Technology and telecommunications have long been Rashid’s forte, and establishing an enterprise IT Services Company was a natural progression in his academic and professional journey. Rashid received his Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Engineering from the Khalifa University of Science in 2000. Soon after, he headed straight into the telecom world,accepting the position of Senior Data Services Engineer at Etisalat, the UAE’s leading telecommunications operator, where he spent the next seven years learning the trade. During this period, Rashid made profitable use of his extra time and completed his Executive Master’sin Business Administration degree atZayed Universityin 2005. He has won many accolades in his academic career and notably, the Sheikh Rashid Award for Academic Excellence in 2006.
In 2008, Rashid took on a new opportunity as a Professional Services Manager with Du Telecommunication, the second largest telecommunications provider in the UAE. By April 2011, he was heading up the Advanced Services business, where he played a critical role in helping define and lead service provider strategy for aligning company resources to deliver unique business and technology solutions. Once more, Rashid made the best of his spare time during his tenure at Du by developing his own business plan. Ixtel was formally established in October 2010 after a strong business plan was funded by Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and supported by Dubai SME, a branch of the Department of Economic Development.“I am very proud to be a member of Khalifa Fund and I would like to thank all of our great leaders for their vision, direction, and leadership in helping to create such institutions.” He says. When asked what motivated him to start his own business, Rashid responds by saying, “An entrepreneur is one who plays a significant role in the economic development of a country. With my 15 years of consulting experience in IT and communications, I would like to take this knowledge and help contribute to the vision our great leaders have of developing a strong knowledge-based economy.”
When asked where Rashid got his business idea from, he explains; “I noticed that the services on offer from service providers failed to address the core needs of customers. They also lacked transparency and consistency, and often failed to provide a differentiated service and great customer experience that customers were yearning for.To address this, I’ve pulled together an expert team with deep local and international knowledge to help serve our customers with a passionate commitment to delivering superior customer experience. At Ixtel, we provide the next generation of IT services that are tailored to individual customers’ needs.”
Today, Ixtel furnishes solutions to enterprises of all sizes, including international businesses and telecom service providers. The company has positioned itself as the only UAE-based IT business of its kind with a global reach.Ixtel is an acronym that stands for Information (I) and (X) Telecommunication (TEL). The company’s vision is “To be the world leader in the provision and management of IT infrastructure service” and its mission, “To be the IT service provider of choice for the GCC’s (Gulf Cooperation Council) leading organisations.” Rashid claims that, “Our strength lies in our ethos of: Doing more. Guaranteed.”
With offices in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Ixtel offers a cloud-based service delivery platform that allows companies to transform service delivery, enhance customer experience, and generate new revenues through support automation.Rashid has partnered with various leading and upcoming technology firms from around the world in his goal to deliver the best solutions and to position his company as the knowledge leader in the region.
Today, Rashid’s business employs 35 people.As of last year, it has started to report positive cash flow through the delivery of valuable and innovative IT services to about 1,000 private and government customers across the UAE.Ixtel’s service portfolio has expanded to include consulting services (in architecture and design, enterprise computing, and internet working), system integration services (cloud computing and utility services, infrastructure, virtualization, and network and security),in addition to, infrastructure management services. After establishing his company locally, he is now working on expanding across the Gulf region and beyond.
When asked about the challenges he faced in establishing his own business, Rashid says. “The biggest challenges that I have faced have been raising capital, assembling a team, finding the right location, finding the right employees, overcoming competition, keeping up with industry changes and trends, and exiting the business. Every business and leadership role encounters obstacles.It is how we learn, overcome, and ultimately transform such obstacles into opportunities of a life time that matters!”
We went on to ask Rashid how he obtains a healthy work-life balance with the stresses that come with starting a business, to which he responded;“Starting your own business can be a long, stressful, and arduous process. Despite the rewards and fulfilling benefits, the pressures of being an entrepreneur will definitely put a strain on your life. It always feels like there are a million things to do and the clock is against you. It is easy to neglect your health and your family life as you spend your time dealing with emergencies.”
In discussing his coping mechanisms, Rashid has some simple yet highly effective principles: “Time is the most valuable commodity in life; it is the one thing you cannot buy more of. So, don’t waste time. Focus on what really matters.”He also adds to this by saying, “I don’t bring my mobile phone to the dinner table. When I am on vacation, I am on vacation. I don’t carry my tablet to the beach.I pace my life.There are times when I need to throttle up and there are times when I need to throttle down. Self-awareness is crucial.”
We asked Rashid if he feels Abu Dhabi is a good place to start a business today, and if so, what environmental factors contribute to it.“Absolutely!”he exclaims. “The Abu Dhabi government has launched a number of new initiatives to support and strengthen the entrepreneurship culture among young UAE nationals in the capital.” Rashid is currently a board member at the Emirati Entrepreneurs Association, a group that aims to attract and encourage more Emirati youths to establish quality businesses that serve the national economy across different industries.
We enquired about what he thought the main factors are that hold Emiratis back from starting up their own businesses. He explained, “I believe that the new generation lacks the required focus and they do not readily take the initiative. Finding the motivation to set up a business might be another factor that holds them back, and finally, I also believe that the new generation of youth has unrealistic expectations of quick returns. They want things their way, and they want it now.”by