Impossible Things with David Terrar S1E6
DAVID TERRAR [00:00:25] Hi, this is David Terrar, and you’re watching episode six of Impossible Things with David Terrar. Now, why is it called Impossible Things? It’s partly because of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law that any sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic. And partly because in Alice through the Looking Glass, the queen talks about managing to do six impossible things before breakfast. So we’re really into impossible technology and all of the creativity and interesting ideas that come along with it. Today’s guest, I’m delighted to say, is actually Nour Shaker Fayed who I first met at Vodafone, but it’s just started a new job so Nour. Welcome. Hi there. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and this new job that you’ve got you’ve got?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:01:21] Wow. Yeah. So the last time we spoke, I was working at Vodafone, but I decided to make a move to kind of challenge myself a little bit more and bring more diversity of thought and bring into myself some diversity of business as well and into the world. So I was feeling a little bit more. Okay. I’ve been in Vodafone for seven years. It has been extremely my comfort zone. And I was getting a bit too comfortable, to be honest. So I said, you know, time to get on and do things a bit differently. So now I’m a Senior Manager at KPMG and CIO Advisory in Tech Arch “we do a lot of stuff.”
DAVID TERRAR [00:02:09] Okay. I must ask you about the CIO advisors, that’s interesting. But first, let’s start. I mean, I know that you could like a firm belief in that diversity as a topic is one of the things that actually kind of empowers business value. So let’s start there and tell me what you mean.
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:02:30] So diversity for me is something close to my heart, from my background, from my history, through my different transitions in life. I learnt to embrace change and embrace diversity in general. And has the teams start to look different and have a mixture of experiences, different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different sexualities, genders. I’m not just talking male and female, I’m also talking about non binary individuals. The conversation starts to become much more interesting. If you would start to think and address business differently. One of the things that we have been doing recently at KPMG is we were working on a workstream for one of the big organisations to do some reorganisation structure. And the fact that I was coming from Industria, I was able to shed more light into how things can be done slightly different. And that kind of enabled them to make a radical organisational shift. And they are now working towards to becoming more customer centric rather than product centric, which is a massive shift. And I believe that was possible because we had different people around the virtual room to contribute different ideas. It wouldn’t have been possible if we were all singing the same song. We’re all singing the same tune. You wouldn’t be able to do that. So, yes, change is is realised by diversity of thoughts that you bring in the room.
DAVID TERRAR [00:04:22] And there’s there’s plenty of research backing that up in the organisations that have a more diverse workforce. You can demonstrate the fact that they actually generate more revenue, get more profit with more on the stock exchange. So there’s a good business case for actually thinking this way. It’s good. Now, something you just said there is a I’m interested by as a technical architect, you talked about about customer centric. Tell me about your kind of approach to to that. You talk about the customer journey.
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:04:55] So let’s start with something quite fundamental. Basic, really basic. So you go tomorrow to buy a car. I love Volvo. So I’m going to give an example for Volvo right. I went with my partner to start looking around. So the first thing that you would look around is how do I start the car? This is a customer journey. How do you enjoy the feeling in the car? This is a customer journey. How is the infotainment system is working? This is a customer journey. So when you starts orienting your product and thinking around the customer journey, and how your customer will perceive and consume the service or the product, then things become completely different. We have seen a lot of organisations are product centric. They only think of how successful is the product. Well, the product will only be as successful as people consume it. So if you want to make her product successful, low and behold, you have to think about how the customer journey is going to look like. And today we live in.. I’m going to borrow one of your terms, David. We live in this swipe culture, right? So when people go dating, they goes, swipe right and left/. When you want to go buy something? Swipe right to buy now. So this kind of swipe culture is engraved now and everything we do really. So part of what we’re doing in “Tech Arch” at KPMG and “Mark, part of my Ethos” is how do we bring this culture and integrated within the technical architecture and the enterprise architecture that we’re doing. It’s not just we’re building an app. No, it’s much more than that. It’s a journey. And within that journey, will bringing forth everyone within the people, within the data, technology, everything. You have to take that all on board to have a truly successful digital enterprise architecture.
