Don’t get into the trap of “studying resilience” — it must be acted on and practiced in real-world situations. Sometimes, we get trapped in endless meetings talking about the need for resilience with no one being resilient. Instead, challenge yourself and your colleagues to be problem solvers not problem reporters.
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market. I had the pleasure of interviewing Emad Georgy
Emad Georgy is an expert in the execution of technology product development, digital transformation and leadership development for all levels of IT staff, from coders to CTOs. His hybrid approach to technology management, focusing on both the practical and cultural elements of leadership, makes Emad a trusted and valued partner helping both domestic startups and global enterprises scale and grow. He is proficient in talent assessment, tangible leadership and organizational development, as well as data engineering and analytics pipelines, modernizing legacy applications, re-architecture, cloud migrations, DevOps and API integrations. Named a Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader, Emad is developing tomorrow’s industry leaders.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
Ihave always been interested in computers and the evolution of technology. But, I would say that I first got involved in computer science when I taught myself how to code at age 11 and I have been coding ever since! Since those early years, I have become committed to the advancement of technology and incredibly passionate about leadership development in the tech field.
I consider myself to be a hands-on, execution-focused, CTO advisor and consultant. Following my work as a CTO at Experian and Wolters Kluwer, I have continued to dedicate myself to leading large-scale transformations in software development, QA, architecture, Agile, DevOps and Operations.
As I have continued to advance leadership development in technology, I have been named a Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. I am also a Scrum Alliance Speaker, mentored by Ken Schwaber.
I have participated in a Cloudera-featured video case study on real-time view of the customer — being one of the first 50 to implement Hbase into production globally. I have conducted research recognized by IBM for a technical debt model using predictive analytics that were later incorporated into the Rational Rose product. I also had to opportunity to contribute to .Net code to Windows XP OS as well as numerous other Microsoft product lines.
My work has taken me down many different paths, but my love for computer science and my dedication to its advancement and leadership development has continued to serve as a driving force for me throughout my career.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
One of my favorite memories is when I took a group of mainframe developers, written off by the company, and trained them in Java, Agile, and Hadoop/Hbase. With this new knowledge we were all able to build the industry’s first real-time digital linkage engine in less than eight months. We were recognized with numerous awards for our achievement and were even given the opportunity to have a video case study done about our work by Cloudera.
The opportunity was an incredible learning experience and further reflected my belief that no matter what team or organization you are working with, there are always what I call “hidden gems” present. By this, I mean there are both people and code assets that can provide optimal value for the company if given the right tools and opportunities.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
At Georgy Technology Leadership, our consulting practice focuses on technology leadership born through years of execution knowledge and transformation. We have standardized what makes a good CTO and/or technology leader, and we coach against that baseline so growth is tangible.
We also base our audits and our transformation projects on a playbook used over many years, across a number of global transformations. We focus on the question: What makes a healthy technology strategy?
We believe that the answer lies in customer focus, durable architecture, a solid people strategy and pragmatic Agile. We are able to do this by espousing the principles of feedback loops, measuring, learning from the measurement, and changing from that learning. All of this goes into cultivating leadership within the technology field.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I owe much of my success to the people that I have worked with over the years — those who came into my path and believed in me and gave me an opportunity to succeed. I remember, as a young consultant just out of college working for KPMG, I had a great mentor who really helped develop the skills that I still utilize to this day. She was an older, more experienced Senior Manager who was able to offer me the advice and knowledge that can only be acquired with years of experience.
I attended my first mentoring session with her just to check the box — I was happy as a developer and had no plans for growth otherwise. Just to satisfy her prodding, I blurted that I wanted to be a manager someday. Without flinching, she immediately responded, “And why not VP? Or CTO?”
I walked out of that session, now over 20 years ago, thinking differently — my thoughts for the future expanding and believing that I had a major impact to play in my industry.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the courage to meet the demands of reality. Sometimes the reality of a situation is hard to handle, but being able to meet the challenge head-on with determination is what makes someone truly resilient.
