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If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the road to success often takes unexpected turns. And you should embrace every one of them.
The education I’ve received has taken me very far in my field, but life’s lessons have been as important—if not more—in my work here at Booz Allen.
Keep an open mind, whatever the world throws at you. What you like is not necessarily what you studied and what you thought you wanted to do. When an opportunity comes your way, just grab it.
Dr. Adham Sleiman leads the firm’s digital energy, cybersecurity, enterprise technology and digital transportation practices in the Middle East and North Africa.
His areas of expertise include:
Prior to joining the firm, Adham served as the director of technology service delivery at Musanada, Abu Dhabi and as a data center technology and operations consultant at Accenture in London.
Adham holds a Ph.D. in communications and signal processing and a master's in electrical and electronic engineering from the Imperial College London.
What do you do for Booz Allen in the Middle East? I lead our digital energy practice out here, our cybersecurity practice, our enterprise technology practice—the team of technology experts, enterprise architects, solution architects, etc.—and our digital transportation offering. So in essence, I have four market-facing hats.
What’s a typical project you might work on? We’re currently leading a major smart grid transformation program for one of the largest countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, developing the strategy for the smart grid and the operating model, working through the requirements and technical specifications for transforming the grid and helping our client through the procurement and implementation.
Why is Booz Allen an ideal firm for someone like you? I love Booz Allen because it allows me to not only work on management consulting and test those skills, but it also allows me to leverage my engineering and technology background into very hands-on, practical solutions for our clients. It sounds like a cliché, but the work we’re doing with our current clients is really a test of both technology and management. And it’s also a test of strategy vs. execution. It brings all of these together into one big program where you really have to crack the strategy and then make it live. That’s what’s really enjoyable.
What are some of the biggest challenges your industry faces? In energy, the main challenge is an underinvestment in technology, particularly compared to other industries like the financial services industry or the telecom industry. Then there are the threats to cybersecurity and protection of the supply of the electricity to the end customer. All of the key topics and trends of today are applicable here, yet this industry has been quite behind in investing in information technology. It’s playing a catch-up game. It’s definitely an untapped market that we can penetrate and invest in.
How do you help your clients prepare for the future? I think what we do best is that we really help them, first of all, be aware of these trends and what’s going on in the marketplace, and secondly help them organize their thoughts about how they want to tackle them and why they want to tackle them. We’re really thinking with them about how these new technologies apply to them, what the business case would be for them to pursue such technologies, and whether there’s any benefit in jumping on the bandwagon each time. It’s really important, being that trusted advisor who can help them think through their choices and decide where they invest their money.
As a leader within Booz Allen, how do you motivate your team? I like to encourage work-life balance—make sure that they switch off during the weekend and don’t get back on the laptop to answer emails. This is important for me as a leader, since you’re really only as good as the team that supports you. Making sure that your team is well coached and well looked after makes you more successful.
If you could give the just-starting-out Adham Sleiman one piece of advice, what would it be? The advice that I would give myself today is the advice I gave myself then, which was to keep an open mind, whatever the world throws at you. When an opportunity comes your way, just grab it.
When you’re in the States, do you have a favorite food that you like to eat here? I’m very adventurous when it comes to food and am willing to try out new dishes at least once. My view is that if other humans eat it then it’s safe and I should try it at least once. When in the States I really enjoy Tex-Mex cuisine and am always on the lookout for a great rib joint or burger place.
What’s something not many people know about you? I’ve learned to read, write, and speak Japanese. Having lived in Europe and the Middle East throughout my life, I became accustomed to Western and Middle Eastern cultures and learned English, French, German and Arabic (in its many dialects), as well as learned to recognize other European languages. In a desire to stretch my abilities and expand my horizons, I decided to take up the study of Japanese at university, learning a completely new language and alphabet. Japan caught my interest because of its unique culture of discipline and respect and the stark contrasts in its society between the very traditional and the very technologically advanced.