leaders, and promoting them into key positions,” she adds.
Hanan is supportive of Schneider Electric’s goals to build a diverse and inclusive workforce in the Gulf and Pakistan. The HeForShe programme commitments support a global family leave policy, gender pay equity process, and women’s employment in energy in emerging countries.
Women should understand that it is their personal choice to pursue leadership positions. Women should not be afraid to be themselves, as character and diversity bring a lot to the business table. In turn, organisations should also embrace different cultures and lifestyles.
Organisations and their channel partners should have a commitment to supporting gender-balanced workplaces, and integrating women in their career paths, especially by fostering an environment with a healthy work-life balance. Women should prepare to manage key life moments such as marriage, and motherhood, and also align with organisations that are accommodating for their career evolution.
After work, Hanan spends as much as time as possible with her family and supporting her children. She also enjoys spending time with her dog, and participating in water sports.
As a yoga instructor, Hanan views stress in life objectively. “Stress is often a short-term condition that is frequently generated by each person. I believe in the power of yoga to manage stress better and support a positive outlook on work and life. We should resolve stressful situations as quickly as possible,” she advises.