DAVID TERRAR [00:07:07] Excellent. Now, I know Vodafone, you very much building products for the internal market. What’s it like in your new job? Is it for internal KPMG or you doing things for external customers too?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:07:23] I love the culture at the moment at KPMG because you get to do both. It’s brilliant, isn’t it? So we’re currently working on a framework. How to how do we get back to work really in the office. But we also want to take that to our clients. So the same thing that we’re doing today for our internal consumption at KPMG. We’re taking this forward. We’re building an entire framework. We’re talking processes, assets, tech assets. We’re talking about a platform that has different customer journeys or user journeys. So I want to go to the office. Is it safe? Am I safe to go to the office? Well, what? Who are the other people that are in the office with me? Okay. Something went wrong and we need to deep clean the office. This is another customer journey, right? And how we bring all of this within a coherent process end to end? Not only that is usable for us internally at KPMG, but we’re also extending that to our clients so that they can use the platform that we’re building. And they can also use the same assets that we’re putting together. So it’s really great fun.
DAVID TERRAR [00:08:43] Now that that’s triggered a bunch of questions in my mind. But before I forget, what else have you found the difference in culture between a company like Vodafone and joining KPMG? What’s it been like has change?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:08:58] It’s really hard to describe. It’s like you meet two different people. Each one will have their own personality. Each one will have their own way of talking. They’re both brilliant. It’s just different. So I find it very intriguing to ask questions and to get involved in the culture really on daily basis. It’s like, how would I say it properly? KPMG has its own personality. Same as Vodafone had its own personality. And they’re different. But they’re also very similar. We talk different languages. We KPMG versus Vodafone, but we’re still sharing similar values. It’s a mix between behaviour. It’s mix of of skills and the mixture of core values that we believe in. And that would makes a personality of the organisation or organisational behaviour. Both are great environments to work for. And I’m enjoying my time.
DAVID TERRAR [00:10:16] Excellent. You know, very interesting. All the stuff about the shared values and the like. One of the things that’s really important for me for business is going forwards is actually having a culture of collaboration and encouraging cross-functional teams. It’s the another aspect of the diversity of thought topic that we’re that we started our conversation with. What’s the culture of collaboration and cross-functional teams like in KPMG?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:10:44] KPMG, everyone is welcome to contribute everywhere. So if you are having a special personal brand in one area, you’re more than welcome to contribute to art into other parts of the business. This is why we call it connected consulting or powered consulting. So when we address a client or when we go to a client with a proposition, we it’s not just one person that’s talking and delivering the proposition. There is a whole team, massive team in the back of that proposition to make sure that the technical architecture has been thought of. The technology piece has been thought of. The people element, a dimension has been thought of. The data angle has been thought of and considered. And obviously the legal and commercials are considered. So it’s not very uncommon to go to a proposition to idea now, let’s say, to a utility organisation or it’s a utility company and you will find different people from different backgrounds in different parts of the business contributing to the same proposition. It’s just amazing how this is happening. And it kind of builds, I’m an extrovert, right? No surprise. So I love getting in touch with people. I love engaging with people. And it’s just been brilliant.
DAVID TERRAR [00:12:23] Now, in part of your answer question, before last you mentioned something that I know is a kind of an initiative, KPMG, about restarting the UK. And you talked a little bit. So tell us a bit more about that. What the company is intending to do, the kind of things they’re actually doing in practise?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:12:41] Right. So let’s take a slightly more holistic view. Right. So a UK economy is over 70% services. So we have a lot of people working in offices and are eager to go back to work, either to work from home or work from an actual office. Well, when we talk about actual offices, how do we stagger this? And how do we make sure that our staff is safe? Everyone is feeling comfortable. And more importantly, how do we drive business value? This is why at KPMG, we started with something that we called the Operations Resilience Framework. So the Operations Resilience Framework addresses the organisation from different aspects. So we’re talking commercially. We’re talking technolog. We’re talking people. We’re talking financial resilience. How are you addressing these aspects? These different angles at the same time. And have that coherent strategic view from addressing a crisis now immediately to okay, we’re emerging out of the crisis to how are we going to do that in the future? So this operation’s resilience framework has been contributed to by will believe. I mean, it’s already known by the entire organisation, KPMG, and we’re putting a lot of white papers. We’re having webinars all over the place to bring that awareness to everyone and bring them concrete guidance. What can you actually do today to make a difference and to move forward with your business? But also, we decided to take that a little bit further. So we’re building an app, which is not just the app, it’s the entire framework and the structure underneath it. And it’s all about restarting the UK. Restartng the U.K. is how do we make sure that our staff, our people are comfortable getting back to work safely? That was the main statement that we started with. And out of this, we started to branch into the guidance from the U.K. government. We started to look at what other firms around the world has other sister firms and KPMG has been doing around the world. Those who are ahead of us, for example, in China. What have been they up to? We’re working in tight collaboration with the U.S. firm because we’re pretty much more or less on the same pace at the moment. And we’re building an entire platform, not just for KPMG, but for the wider client base that we have, not just in the U.K., but globally.
