From our Rockstars: A Letter from Zurich

Even a year ago, I myself wouldn’t be necessarily associating business, process (re)engineering, business strategy and other fancy business-y terms with a software company. And now, as I write this piece from a quiet workstation in Zurich- I understand how short sighted we can be.

Think of a software company. Now give me the 5 words that come to your mind.

Software. Application. Development. Codes. Geeks. UI. GUI. Computer. Web. Mouse. Clicking. Double-clicking. Computer screen. Keyboard. Hard-drive.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I covered all your guess in the line above. There’s a 72.8% probability that I did, and yes, I just made up that percentage.

Even a year ago, I myself wouldn’t be necessarily associating business, process (re)engineering, business strategy and other fancy business-y terms with a software company. And now, as I write this piece from a quiet workstation in Zurich- I understand how short sighted we can be.

Let me take a step back.

After switching from an MNC, even when I told my friends that I work in a software company, many assumed that my employers are just another outsourcing company; one of those companies that mindlessly develop generic/obscure modules at dirt-cheap prices. To be honest, that’s how the Bangladeshi IT industry grew. I can see this industry imitate the garments industry- another industry where we lie at the bottom of the whole value chain. True, these industries continue to grow, but in order to thrive, the key ingredient is missing.

Business orientation. Bam.

At SELISE, we’re a big fan of a certain Hubert Österle, and his 3 layered approach to a problem. For the less curious, in a nutshell this basically dictates that you to look at the strategy layer first. With a solid strategy, now you cross check to see if the right processes are in place. Only then do you move to the last layer, where you must evaluate if the right systems (i.e. software) are in place.

There is often a common inclination to sell a software as a solution to everything. While in some cases this still rings true, in most cases it’s just a short-term fix, and encourages similar myopic focus on features that might not even be relevant anymore in the future. Selling only software, as I have realized, is also tremendously boring.

I think this is where SELISE has been so great. We’ve had to work hard for this, but we’ve slowly gotten to place where we’re truly integrating with our customers to become their partners. We’re no longer content with just being zombie coders, and have learned to add value to the other layers – both strategy and processes. We love taking on challenges in its entirety.

And it has been wonderful.

We’ve had to work hard for this, but we’ve slowly gotten to place where we’re truly integrating with our customers to become their partners.

90% of the SELISE customer portfolio are foreign, and no, this time the percentage isn’t made up. From small startups to mighty industrial giants – SELISE had the pleasure (and sometimes, the displeasure) to work with partners of all sizes and needs. We’ve enjoyed the most success with partners who were willing to listen to our concerns, inputs and ideas, and such syntheses often result in solutions that are greater than the sum of the effort from both parties.

To all the business grads back at home reading this, all I can say is that this is an incredible industry to be in, and your skillset and business acumen can greatly pull the current players up the value chain. All you need is an open mind, a lot of common sense, and some super nice developers who’ll help you along the way.

As I write this, one of the projects that I look after nears its launch date. I have been with this project from the start to the finish, and what started with over-convincing pitches and dubious wireframes has now manifested into a fully functional partner portal that does not only look sexy, but acts sexy. Discovered in Zurich, designed in Dhaka, and developed in Bhutan – this project truly has been a global effort. Built on Ruby on rails, I have rarely witnessed such breakneck development, and I am just extremely lucky to know that I have talented colleagues who can actualize these digital dreams.

It would also be criminal not to mention what an absolute pleasure it has been sitting at our partner’s office here in Zurich, and collaborating on this together with them. Every word of appreciation spoken, every cup of coffee shared, and every issue intensely debated upon- all has boiled down to this. I have never fully appreciated my line of education, but BBA continues to surprise me (although I still label it as a lousy degree). Once you can find mentors who can shape you into global resources, you’ll find that you are equally capable to take on any challenge. As long as you’re driven, and as long as you stay tenacious, you’ll realize that you are capable to work side-by-side in any high-pressure environment that demands results and quality.

2017 is shaping up to be a massive year for SELISE. A handful of Bangladeshi grit, two large tablespoons of Swiss quality, a pinch of business orientation, topped off with a healthy dose of global outlook makes for a concoction that seems to be working really well for the company.

For now, I’m just happy to be a part of it.

Anik Arefin, the man behind the words, is passionate about everything concerning food and SELISE. A B.B.A. graduate from IBA, DU, he is currently rocking the show as a Business Consultant from Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

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