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Leader Interview Sample

Leader Interview Sample

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Published by: Jijo Francis on Nov 29, 2013
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GBMP - 513: Global Business Leadership Skills

Project Report
Interview With Mr. Dariush Zomorrodi
Submitted by:
Akshay Idurkar Abhijit Gohil Hari Padmakumar Jijo Francis Sim Punia Sumit Pal Singh

GBMP - 513: Global Business Leadership Skills

Objective ................................................................................................................................................. 2 About the Leader .................................................................................................................................... 2 Interview ................................................................................................................................................. 3 Bibliography ............................................................................................................................................ 7

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GBMP - 513: Global Business Leadership Skills

The objective of this interview is to get some insights about the chosen leader – Dariush and his leadership style by asking him a few questions about how a leader can tackle some real life scenarios. We start off by giving a brief summary about him and then present the answers to the questions posted by the group.

About the Leader
Name - Dariush Zomorrodi.

Employment history - Vice President of New Media Canpages Inc, Chief Technology Officer-Canpages Inc, Chief Technology Officer-ImmersiFind Inc, Vice President of Technology and Corporate DevelopmentYellow.ca Education - Bachelor's degree in Computer Software Engineering – SBU (Tehran, Iran), Masters of Business Administration degree- Queen's University (Kingston, ON, Canada) (ZoomInfo). Brief summary of duties performed during employment summary 1. Founder Saban R&D (February 1996 to October 1998):- As a founder of this organization, he operated his own IT consulting business. He wrote a software package and sold it as a total
solution to health care institutes.

2. Database Admin, IT Manager and Director of IT - Yellow.ca (November 1998 to December 2002):- He joined as a database administrator, later he was promoted as an IT Manager and then he became the Director of IT.As a director Dariush served a crucial role in
the design and development of the online directory platform, enterprise systems that included CRM, Billing, Salesforce, Marketing management, Datamart.ca and YellowTech.

3. VP Corporate development and Technology – Yellow.ca (January 2003 to June 2006):He later served as VP in the very same firm where he continued contributing to the corporate development of the organization. 4. Chief Technology officer CTO and VP New Media – Canpages (July 2006 to June 2010):Canpages acquired yellow.ca and Dariush took over the role as CTO where he concentrated on design and development of online directory and local search platforms. He was also supervising
the new media department of the company.

5. Chief Technology officer ImmersiFind and ZipLocal (November 2008 to December 2011):- In the later stage of his career he started as CTO at ImmersiFind (November 2008 to December 2011) and at ZipLocal (June 2010 to December 2011) where he was pivotal in design and development of online directory for mobile search platforms (LinkedIn).

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GBMP - 513: Global Business Leadership Skills

Currently he is self employed as a Technology and Digital Media/strategist consultant. He helps clients that vary, from start-ups to matured financial institutions. He helps them in new ventures, for example to launch a new product or service.

What did he do in Iran? He started four different companies after graduating from Computer Engineering program. He was not officially trained on how to run a business. I was an engineer. However, he had an entrepreneurial spirit. In his last venture back home, he had no partners and he made that venture very successful. This is because he could truly do things the way he wanted and take the risks he felt necessary. He was able to gain his MBA experience in this playground without the academic degree. Means that without any formal Business Administration degree he was able to successfully venture a startup, purely based on his risk taking ability and intuition. He wrote a software package and sold it as a total solution to health care institutes. The software stores medical records for patients, produces reports and automates the workflow of the health care institution. What motivated you to move to Toronto and What was the toughest challenge faced by you while you moved? Dariush moved to Toronto, riding the Internet and DOT COM bandwagon. Start-ups were emerging like mushrooms in the late 90’s with all sorts of promising business models. He joined one of them as a new comer. His challenge was something that everyone coming to Canada faces, which is not having the so-called “Canadian experience” shingle on his resume. But unlike the most of them, as an entrepreneur, he had start-up and managerial experience along with my technical education. However, I wasn’t given the role I expected. So I had to work hard to climb up the ladder and prove my technical and leadership skills in action. It is said that for success in business, one would require high connections regarding the field. What are your comments regarding this? Dariush strongly believes that in an environment like Toronto, networking and connections are essential factors in the business world. He has always and continues to talk to people that he meets, even at non-business functions and establish his network and social circle. He says, “You never know when you will need to go back to them. I think it is not just important to have a network but also connecting people in your network with referrals. This will give you more credibility and trust among your network”. This is of Paramount importance, not just building a network but also maintaining a good and constant relationships, will help not only in landing a job but also life in general. Steps taken by you in order to help/support the new comers or beginners in your company/team? He used to teach at Seneca College continued education program. Almost all of his students were newcomers to the country just like him. So he could understand their challenges to
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GBMP - 513: Global Business Leadership Skills

