The Business Year

Masood M. Sharif Mahmood

UAE, ABU DHABI - Telecoms & IT

Beam Me Up

CEO, Yahsat

Bio

Masood M. Sharif Mahmood is the CEO of Yahsat, the Abu Dhabi based Satellite Communications Company. Prior to his role as CEO, he held the position of Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Yahsat. Before joining Yahsat Mahmood worked as Vice President at Mubadala’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) unit where he was in charge of corporate strategy and the asset management of all assets under ICT such as du, EMTS, Injazat, and Yahsat. He had previously gained experience in positions at Dubai Holding and the Executive Office of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

What are your management priorities? My role is to guarantee that our satellites function correctly and that we provide first-class satellite communications to a variety of sectors. As part of […]

What are your management priorities?

My role is to guarantee that our satellites function correctly and that we provide first-class satellite communications to a variety of sectors. As part of my job, I also look at how to expand the business, consider which markets we can enter and which potential products we can introduce. As we are a young company, we place great importance on this process. With an already successful regional presence, we are now looking at a number of ways to continue expanding the organization’s footprint on a global level.

Can you tell us about YahClick?

YahClick—the satellite broadband internet service—is our flagship product, providing high-speed and reliable internet to businesses, home users, NGOs, and government entities across the Middle East, Africa, South West, and Central Asia. We have already launched in 13 of our target total of 28 markets. YahClick will be fully operational across all 28 markets in 2014. Our priority markets are in South Africa, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Angola, and Iraq. We have also launched beyond these markets to include Tanzania, Yemen, South Sudan, Pakistan, and Uganda. YahClick is only one of the four services that Yahsat offers. The others are YahLive, which is DTH through our joint venture with SES; YahLink, the backhauling on C Band managed services; and YahService, which is the business service entity that deals with all government relationships and contracts.

How do you find the right human resources for these different operations?

We have talent inside the company with great potential, which is augmented thorough the international expertise that we brought here to assist in establishing the company. In terms of recruitment, our staff range from a mixture of homegrown talent to invaluable industry experts from other global operators. We have an Emiratization rate of about 54%, and specifically in the satellite operations area this reaches 58% nationalization, something that we are very proud of. Within our satellite operations team, we have staff trained over the past three years to fully manage satellite operations.

Who do you liaise with in terms of national universities?

The human capital (HC) team and the communication team are working together to make sure that we have enough events, what they call the “pull factor” for recruitment. They talk to universities like Khalifa University, AUS, Zayed University, and Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). We place a huge emphasis on working at ground level with the students so they have first-hand experience of working in a sector like ours. This can be done through career fairs, which is one thing, but having a continuous and deep relationship that the HC team is managing will give you the extra pull to attract talent. We hold a number of internships, including in 2013 when we hosted four students from the HCT, Abu Dhabi Women’s College as part of ongoing internship program. The four students were placed within our technical department and were given both theory and practical experience.

Would you say that developing the human resources capacity is one of the long-term benefits of having a company like Yahsat?

If you talk about the satellite industry, the satellite operators, you have the FSS represented by Yahsat, the MSS represented by Thuraya, and the Earth Observation represented by EIAST. In this environment, you have enough room to maneuver if you brought in, and developed, a good talent pool. Definitely, the long-term goal is to develop talent for the country. However, it is difficult to assess the efficacy of these processes unless we empower employees to perform the desired functions, and achieving the required subjectivity is a challenge.

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