Tech chief shares for­mula for a work-life bal­ance

The National - News - Business - - Front Page - Michael Fahy [email protected]­ational.ae

Hatem Hariri is the gen­eral man­ager for the Mid­dle East and Africa for Ju­niper Net­works, a net­work so­lu­tions provider. The Le­banese Canadian, who moved to the UAE nine years ago, has 20 years of tech­ni­cal, sales and busi­ness man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked for tech­nol­ogy ven­dors such as Avaya and Nor­tel. The 44-year-old lives in Mirdif, Dubai, with his fam­ily and has three chil­dren – an 11-year-old daugh­ter and two sons, 13 and six.

q How do you spend your week­end?

a As I’m based in a dif­fer­ent time zone than some of my team mem­bers, cus­tomers and part­ners, I of­ten end up work­ing on a Fri­day. De­spite this, I main­tain a healthy work-life bal­ance. I spend qual­ity time with my wife and chil­dren hav­ing meals, go­ing on out­ings, catch­ing up with friends, etc. I’m also a firm be­liever in tak­ing part in out­door ac­tiv­i­ties to stay fit, so I re­serve Satur­days for sports, such as bas­ket­ball and swim­ming.

How did you be­come a gen­eral man­ager?

My jour­ney in­volved a com­bi­na­tion of hard work, per­se­ver­ance and lead­er­ship skills. I have al­ways had large am­bi­tions in life and I knew that if I wanted to soar to the top, I would have to take risks. One such risk was mov­ing to dif­fer­ent coun­tries and learn­ing to em­brace its un­fa­mil­iar en­vi­ron­ments and cul­tures. This al­lowed me to work with col­leagues and cus­tomers from across the world while gain­ing valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery step of the way. Learn­ing played a fun­da­men­tal part in this jour­ney as well and I made sure I learnt not only through ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions but also the tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als around me, and of course my own short­com­ings. My jour­ney wasn’t a soli­tary one; the bril­liant teams that I have led over the years played a cru­cial role in mak­ing me the leader I am to­day and I am grate­ful for the best sup­port sys­tem that one could ever ask for – my lov­ing wife, chil­dren, ex­tended fam­ily, and friends.

What is your go-to gad­get?

My iPhone 7 Plus, as it con­nects me to the in­ter­net and the va­ri­ety of social me­dia plat­forms I am ac­tive on. Be­ing up-to-date with the lat­est in­dus­try trends is vi­tal to our busi­ness and helps keep me sharp.

What was the low­est point of your ca­reer?

There was not a low­est point per se but rather bumps along the road. I would com­pare it to an archer fir­ing an ar­row – to cover more dis­tance and gain more power one must be first pulled back. The chal­lenges I’ve en­coun­tered have only made me stronger and for that I am grate­ful.

What ad­vice would you of­fer oth­ers start­ing out in your busi­ness?

To be dis­ci­plined, self-mo­ti­vated and ver­sa­tile. The en­vi­ron­ment that we work in is highly dy­namic from a tech­nol­ogy and eco­nomic per­spec­tive and be­ing able to adapt is cru­cial.

What is your most in­dul­gent habit?

Al­ways mov­ing. I don’t burn out.

What do you have on your desk at work?

Be­side my lap­top sits a beau­ti­ful hand­made cal­en­dar that was a birth­day present from my fam­ily, filled with quotes about our life jour­ney to­gether.

What car do you drive?

A Porsche Cayenne.

How do you achieve a work-life bal­ance?

I make a con­scious ef­fort to es­tab­lish a set of rules that al­lows me to strike the right bal­ance. My guide­lines are as fol­lows: • Cre­ate re­al­is­tic bound­aries be­tween work and non-work items – have dis­ci­pline. When I get home from work I make it a point to ded­i­cate at least two hours with my fam­ily, no phones or lap­tops al­lowed. I then have dinner with my chil­dren and put them to bed. After they’ve gone to sleep, my wife and I re­lax with a cof­fee and dis­cuss the day’s events. Then I start up my com­puter and ac­tion any tasks that are pend­ing be­fore call­ing it a night. When I wake up, I spend a half hour ex­er­cis­ing, then check my emails while hav­ing break­fast be­fore head­ing out to the of­fice. • Make time for my­self. I’m a big fan of the out­doors, so I swim laps around the pool, go for walks and play a few games of bas­ket­ball with my chil­dren. • Spend qual­ity time with each of my fam­ily mem­bers. My wife and I go out for dinner, watch movies, go for walks and catchup with close friends. My el­dest son loves sports so we play foot­ball, table ten­nis, go bowl­ing and ride our bikes. With my younger two, I watch their favourite TV shows, play hide and seek, read books and take them to the park.

What are you read­ing at the mo­ment?

There are two books: Who Says Ele­phants Can’t Dance? by Louis V Ger­st­ner Jr and My Vi­sion: Chal­lenges in the Race for Ex­cel­lence by Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid.

If you could swap jobs with any­one, who would it be?

The UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral, so that I could do my part in mak­ing the world a bet­ter and more peace­ful place to live.

Reem Mo­hammed / The Na­tional

Hatem Hariri ad­vises peo­ple start­ing out in their ca­reers to be dis­ci­plined and able to adapt.

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