The technological backbone of EXPO 2020- Iman Al Omrani

Iman Al Omrani

The wave that took everyone by sheer force known as technology. It changed the way we perceive, interact, communicate and so much more. With the coming of the end of EXPO 2020 that took the world and most importantly Dubai by such innovation and potential of a greater future, we wanted to explore deeper into the foundation that handled every minor detail. The major magnetism of EXPO 2020 was the technology that was incorporated into every aspect of everyday life, and this was made into reality and handled with such precision and accuracy with the integrity and passion of Iman Al Omrani. A figurehead who was in charge of every technological aspect embedded within EXPO 2020, she didn’t have to be present in the limelight to make changes happen, she carried every operation and made sure everything was at its most potential all from behind the scenes. Such is the achievement and success of Iman Al Omrani with diligence and determination, her passion drives her over hurdles, residing outside the limelight demonstrating her exceptional taste, and curating memorable moments worthy of a lifetime of reminiscence through dedication and zeal.

  • Tell us a little bit of what has drawn your passion towards the field you are currently part of?


I believe in adding value to anything or anyone around me. This is the true essence of passion. While my professional career has driven me to work within the technology field, my passion is not limited to technology. In fact, I fell into technology when I was accepted at UAE university. At the time, the internet was at its infancy and very few predicted or knew that technology would be the next big thing that would impact our lives. I have played my part as a technologist for just over twenty years. I have led and mentored individuals and teams to deliver technology solutions. My passion lies within the outcome of what each individual delivers and the smile he or she wears after accomplishing their goal.


  • What’s the biggest inspiration in your life, not only in aspects of your career?


Inspiration is an important word. It also comes in all shapes and forms. I get inspired by people. Many would quote famous inspirational quotes, yet I truly believe that we live through so many moments and conversations that impact us to change or do things differently. And that is inspiring. I learn from my mentors and teachers, yet I also learn from the most junior person in the team. Everyone’s experience is different and we can all learn and inspire from what we have seen, witnessed, or done. It’s a matter of putting things in perspective, adding a lens to see differently and learning from it. If I had to name my biggest inspiration, I’d say my biggest inspiration is my mother because I have witnessed, and learned wonders from her, and I continue to do so today. 


  • Can you tell us about a time when things didn’t go as you had planned, such as a project that failed? And what did you learn from it?


Things can always go wrong and they will. I would not have said this statement if I was still on my first job placement. Through mid-career, I learned the hard way that things will not always go your way. Unlike a math statement, when you can guarantee one correct solution every single time, delivering any technology solution comes with different variables, some within your direct control and some not. I have also learned about perspective. Where my perspective of a business requirement means one thing, the perspective of the business owner may mean a complete thing. Hence, building strong healthy relationships with stakeholders and providing them with as much clarity throughout the duration of delivery can only get both perspectives closer yielding to better results. 


  • How do you keep up with the constant change in technology and keep your skills current?


Technology is faster than you think. With this, one can only sharpen the saw by continuously learning about new technologies or, more importantly, always asking what is possible with technology available today that can better humanity. Sometimes the best solutions are not new inventions, rather using the tools around us smartly to create something that makes sense. 


  • What is your management style that you stand by vigorously?


There are many leadership styles and depending on the people and situations, these styles would change. Situational leadership is a constant yet is delivered differently every single time. In times of crisis, no one would question the orders of a General. Whereas, I would invest more time mentoring and coaching team members who require the dialogue to better understand how best to pursue their goals without telling them how to do it. Sometimes, it is as simple as being a role model by practicing what we preach. 


  • Do you believe as a woman you faced uncertainty from those around you and had to prove yourself to get where you are?


I measure myself by the value I bring to the table. Whether it was in a room full of men or a mix. Where there is an alpha male, there is always an alpha female. I have never underestimated a person’s output based on gender and will not do so. We are all different and with different competencies. We work with what we have and continue to strive to be better and do better.   


  • What are the decisions that you are expected to make on a normal day?


We take many decisions in our daily lives without paying attention. We decide what time to wake up. We decide whether we have breakfast or not. We decide what meals we will cook or order? These are basic necessity decisions that also impact our lives implicitly and explicitly. The number of hours we sleep per day and the number of hours we work. There are also many decisions that need to be made as part of our jobs and roles we play. It can be as simple as deciding if someone can proceed on going on leave or as big as deciding a change in implementation approach of a strategic project.  


  • What experiences have led you to your current success and position?


Hard work, perseverance, resilience, and never settling for less. These are principles that have driven me and continue to drive me to do, manage, and lead. You can only be the driver of your success. There is no specific experience that can lead to success. It is the continuous drive to do better every time a challenge presents itself. 


  • How would you say your department makes use of technology against the norm?  


It’s how you apply the technology that counts. At times, many are alluded to implement technology for the sake of technology and this is where many get it wrong. It’s what you can do with technology and how you apply it. What’s the purpose of it? Is it to facilitate, automate, or provide you with information that allows you to better navigate your way, or allow you to make sound and important decisions and plans for your business?  We challenge our stakeholders to drive better business requirements so that we can provide them with the solutions that they need, while ensuring we use robust technologies that can support business in the long term.


  • If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?


If I knew yesterday what I know today, I would definitely do things differently. However, we all have our journeys and every step has been a learning and made me what I am today. Every mistake has taught me what to avoid and how to do things better. I am grateful to have had all the experiences that I have been through as they are the makings of me today. I will still make mistakes, yet I will still learn to do better, and that is life. 


  •  What was the hardest decision you ever had to make?


I have had to make many hard decisions. The most difficult are those around people, because they are fragile, and such decisions cannot be made without the emotions attached.


  • In the tech industry, if it was possible, what would you like to be seen as innovative and created in your own vision?


I would use technology to better humanity.


  • What is the best advice you can give?


Know yourself first and know yourself well. It is only when you truly know yourself that you know what you have to do to move forward, to change, to be better, and to achieve. Remember to always be humble because we are all human.

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