upgrade their skills, get better in English, and land a professional job. At the time, he had been promoted to IT management and was the hiring manager. So to save his company recruiting fees, he had hired my top students after completing their course at the same college. After he got busy with his own MBA education, I stopped teaching at the college. However, he continued to sit on the advisory board, helping them with advice on what course material should be included in the college curriculum and he hired a few co-op students. He had the same approach with candidates who applied for openings in our company (newcomers to Canada) and were looking for a chance to prove themselves. What are the different ways in order to motivate your team? Dariush believes that Team motivation is extremely important, without motivation the team might not be able to do what they are supposed to do in a right manner. His way of Team motivation can be done by social activities as well as in-office activities. In his words “A successful leader should be able to motivate their team with non-monetary rewards. To motivate a team the manager needs to understand the culture of the members. In the IT world, we have people from various Asian countries and other parts of the world. So I had to respect their cultures and differences. For example, a happy hour drinking after work will not work for some cultures. I planned my social events around sports, sightseeing tours, team dinners and fun activities of this nature. This built a strong bond between the members and made them loyal to their team and organization”. How did you manage team conflict and subordinates? He says that Conflict management is one of the most sensitive aspects of leadership. He mentions “I tried to have a proactive approach to conflict management. I planned the projects and team responsibilities and arrangement to prevent conflicts from happening. If you pick your team members correctly and train them and give them the right task to do and monitor and coach them to be successful, they will not have conflict with others”. Although conflicts in a team are inevitable, the pro-active approach used by Dariush will be helpful to mitigate conflicts (if not completely remove them) that might arise in a team. One experience he recalls “Now I did inherit a team that was not perfectly balanced at the beginning. So I had to work on establishing the best practices to avoid conflict. I think some traditional managers think of conflict management as a reactive task. Let it happen and then we will deal with it. Or this is what we will do when it happens. I think that is not efficient. Conflict should not happen. Period. Fix your organization first. That is leadership”. What were your personal characteristics that helped you as a leader? Are there any unique ones that would differentiate you from other leaders? He has certain personality traits that has helped him in his career as a leader. He says “I’m an extrovert. I’m personal. I care about people. I show my respect to people. I am patient. I like to teach. I’m creative. I enjoy learning about art and culture. I’m active. And I’m also fun to work with”. This collection has helped him be a charismatic and an inspiring leader. Do you believe in Micro managing? What is your thought on employee empowerment?
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GBMP - 513: Global Business Leadership Skills

Dariush does not believe in micro managing. He thinks “if people are hired correctly, they should have the knowledge to do their job efficiently. Measuring this efficiency is the key success factor, not the details of what they do.” On empowerment he says “Empowerment is healthy only if employees have skills otherwise you are throwing them in a lake and asking them to learn how to swim. So empowerment should come with knowledge ”. Thus he says trained employees who have proper skills if empowered can go in the right direction. What motivated you to leave the job at high positions in your organizations? Dariush has always had a fear-free approach in all his endeavors. He says “I think everyone one comes to this world for a purpose. It will take us some time to know what our purpose is. We will get engaged in social and commercial activities to earn a living and enjoy our life. One day, we will come to the realization that “I’ve been there. Done that. I want to do something else with my life”. You see this approach more in entrepreneurs than others. In my case, I’ve been in various start-ups and lead small to multi-million dollar projects. This has given me the skills, experience, and confidence to take the risk and focus on what I think makes a difference”. These days apart from his consulting, he owns his own performance team, which represents Canada in dance congresses all over the world. He specializes in Brazilian Zouk that is a dance form derived from The French Caribbean, adapted by Brazilians and danced world over. In a recent venture his team called as dZouk Productions is now partnering with CNIB which is a non-profit rehabilitation agency that provides services for people who are blind, visually impaired or deafblind. The event known as Vision Dance Encounter will combine an event graced by Swing Dancers and Zouk dancers from in and around Toronto to raise awareness and funds for the organization. How do you plan to expand his business network as an independent consultant? How can people get in touch with him as a consultant? Consulting is a trade that is very much dependent on your network. He established his network over 10 years of working in the industry and going to business school. People who start consulting without industry experience and the network will have to sell themselves and work for consulting firms. Being an independent is not easy. He does not advertise himself as he has limited time and he is very selective in what he likes to work on. He approaches his network and/or they approach him, mainly through word of mouth. Any last thoughts/ Suggestions for the leaders of tomorrow? He states “I think leadership is not for everyone. Taking a course or a degree doesn’t guarantee a successful leader. However, management is different; you can be trained to be a good manager. An excellent manager over time may get promoted to leadership roles. This is a common pattern. Some motivational speakers say; “everyone is a leader. Everyone can lead”. However, I think true leadership is not that trivial. Indeed, it all depends what you define as leadership. In my humble opinion leaders are born with the ability to lead. They don’t need to take a course or go to an MBA school. Look at Mahatma Gandhi (trained in law), Nelson Mandela (studied law). They are examples of leaders who had it in them without being trained on how to lead some of the largest changes in the world.
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GBMP - 513: Global Business Leadership Skills

On the other hand, there are leader like Collin Powell (studied Geology with an average of C) and later in his career had the opportunity to do an MBA. These leaders also had it in them but realized they need a tool and framework to discipline them in their leadership role. I myself am in this camp. I have met many CEO’s of organizations with the MBA shingle that don’t have any “leadership” in their style of work and how they run their organization. I can compare them to Adolf Hitler (a school dropout). They may run a successful organization for a while and meet quarterly numbers but one day, their ship will sink. Leadership is a balanced act. To be a true business leader, business acumen is required, but you need to have necessary people skills and personality. ”

Dariush’s take on leadership is very convincing and as a matter of fact very true in practical sense. Leadership is a mixture various personality traits and as mentioned in the book it is both an art and a science. Dariush has accomplished quite a lot in his career starting from his humble beginnings as a Database administrator and then moving on to quite senior roles in the later part of his career. The fact that he was not from Canada did not hinder him from reaching his goals. He later went his own way as an independent consultant. Not only that, now he is also following his passion of dancing and is giving back to the society. We can conclude that he is one of the very few unique individuals out there who did make it in this world and living his dreams.

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GBMP - 513: Global Business Leadership Skills

LinkedIn. Dariush Zomorrodi LinkedIn. n.d. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dariushzomorrodi/1/398/b0. 27 November 2013. ZoomInfo. Dariush Zomorrodi. n.d. http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Dariush-Zomorrodi/554314774. 27 November 2013.

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