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Shoaib Laher: The Customer King

conosco - Shoaib_LaherShoaib Laher is the Head of Account Management and Design at Conosco, although he’s notoriously averse to giving himself a title. Shoaib has been part of the proverbial furniture since 2006 and has seen Conosco grow from a small London IT support company to a market-leader in the outsourced IT industry. In fact, his best thing about working at Conosco has been “witnessing our evolution and knowing you are a key part of it.”

And a key part of Conosco he is.

“I started off as a Account Manager, moved to an Account Manager/Project Manager, moved to an Account Manager/Team leader, joined the management team and managing Account Managers to what I do today.”

“Officially, I look after the AM team and the Design stuff,” Shoaib says, “In reality, I like to think I do two things at Conosco – two very simple things that require a lot of time and knowledge.

  1. Keep our customers happy and ensure they have the best possible infrastructure they can afford.
  2. Ensure Conosco remains profitable  (And while revenue is important, we focus on customer satisfaction – it’s rare to find a company where the customer is so important.)”

When he’s not making clients happy during the week, Shoaib is a “borderline obsessive” golfer and a recent Dad to twins. He also loves travelling, which has seen him in a number of places around the world on the professional side too:

“After qualifying as a Microsoft Certified System Engineer, I worked as an apprentice for the Connection Group in South Africa in all parts of their business – including working in their hardware repair centers, working on their end user support desk call centre and eventually working as part of their internal server infrastructure support team.

I then moved to a small MSP – Praxis – based in Johannesburg where I worked as a field engineer supporting clients such as the Ford Foundation in South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Trust.

Following that I moved to working in-house at Westcon South Africa (part of the multinational Westcon Group, the world’s leading distributor of large brands). Here, I got a lot of exposure to enterprise networking and I started accompanying sales staff to meetings to answer technical questions on products.

Our sales unit smashed all our targets; and Cisco took notice of this success and asked for some of the staff (me included) to focus on selling Cisco products. This team became so successful that we broke away from Westcon and became a dedicated Cisco sub-distributor where I headed up Cisco sales and pre-sales for Sub Saharan, East and West Africa.

Seeing some of the solutions I designed and sold being actively used in developing various sites in Africa so rewarding. It’s hard to put into words seeing a solution you’ve put together for a remote school in Maseru actually live and working in person.”

In 2006, Shoaib was drawn to Europe by the World Cup and decided to stay in London. He joined Conosco soon after and hasn’t missed a World Cup since.

Top skills

  • The ability to look at everything from the other person’s point of view – be it an engineer, a customer or a supplier
  • A good understanding of both the technical and commercial sides of IT infrastructure
  • He’s worked for ‘all sides’ – vendors and resellers and part of an in-house team. “This gives a unique perspective and understanding when dealing with Conosco suppliers and customers”

Shoaib’s specialties:

  • SME infrastructure
  • SME IT strategy
  • On-premise vs Cloud
  • Hybrid Cloud
  • Cloud E-mail services
  • Connectivity

Special IT interests

  • Working directly with customers and shaping their IT strategy and infrastructure
  • Seeing the advice provided to customers around their IT strategy and infrastructure working to the customers’ expectations and businesses benefit. “Customers value this and in turn it gives them trust in me and Conosco”
  • Speaking to customers on a daily basis about their businesses gives insight into the various SME verticals: “This allows me to gauge how IT should evolve to suit SMEs, as I have a clear idea on what it is that most SMEs require”
  • Working with our vendors and marrying up this information with information from clients allows Shoaib to put together solutions and strategies for customers. “This is what I enjoy most and why I got into IT,” he says

Looking to the future OF IT:

Shoaib predicts: “Infrastructure is going to become more available, easily scalable, very mobile, multi-platform and completely secure. These requirements are key to all business from large enterprises to start ups. Any vendors that are able to easily deliver this will in a simple manner will last well into the future. As an example, Microsoft has adapted their business to deliver this with their 365 platform. Data and services that can be easily, securely accessed from anywhere and any device is the future. Virtualisation, intelligent storage and cloud solutions are where the biggest changes have been and I think these areas will continue to be key to the future of IT.”

Stay in touch

Follow Shoaib on Twitter  and feel free to fire away with any of your IT questions (or golf course recommendations).