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Off hours: InfoFort chief believes and achieves

Abed Shaheen is the chief executive of InfoFort, an information management solution provider. The 37-year-old from Lebanon moved to the UAE from the US in 2003 after receiving an offer to work for Aramex to grow its new, third-party logistics service. After six years, Mr Shaheen had the opportunity to move within the group to InfoFort and lead its expansion.

What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?

I enjoy socialising with my friends, meeting new people and going to the beach. Dubai has a lot to offer and is continually expanding and developing into a more vibrant and exciting place to live. There are so many different ways to get involved and take advantage of what’s going on around the city.

What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?

I don’t have a favourite hobby, but one pastime I really enjoy is reading. I don’t really like fiction though, most of my reading is related to strategy and innovation, two topics that are of great interest to me. Reading on these subjects helps me to continually grow and learn, both as a person and a business leader. I believe this hobby is a great way to blend both my work and personal life, and maximise my potential and keep me up to date. Recently I have also started enjoying literature and history, especially topics that are related to human nature and how to build a better society.

What can’t you live without?

I would say people. I can’t imagine how living alone would be. I tend to think I can cope with losing or living without everything else that is material.

What do you consider the secret to your success?

You can’t do anything without self-discipline, allies and a great team. Self-discipline is extremely important, and as long as you believe in yourself and trust that you can achieve your goals, with enough hard work and determination, you can.

What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?

Like Aramex, InfoFort was also born from an entrepreneurial approach. We believe in the importance of enabling and assisting entrepreneurs to create their own opportunities. This is the primary reason Aramex and InfoFort will support and sponsor programmes, initiatives, workshops and training sessions that allow entrepreneurs to succeed. For those starting out in the information management solutions industry or trying to start their own business in a separate industry, I highly suggest reading the classic Harvard Business Review article Marketing Myopia. The article gives advice and guidance on how to properly define the industry one is in, and how a company can compete and survive over time. For example, from InfoFort’s perspective our industry is information and data management, and not traditional document storage.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

I don’t really believe in the typical work-life balance distinction. For me it’s not possible to suddenly switch work on and off. Work is part of my life and the two are heavily blended. I try to make sure that I take conscious decisions to enjoy the things I want to enjoy, work included.

How do you relax after a working day?

I usually work out for an hour and then it’s either socialising or reading. Lately I’ve been experimenting with DIY (do it yourself) electronics and Internet-of-Things related projects. One of the projects I recently finished was building a simple circuit, that when triggered over a cloud network can play music, turn on a LED light or turn a coffee machine on. I also recently launched a youth empowerment platform,, that I work on after office hours.

Skillpowerment is a platform that aims to address the alarming youth unemployment and related poverty in the Middle East and North Africa. It starts with the premise that doing good does not always require financial commitments and that we can create impact through sharing certain skills.

If you weren’t chief executive of this company, what else would you be doing?

Travelling and exploring new cities or getting into academia and research. I would like to explore cities that have deep and long histories and to learn about the people who used to live there. If I were to go into academia, I would explore certain topics in strategy and innovation ecosystems. I’d like to find more solutions to real-life business problems that many people face, myself included.

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