Few would relinquish a comfortable management role in favour of doing the hard yards, but for Gen-i’s service line manager for infrastructure, Safi Obeidullah, it was the logical choice. Obeidullah is currently in his second tenure at the New Zealand-based systems integrator, returning after a four-year stint at Insurance Australia Group (IAG).
“I had moved to a management position [as enterprise server manager] at IAG and while I was enjoying it, one of the things I am passionate about is technology,” he said. “While that role was quite a step up and I learnt a lot of things, I really felt out of touch with the technology.
“I wanted an opportunity to get back and do a lot more hands-on work with customers.” And he wasted no time in doing so. Obeidullah’s efforts in developing a solution for stay-at-home workers earned him this year’s ARN Personal Innovation award for Technical Excellence.
“I designed a virtual desktop solution for an insurance company for a work-at-home program, which was something different and used a lot of different technologies,” he said. “It also provided more of a business outcome rather than just a technical one.”
Using a blend of Citrix and other Microsoft tools, Obeidullah led a team of 10 to devise and implement the program. It took three months of close interaction with the client’s diverse IT departments and Gen-i has stayed on to manage the helpdesk.
The solution solved the insurance company’s recruiting woes and kept the knowledge pool that would have been lost when employees could not perform onsite during working hours.
“On a personal level, we found the solution actually increased the individual’s business engagement substantially and they had a much better work/life balance,” Obeidullah said. “They were able to be part of the work they were doing with the peace of mind they were able to address their family commitments as well.”
Obeidullah saw his profession as more than just providing IT equipment. The plight of end users is also an area that should be considered, he said.
“Even though we are in IT, our focus should be on outcomes because that is what really makes a difference,” he said.
Going on his 13th year in the IT industry, Obeidullah’s career could have taken a completely different route. With an affinity for mathematics, he began his tertiary education in accounting and finance in the mid 1990s.
“While the maths in accounting was great, I didn’t really enjoy the theory side of things so that is why I moved to IT,” he said. “The thing I enjoy most about IT is that it is always changing and there is always so much innovation going on in that space.
“Particularly in the last few years, the pace of advancement and innovation is amazing and you have the opportunity to work and take those technologies and solutions across all industries to really provide a business outcome to any company.”
Obeidullah got his start doing work experience at Management Technology Education (MTE), an IT training company. Three months later, he was offered his first full-time position and gained knowledge on a number of products. Obeidullah then moved onto a small systems integrator and developed a deep appreciation for Citrix solutions before his gig at Gen-i as a consultant for two years.