DAVID TERRAR [00:15:39] That’s really excellent. Now, one of the things you said that your new role covered was CIO advisory. What does that mean and what kind of advice? But what kind of topics do you get involved with a typical CIO?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:15:51] With a typical CIO, we start talking about what are your strategic objectives? Where do you stand today and where do you want to be? Not the steps that you want to take. This will come later. But we will start with something extremely simple. And in one sentence. One line. What do you really want to do? Right. Do you want to be the first? I now the first biotech company that is led completely by Artificial Intelligence? Sounds massive, but this is where we would start. So we’d start from such high level view vision and we start to drill it down into architecture, into how we would look at the three different lenses. So we talk about people, we talk about process, we talk about data, because without these three elements and obviously “untack” without these four elements, without these four lenses, there’s no progression. So what we do in CIO way, we take that high level view and break it down into four coherent work streams.
DAVID TERRAR [00:17:08] Excellent. Sounds good. Now, obviously, the diversity inclusion topic is is a very hot topic with you, and I know that in your previous company you had like an evangelist role on that topic. Has that happened in KPMG? A task with that as well?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:17:31] So I always say that I have two jobs. I have my day job and I have my gay job. And so my day job as a Senior Manager and CIOA, my gay job is to translate for the breathe network. So the breathe network as the network in KPMG that is working towards making sure that LGBT+ individuals are heads are visible and to raise awareness as well. It’s we’re not all about celebrating and being, you know, Fluffy Davi. We really want to make a change on the ground. And then we celebrate that. That’s fine. But the whole thing is how do we make inclusive environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable to be who they are, really? And that’s that’s the whole thing. If you cannot be safe and uncomfortable, where you spent, I don’t know, one third of your life, if you cannot be safe and comfortable there.Well, such a waste, isn’t it? So we’re making sure that we’re always making steps forward in that direction and never making step back.
DAVID TERRAR [00:18:41] I totally identify with with what you’re saying. And so this happens to be someone that I know that’s actually going through the transgender change, who is covering it at their current workplace, you know, because the culture’s not right to accept it and they haven’t figured out how to how to how to make that make that move yet. Interesting. So lots of issues around that. And I’m delighted that you’re actually, you know, kind of an evangelist for that. But I’d never heard of the breathe network. So that’s the thing that’s been going in KPMG for a long time?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:19:20] Yes, we are actually on the top 100 networks and Stonewall Index.
DAVID TERRAR [00:19:26] My bad for not knowing about it. That’s very interesting.
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:19:30] We’re there and keeping quite strongly as well. So, yeah. I think two days ago we had an event around “either Hobbit”, which is International Day Against Homophobia by Phobia and Transphobia. So we had a bunch of really brilliant speakers who shared their experience and we also ran a quiz, which was brilliant. So I enjoyed it.
DAVID TERRAR [00:19:59] Excellent stuff. Coming back to your room, your kind of technical architecture role, you told us a lot about the customer journey and how it’s I mean, it’s interesting that you should use the cars as the user interface example, because that’s one of the pieces of technology, which is, you know that, it’s been so similar for so, such a long time. It’s great now that we’ve actually got lots more technology coming in so that the culture really begins to change it. And where do we get to driverless cars or not? I don’t know. But it’s interesting. But when when it comes to the software development side of things, are there kind of approaches or particular technologies that you that you recommend working with?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:20:47] I would say there is no one size fits all. So this is why we start with listening to our clients, listening to our CIOs and listening to the different stakeholders within the client. Because, again, each organisation, like I said earlier, has its own personality. I cannot take what has been tailored for Vodafone, for Vodafone to wear and. Okay, here you go. It will fit you. No, it won’t. So we have to be very careful approaching a client because, again, like I said, no one size fits all even while whatever we do at KPMG may not work for another client. So and this is part of the beauty of consulting in general, is that you get to see different organisation, different personalities. And I’m talking about organisational personalities, different flavours of how things are working. And and you really become an insights… Hot spot, really. You have insights on every part where you go and you start to see. Oh, I’ve seen that characteristic before. Well, in this case probably is slightly different. So instead of using the SRE book right out of the shelf, no, you would start with tailoring few bits and pieces. For example, how you do dev ops. How do you do “def, say, ops”? Some organisations do not have the security function in general. So in this case, we would recommend, for example, having a security champion within a customer journey group or development group, and that person will be entrusted to make sure that security is adhered to rather than having a centralised security function. But then again, this is one way of doing it. And this is why I would say we do not recommend a specific way. There is no right or wrong. There is what works for the organisation and what doesn’t. Does that make sense?
