As part of our constant endeavour to identify and share some of the unique and compelling stories from the ecosystem, we invited yet another purpose-driven entrepreneur and agile leader Abrar Hashmi – Founder and Chief Evangelist of Agile Brains Consulting, for an interview with us to understand more about his exciting entrepreneurial journey so far.
He is a passionate entrepreneur, coach, trainer, keynote speaker and growth strategist. With his rich experience in this space, he is adding massive value to the lives of his clients. Let’s read more about his interesting journey, way forward and his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs through our exclusive conversation!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Abrar:
Please talk us through your background, your journey as an entrepreneur/coach and where did the idea to start something like this come from?
I was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and finished my GCE-A Levels in the same city. I went to Cyprus for a couple of years before finishing my Engineering Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Drexel University in United States of America.
After graduation, I worked as a software developer for a small startup which made electronic table games for poker. Going to work in ripped jeans and a t-shirt writing code for on-line poker while playing games (for testing) at casinos seemed to the best gig for a 21-year old. One of my earliest management roles was a Technology Services Manager for an organization providing E-learning solutions to financial institutions all over the world.”
Being in a customer-centric played a critical development role in my journey. I continued to work through large enterprises and served on a variety of roles from Development Director, Process Coach to Agile Program Manager to Enterprise Portfolio Lead.
Having a great successful career in the Corporate United States had its charm but something seemed missing. Having seen so much success in training and coaching thousands of employees and consultants in a Fortune 50 organization, I really felt we can create a platform to help companies and knowledge workers across the globe and help them reach their potential.
This is how Agile Brains was formed:
- An organization which would focus on helping organizations deliver products and services faster.
- An organization which would focus on value-based delivery over transactional selling.
- An organization which would help create a culture of innovation and inclusion within our clients.
- An organization built on principles of value, trust and engagement
Today 3 years later, Agile Brains Consulting (ABC) is a multi-million-dollar organization with over hundred plus trainers and coaches worldwide and we have assisted clients in over 30 countries with their digital transformation and training needs.
We are aware of all the good work you are doing in your space; what keeps you going?
Passion – working for the betterment of people and companies around us does not seem like work to me.
Malcom Forbes once said, “I think the foremost quality – there’s no success without it – is really loving what you do.
If you love it, you do it well, and there’s no success if you don’t do well what you’re working at.” I really believe in our mission of creating a better workplace for employees within organizations! Creating an environment where talent is heard, respected and given the environment to succeed. We are on a mission and we are far away from being done.
Why entrepreneurship over a corporate career?
I was reading Steve Job’s biography and remember him stating, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Having had a very successful corporate career and significant sphere of influence, I was able to hear about the challenges which employees faced; from being scared of challenging the status-quo, from being nervous of conflict and most importantly, the constant feeling of being stuck.”
Creating Agile Brains became the platform for me to train these employees in Agile and Design-Thinking mindset, helping them embrace change and help them overcome these fears! My entrepreneurship journey is all about having people reach their potential and become the best version of themselves.
How is your product different from traditional products? Tell us more about your product and your startup’s journey this far?
Our proprietary framework “ABC” starts with an “Assessment” ranging from few hours to few weeks which allows us to understand your current state. This is followed by “Brainstorm” where we partner with the client to identify innovative solutions to overcome their challenges. Our last phase is “Coach” where we coach our customers on the improvements to help them “Deliver” value faster.
Agile Brains Consulting has three key delivery areas: Training, Coaching and Consulting. Our training courses are tailored to your needs based on our assessment. Our coaching engagements are customized to mentor your internal teams so learnings can be strengthened. Amidst this pandemic, we have launched “Micro-consulting” engagements where our team of expert process-coaches work with clients to solve a particular problem.
Please share with us some of the challenges you faced in your journey
Starting any entrepreneurship journey will be challenging! I recall the initial days of ABC where I was responsible for setting up client calls, managing finances, creating proposals, conducting training, delivering solutions and asking for feedback; and probably another 15 more things on a daily basis. We were blessed to build a very strong team early on which was able to take ownership of these responsibilities. It allowed us to grow exponentially and I’m very proud of every single consultant, sales representative, a talent-management professional who has assisted us in our journey.
The greatest asset of Agile Brains remains its A-class team.
What is your Business Mantra: Money or Emotions?
Growing up in Abu Dhabi, as a young kid, one of the earliest lessons from my loving mother was “Always do the right thing and everything else will fall into place.” At Agile Brains, we have focused on doing the right thing and thanks to the Almighty, financial and professional success has followed. Someday, I look forward to teaching the same lesson to my kids as well.
How do you handle the pressure and manage stress?
Fantastic question – I think the first step is to identify that pressure and stress are part of any journey; corporate or entrepreneur. Embracing this pressure and stress will make you a well-rounded person. On a personal level, I love physical activity mostly working out, running and swimming which allow me to get away from a virtual screen and maintain focus. My fiancé is a huge fan of meditation and one day I do plan to try meditation ☺
What has worked well for you so far?
Listening to clients is critical. Too often, companies focus on selling and their capabilities forgetting the client in the process; from Day 1 at Agile Brains, customer satisfaction was our focus. We wanted to distinguish ourselves from the competition by being partners rather than vendors to solve their business challenges.
In your opinion what are the keys to success?
Success means different things to different people. For me, success means being in a place to help people reach their potential and Agile Brains is the vehicle which we are using to make people’s lives better and in-turn make the world a better place to live in.
We would love to know your advice for all those starting out as an aspiring entrepreneur?
Follow your heart! Life is too short to regret – if you have an idea, test it out. This is exactly what we teach our clients as well: create an environment where employees are encouraged to take risks! When people take the risk, magic happens ☺
Given the rapid pace at which the world is changing, what are the leadership traits that are necessary for success?
Embracing uncertainty is critical; we have trained leaders from small startups from Fortune 500 organizations using our training courses and having a growth mindset is critical to surviving in this Volatile-Uncertain-Complex-Ambiguous (VUCA) world.
Any final thoughts?
Agile Brains has a long way to go – it’s not about the destination but the journey along the way and our goal is to improve the lives of people around us in this journey.
Feel free to reach out to me [email protected] if you have questions.
Follow Agile Brains Consulting At:
Website – https://www.agilebrainsconsulting.net/
Follow Abrar At:
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/abrarhashmi/
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