Tech chief shares formula for a work-life balance
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.
Hatem Hariri advises people starting out in their careers to be disciplined and able to adapt.