DAVID TERRAR [00:23:01] It makes perfect sense. And when it comes to the technologies themselves that the newer technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and I.T. and 5G, that kind of thing. I’m guessing that all comes into the pot because every organisation you work is that you like. Right, you say is different. There are no one size fits all solutions, but all of those new technologies potentially could be relevant.
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:23:25] Yeah, absolutely. Some some organisations are more keen on trying to consume Cloud native services, which is brilliant and gets us busy on the Cloud space. Some other clients are keen on actually, you know what? We don’t really care where the platform is going to be, but we just want to use A.I. and Machine Learning. We don’t really care where it’s going to sits, either here or in the Cloud. Some other clients are. And this kind of became very visible during this pandemic time. They want to scale up really quickly for their I.T. infrastructure. And the logical decision was, we’re going Cloud. Right. So, again, it’s not one size fits all. It’s what would work for your specific business case.
DAVID TERRAR [00:24:14] Yeah. Not be prescriptive and to fit the right technology for the particular job ahead.
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:24:21] We don’t want to end up in a situation. We are where we’re being slaves to technology. I don’t want to I want to go Cloud because I want to go Cloud. No, it doesn’t have to be that way. We want to go Cloud because what are the reasons we want to. One, two, three, four, five, six, yeah da-da-da-da-da or we’re going to make a hybrid Cloud because one, two, three, four, five. It’s what the technology is able to do to serve the business rather than what the business can do to wrap around technology.
DAVID TERRAR [00:24:53] And it is interesting, the situation where we’re all in, where we’re like, you know, several weeks into lockdown to have money, which is, you know, lots of organisations have been pulled into Cloud technology, Web based applications, which we just weren’t used to it. And suddenly they’ve been forced to make a change because of today’s circumstances. And I think that’s a good thing. And then it’s going to create some permanent change. Do you agree with me?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:25:23] I will give you my answer in terms of a story. Right.
DAVID TERRAR [00:25:27] Okay, good.I’m on the leadership team and our church. Right. And immediately before lockdown, I was kind of having guys don’t you think it’s about time, to, that we have kind of a digital church workforce in play? Yeah, we’ll think about it later. Right. And lo and behold, two weeks later, everyone is thinking, OK, how can we go online? How can we do our online services? How do we get people together on Zoom? And I have been working with not only within our local parish but with with different parishes as well. How do we bring technology to serve the purpose of the church? Again, it’s not. We’re wrapping the service around or the church mission around the technology. It’s the other way around. How do we bring technology to underpin and start building up the church? And today we have a channel which has a, well, quite a few views. We’re talking about 200 views every Sunday and 70% of which are only in the U.K. and the rest of the 30% is from outside the UK. So when that when when everyone saw that not just within our church but within the diocese, everyone’s like. It’s a no brainer. We should we should all go online and continue being online. So an organisation as old as the Church of England. If the Church of England can embrace technology to serve its mission, I think every organisation can.
DAVID TERRAR [00:27:13] That’s a great story. As you say, a great example. Every organisation needs that needs to change. That’s. Excellent. Excellent. Dragging you back to your work job. What’s… And this is probably going to be my last question, because we’re running out of time. What’s coming up that’s really going to excite you? What’s next for you and your team?
NOUR SHAKER FAYED [00:27:41] I will not name an organisation, but we all will be working on a massive piece of technical architecture for one of the biggest financial organisations in the UK. And our goal is to make sure that they are customer centric rather than product centric. So we are going to build a three year roadmap of how things will be and how we can move from architecture A to architecture B. It’s going to be very exciting. A lot of things will be done for the first time and we will incorporate a lot of exciting technologies and yeah, it’s gonna be great.
DAVID TERRAR [00:28:23] Excellent. That does sound really exciting. Nour, it’s been absolutely fantastic talking to you this afternoon. Thank you very much.
DAVID TERRAR [00:28:30] Likewise, David. I can speak to you for hours, but not this time.
DAVID TERRAR [00:28:34] Thanks. Nour. So that’s Nour and her great story at KPMG. If you check back here on my Twitter handle @DT or at @DisruptiveLIVE and check out impossiblethings.fyi you’ll get more stories like this. Haven’t figured out what episode seven is going to be, but I’ll be tweeting about it very soon. Look forward to seeing you here again. Thanks.