Resilience is about believing in something greater than yourself — when reality doesn’t quite meet the vision, you have to have something to hang on to that drives you and/or your team forward. Resilient people know that today is just part of a larger story and therefore they press on. Resilient people see problems as opportunities and actually have a hunger for challenges and seek them out.
Resilient people have a sense of humor, too. They’re able to inject tactful humor, even in times of turmoil, to provide perspective.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
For me, it is most definitely my parents. They immigrated to this country when I was an infant with nothing but a dream and a vision for the future of their family. With the determination to give me a better life, they invested in a beat-up computer for a 11-year-old kid who had no idea what a computer really was.
They had a vision and they stuck to it. They worked their butts off every day to ensure I had all the best opportunities. They pushed me in my academics even when they didn’t know the academics themselves. They taught me what it meant to be resilient — to have the resolve to keep pushing through every challenge with the vision of something greater on the other side. They made me what I am today.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
This is something that I experience every day! I see it as a challenge to be conquered and seek out those people and situations. I love being told something is impossible and I have been fortunate in my career to be able to partake in a number of these so-called “impossible” transformations. I am grateful that I have been able to play a role in people’s careers evolving as a result of these “impossible” tasks.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I worked full-time through college and thought, post-graduation, I would be promoted. My co-workers loved me and were actually preparing for a celebratory party that night. Instead, my boss called me in and informed me that not only was I not getting the promotion, but I was getting laid off. I was crushed.
The entire experience was disheartening and I explored even the possibility that I had perhaps chosen the wrong career. However, I instead worked my network and landed a near-impossible interview with KPMG and eventually got the job, which helped launch my career even further.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
See above response regarding my parents.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Practice, practice, practice. Seek out situations that test your resilience physically, mentally or emotionally. Ask for hard assignments. The projects no one wants. The teams no one wants. And optimize and maximize value from the resources given.
- Do a retrospective. Step out of yourself and analyze how you react to situations that test your resilience. Ask: How did I handle it? How could have I handled it better? Etc. Then, ask the team to give you an on-the-spot evaluation as well. Ask them: How did I measure up in our Accountability value as a leader? Feedback loops are important
- Seek out growth opportunities physically — it’s proven that if we test our bodies through challenges (and that could be anything) it fuels and facilitates our belief in ourselves in other aspects of life. For example, I like to do survival camping and hiking to test my limits physically and, when I’m able to accomplish a feat, I walk into work with that much more confidence.
- Seek out mentors — Identify people whom you know are resilient. Start local with someone perhaps you admire in your company or your industry. Have them walk you through examples in their life.
- Don’t get into the trap of “studying resilience” — it must be acted on and practiced in real-world situations. Sometimes, we get trapped in endless meetings talking about the need for resilience with no one being resilient. Instead, challenge yourself and your colleagues to be problem solvers not problem reporters.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to help inspire others to strive for dreams that they did not even know they had. I want to help ordinary people grow and evolve into leaders. I think that it is incredibly important to have a support network for leaders to learn from one another and strive to be better.
I want to help other leaders understand the balance between accountability and encouragement and remember to have the courage to bring truth to reality and inspire durable change in people and in organizations.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would have to say that the person whom I would want to have a private breakfast or lunch with would be Bill Gates. He has become an enigma in the world of technology, — fueling some of the next big ideas to create a better world. I would really want to understand more about his early years, when no one believed in Microsoft, and he really had work to earn the respect of his peers. I am also impressed by his ability to find the greatest minds in whatever field that he is interested in and learns about what ways he can help to advance that particular field.
I would also love to learn more about the humanitarian work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I believe it is a responsibility of all leaders to acknowledge the importance of humanitarian aid and encourage the development of new technologies to help some of the less advanced areas of the world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can follow me on LinkedIn.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!