Get to know: Mohammed Abukhater of F5 Networks
Channel partners are vital to channel’s success as they add value and are key to customer acquisition, says Abukhater, regional vice president for MEA sales at F5 Networks
What’s your career history to date? How did you end up working in Dubai?
I started my career as a senior systems engineer for a local distributor. With experience in systems engineering, I took on various roles including systems engineering management, before moving to sales and management role in 2007. Prior to joining F5 Networks in October, I was regional vice president at FireEye.
If you could improve one thing about the channel business what would it be?
Throughout my career I have seen and experienced the importance of the channel. Channel partners are vital to channel’s success as they add value and are key to customer acquisition. Rather than change anything, I believe it’s vital that they remain on a path of constant improvement and both prosper.
What product or technology should the channel watch out for this year?
Cloud integration and multi-cloud hosting are two trends that the channel should be aware of. These technologies will help enable channel players to offer the right value-added services. If we look at the current mobilisation of cloud in the region, with the likes of Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, it’s clear that channel partners need to align their strategies and ensure they also have the security aspects covered, allowing them to not just remain relevant, but to thrive in the cloud era.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
Moving from the technical side of the business and into sales and management was the most significant achievement in my career to date. It represented a major change in what I do, and afforded me the opportunity to make a far larger impact in the organisations I represented. For example, it enabled me to build a strong channel ecosystem across MENA to help achieve double digit YoY growth at FireEye.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Two pieces of advice stand out: Whenever there is change there is opportunity, and when you hire, look for people who complement you rather than people who are the same as you.
What is the biggest mistake you have ever made since working in the IT market?
I’d rather look at the key lessons that have shaped my journey and brought me to a better place. I’ve learned that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential, which for me means spending quality time with my wife and three kids. Almost every weekend you will find me at the beach with my family. A healthy work-life balance doesn’t just make you and your family happier and healthier; it also has a positive impact on your performance at work.
Which IT company, other than your own, do you most admire and why?
I know it’s an obvious choice, but I have to say Apple. They have demonstrated constant innovation for more than a decade, combined with strategic acumen. They have thus become the world’s first trillion-dollar company.
What is the biggest challenge facing the Middle East IT channel?
One of the biggest challenges is the crowded marketplace which makes it tough for customers to choose the right technology. There is also a skills shortage in the region’s IT sector which makes it tricky to hire the right people in a timely manner.
What’s your favourite thing about the company you work for?
My favourite thing about F5 is our commitment to innovation, aimed at delivering our mission to make sure apps are always available and secure, anywhere. The company has a clear focus on this vision and has excellent ability to execute.