The future of digital transformation – SPJ Alumni Spotlight with Shameer Thaha

Shameer Thaha (GMBA – IT 2009) is the Global Chief Strategy Officer of Accubits, an award-winning global leader in digital transformation focused on emerging technologies. He is an advisor at the Global Skill Development Council and selectively advises high potential companies with their digital transformation initiatives and, blockchain & AI implementations.

Shameer Thaha (Global MBA 2009)

He is a published author and a speaker at global conferences evangelising tech for humanity. The company is driven by a vision to liberate 7 billion creative minds. He has personally overseen digital transformation for large enterprises and federal governments. The diverse work Accubits is involved in ranges from work on a pandemic management platform with the Government of Cameroon to launching an enterprise blockchain satellite node to launching NFT marketplaces and metaverses.

Shameer enjoys the outdoors, experiencing great food with his lovely wife, Zafreena, his 9-year-old son, Rehan, and his 4-year-old daughter, Maryam. He’s an avid reader and mostly indulges in management, productivity and self-help books. He also speaks at global conferences, writes blogs and has published one book and has two in the works. 

We caught up with him to learn more about his vision and received quite an impressive and experienced walkthrough of Shameer’s leadership journey. Let’s take a look.

Q. Could you give us a brief introduction of yourself? 

I completed my Engineering from Kerala University in 2005. I went on to pursue my first job with Infosys, where I worked in the retail business unit with clients such as Blockbuster Online. This was my first real-life learning about how businesses needed to be relevant with the times. 

In 2009, I graduated with a Global MBA from SP Jain School of Global Management with a specialisation in IT Management. Graduating in 2009 thrusted our entire batch into an incredibly challenging time with the financial crisis. With limited placement opportunities, I was presented with an interesting opportunity with a Chinese Singaporean firm to expand its business operations into India.

With no prior business development experience or training, I had to prove myself in this company that was a design supplier for the Beijing Olympics and was looking to work with the Commonwealth Games in India. We expanded our operations in India and signed a contract with the Sports Council and CWG. This was a very entrepreneurial experience for me.

At SP Jain, the alumni had launched a start-up, ThoughtBuzz, with the Spring Grant in Singapore and were also looking to expand and tap into the Indian sub-continent. I joined them as Vice President, Strategic Alliances, and worked in the B2B segment. This experience working with brands and agencies inspired me to start DecideQuick, which was India’s first social decision support platform. We were awarded the top start-up in Microsoft’s BizSpark India Startup Challenge. 

I then moved to Dubai to launch an interactive experience design firm, IXFocus, with operations in Dubai and Singapore catering to the real estate and retail industry. We then pivoted to helping build software for mid to large enterprises. 

A common thread in this journey was Accubits, as I was a mentor and advisor to the core founding team at Accubits when they were building a product prior to its inception. I was also a client turned channel partner while at IXFocus. In 2016, when the wave of blockchain and cryptocurrencies hit, I decided to join the team full time as a Director and Global Chief Strategy Officer. 

Accubits specialises in blockchain and artificial intelligence and has notable clients such as NASA, USPS, Dubai Smart Government, JP Morgan Chase and many more. The diverse work Accubits is involved in ranges from work on a pandemic management platform with the Government of Cameroon to launching an enterprise blockchain satellite node to launching NFT marketplaces and metaverses.

Q. How do you envision the future with the latest technology trends in the next ten years?

The next ten years is a very long time for technology evolution. We are witnessing a rapid evolution in this space. The future is very bright with advances in medicine, transportation, agriculture, and even education. The pandemic has also played its part in being a catalyst.

Advances in technologies such as AI, ML, and the adoption of blockchain have been instrumental to some of the things we take for granted today and have been ingrained in our day-to-day lives.

Q. As a transformation leader and expert, what leadership style do you prefer and why?

I prefer to empower my teams so that they can lead an initiative to see it being fulfilled because it helps the company remain agile and also motivates people to pursue a purpose. However, at various stages of the growth and maturity of the company and its people, leadership styles need to change. As we grew from 10 to nearly 600 people today, we’ve learnt and understood what inspires or motivates people and this helps align common values and vision.

Q. Could you tell us more about your company and how it benefits the creative minds of today?

Our company started with an audacious goal of liberating people from doing mundane tasks so that they can work on creative tasks and problems that affect humanity. If we are able to work on problems such as financial inclusion, process automation, and climate fintech, to name a few, we could potentially liberate at least 7 billion people to help advance humanity. This is our guiding light and vision for the entire company and what drives our choices of projects and moon-shot initiatives that we have taken.

The company has identified itself as a specialist in 4IR technologies and helping transform governments and enterprises. Besides being an engineering services firm, Accubits has also built a portfolio of homegrown products cultivated by our culture of innovation. Some of these products as industry leaders are CoinFactory, Emotyx and Accucerts.

The company has also invested in moon-shot initiatives such as Accubits Invent, an R&D firm focused on AI & biological semiconductor research and MistEO, which is into climate fintech and parametric risk insurance.

Q. Accubits is involved with diverse work ranging from working on a pandemic management platform with the Government of Cameroon to launching an enterprise blockchain satellite node, launching NFT marketplaces and metaverses and more. Could you elaborate on the diversity of its work and progress over the years?

The work Accubits has executed over the years has been very diverse and aligned with some of the strategic initiatives or experiences we’ve tried to build, be it in fintech, supply chain or computer vision. The team builds on these experiences to deliver bespoke solutions to customers.

Some of the initiatives have also been market-driven such as the pandemic management platform. This started as a pro-bono initiative for the local state government, helping them with disinformation management and then transforming it into a full-fledged platform requirement for governments and enterprises to safeguard travellers and residents.

Q. Tech for humanity – what are your goals or thought processes in this regard?

While we talk about all the advancements in tech, we as a species remain a Type 0 civilisation on the Kardashev Scale. The next 100 years will determine whether we perish or thrive. As harsh as it may sound, the reality is we need to advance faster.

Applications of AI today are mostly narrow or applied AI and can work towards solving specific tasks. We anticipate that this will progress towards AGI and ASI in the next ten years to help humanity solve those problems affecting our existence. Our initiatives, such as research in biological semiconductors and climate fintech are just small steps in that direction.

Q. How has your journey at SP Jain been? What are some of the skills that helped you emerge as a successful leader today?

My journey through SP Jain was fun, enriching, and empowering. The skills that I gained through this journey have been invaluable in multiple stages of my career, such as negotiating and structuring deals with governments, managing teams and scaling them from 10 to 600, managing complex projects and devising new strategies for growth and competition. The exposure I received from my industry interaction projects, working in teams and analysing case studies is something I cherish to this day.

Q. What advice would you give our future GMBA students?

Follow your heart, keep an open mind and leverage opportunities.

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