'How I made it' featuring Shurjil Husain, Vice President, Head of Communications - ABB, Saudi Arabia
For our latest inspiring stories series, 'How I made it', we're interviewing the cream of the crop across all facets of communications and marketing. This is where you'll learn about how the best in the industry got to where they are today and hopefully pick up some tips along the way to help your own career progress.
We sat down with Shurjil Husain, VP and Head of Communications for Saudi Arabia at ABB. A senior Marketing and Communications executive with over 15 years of diverse management experience in the Engineering, Information Technology, Consulting and Consumer Goods industries, He has held Marketing and Communications leadership roles in Siemens, IBM, Accenture and Unilever
Shurjil holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has an MBA from Boston University's School of Management and was even named 'Top 40 Under 40' Marketing and Communications professionals in the Middle East and North Africa.
He talked to us about why early starts aren’t for him and why to succeed, you need to be comfortable with losing control…
How do you start your day?
Contrary to popular belief, I do not agree that waking up very early makes you more productive. I am not a morning person. I wake up, get right into the shower and then have a coffee and breakfast before going to work. I try to use the very first part of the morning to focus on the more challenging tasks including having those difficult meetings and conversations.
What personal attributes have most helped you to succeed during the course of your career?
Number one is not being afraid of change. This is easy to say but not easy to do. When I worked at IBM the CEO had a saying: growth and comfort don’t co-exist.
The second one is that I’m not afraid to try new things. Marketing and Communications is changing all the time and you have to be both bold and innovative. If you go with the status quo you’ll become obsolete – really quickly.
What keeps you sane on those crazy days?
I always make sure I take a breather and look at the bigger picture. If you’re having a super tough day, just take five minutes to reflect and introspect. Fast forward yourself in time and think about how you ideally think things should pan out and then do the very best to work towards that vision.
What career advice would you give to someone trying to break into this industry?
My number one advice is to keep exploring. Be inquisitive when it comes to work and don’t do something just because someone tells you it’s what you should do. Challenge yourself, challenge other people, always give your best shot and don’t be afraid to experiment. I think the people who experiment are the ones who go further and the ones who really grow in their careers. If you are the type of person who wants to stay in one type of a role for life, for things to be relatively easy and comfortable and for you to be in control all the time then this advice is not for you. You have to be willing to lose control at times.
What three words best describe you?
Instinctive. Optimistic. Curious.
Who, or what, inspires you?
I like to travel to many different places and often visit poorer areas and look at the lives of the people who live there. The lives these people lead make the struggles we face seem trivial. Even with limited resources, they follow their passion and make a living for themselves. I feel very strongly that the lessons from them are unparalleled in the corporate world.
What major challenges have you faced this year, or in the course of your career?
The first ABB FIA Formula E Championship race was held in Riyadh last December. It was a huge moment for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the first time a race had been held in the Middle East. And of course, racing is very close to the hearts of people in the country. ABB is the title partner of the Championship and the ABB Formula E is a natural fit between two pioneers at the forefront of the latest electrification and digital technologies. It is line with ABB’s commitment to running the world without consuming the earth. Our vision is to write the future of e-mobility, together, and holding the race in the Kingdom - the first of many - is a significant step in this direction. I had the opportunity to lead the project locally, working with a great global team.