Working out of Manchester, Moneeb Awan leads teams in the UK and Pakistan as they develop software for a range of clients, and he knows the power of a good accountant and a good lawyer!
What is it the company does?
Rezaid is an ‘inshoring’ software house. We transform how SMEs work by digitising their inefficient processes and innovating their software platforms. Given the UK’s technical skills gap, growing businesses typically need our services. We provide high quality, experienced offshore project management and bespoke software design and development services through our Manchester based office, it’s an ‘in-shoring’ model that’s gaining traction. Clients benefit from local accountability and IP protection (through UK governing law) and affordability (through shared lower operating costs).
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As managing director, based full-time in Manchester, my job is to lead teams in the UK and Pakistan. The service has taken off incredibly well – in just 6 months we have secured £500,000 of new contracts. So, my role focusses on overseeing the business strategy by working with my senior team in Lahore, all of whom have extensive experience of living and working in the UK, to ensure our USP (namely our quality standard) stays in sync with the growth curve.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I was senior research fellow at University College London (UCL). In 1996, I was appointed Chief Scientist at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Cape Heart Centre, the site of the world’s first successful heart transplant. I was appointed to lead the recently formed collaboration between scientists in London and Cape Town.
Since then, I’ve built up a global reputation within the technology business world and have been recognised as the UK’s North West Entrepreneur of the year, and was also awarded the Microsoft’s People Moving Business Award. I completed my year in office as President of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the UK’s largest Chamber with over 5,500 members, in 2009 to 2010. I am also the former chair of the Institute of Directors’ North West Young Directors’ Forum, having held the position in 2010 to 2011.
Back in 2011, I took a huge risk and led two years’ endeavours and over £2m to invent a new way to make completing forms and capturing mobile data easier, which saw the launch of the world’s first mobile data capture service, WorkMobile®. In 2014, I worked to further develop the WorkMobile offering by founding an offshore software house in Lahore, Pakistan to help deliver the business’ technical roadmap. This year, the success of that project, Rezaid (Asia), has resulted in me launching Rezaid (UK), the exclusive partner of Rezaid (Asia), an ‘in-shoring’ partnership to help UK SMEs grow.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I’ve worked with some truly impressive people throughout my career, and I’ve noticed that there are different types of leaders, some you respect and admire, and a select few that you wish to emulate.
All the entrepreneurs and scientists that I’ve met are great innovators in their own way, but I find that you just connect with some people more on a personality level. Those people who are approachable and lead from the front by living the values they advocate are, for me, the most interesting type of trailblazers. All leaders however, need to be able to communicate their vision and show how they’re going to get there – ambition, drive and timing are ultimately the key to an entrepreneur’s success.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
For Rezaid, our biggest challenge has been educating directors on how ‘inshoring’ solves the real issues associated with traditional software offshoring. For many years, outsourcing back-office technology services to Indian technology firms received – often quite rightly - a negative press.
A few people, including my friend and Manchester-based innovator Scott Fletcher, have shown that by tweaking the offshoring model ever so slightly through introducing an integrated service that includes full-time locally based client account management, ‘inshoring’ leads to the delivery of high quality and competitively priced software services, genuine trust and responsibility. Combining these benefits, which you don’t get from the standard offshoring model, provides growing UK SMEs with vital resources to help plug their productivity skills gap.
For us, we do need to spend more time sharing with UK business leaders on how ‘inshoring’ – a blended model of local presence and offshore development – is rapidly becoming a win-win for many UK SMEs.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I don’t ever really feel stressed with my job – this is probably because I try my best to achieve a good work life balance, and I thoroughly enjoy the work I do.
My job often requires me to juggle travelling, being in the office and my family life. I have friends outside the industry to help me unwind, I love doing things with the family, and I make sure to grab those precious opportunities.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I probably still think, and act, as though I’m a teenager! I’ve always enjoyed sports and would have liked to have led some kind of life down this avenue - don’t get me started on football!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I don’t like noise – although I’m usually the culprit who makes the most! I do try to speak more quietly on the phone, or tend to like working in quiet spaces.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
In the next five years, I foresee the company will be offering its services to organisations in other countries, not just in UK – for example, in South Africa. I’ve lived and worked there previously and a good number of trusted contacts already there. We will need to set up a local presence in South Africa, like we have in the UK, to maintain our ‘inshoring’ quality standards.
We’re also aiming to grow to service large corporates, not just fast growing SMEs as we do at the moment.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Read lots, and network even more. The people you meet throughout your career – from colleagues and staff, to customers, suppliers, and other business owners – are a vital source of personal and business growth development. You’ve got to enjoy meeting and learning from new people. This advice would be the same to anyone who wants to be successful in life. I can chase back all my successes to networking and individuals I’ve met over the years, rather than it coming down to the technology I’ve used. It’s all about the people – technology is just an enabler.
Mostly importantly, you have to throw away ideas that don’t excite you and keep those that pique your interest. Keep working at ideas that ‘chime’ with you – things that make sense and resonate.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
We were lucky. When we started out, we were introduced to a good bookkeeper and a good lawyer. Business owners must aim to get the essentials right at the start – get your ducks lined up in the first instance, from employment and supplier contracts, to finance and admin tasks. I’ve witnessed so many entrepreneurs fail because they failed on the basics.
Ensure the company’s vision is clear and easily explainable.
Then you’re ready to start recruiting the right staff, working with them to identify the values you’ll agree to live by and developing a meaningful, healthy culture. Spend time creating a recruitment strategy that enables you to build an engaged team that’s bought in to deliver your vision. Once you have these basics in place, then you’re ready to grow.
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