Sohaib Abbasi–A Role Model to Emulate
Sohaib Abbasi is one of those rare breed of men whose career success is paralleled by their philanthropic activities. A successful professional in Silicon Valley, he hasn’t forgotten his roots either.
Since 2004 he is the President and CEO of Informatica, a data integration company. Prior to Informatica, Mr. Abbasi spent 20 years at Oracle Corporation where he was most recently a member of the Oracle’s executive committee and was senior vice president of two major divisions, Oracle Tools and Oracle Education. Mr. Abbasi joined Oracle Corporation in 1982 when it was a 30-person startup and was instrumental in growing the business from $4 million in annual revenues to over $9 billion in revenues and over 42,000 employees worldwide. As part of his contribution, Mr. Abbasi envisioned and launched the Oracle Tools business, which he grew from zero to $3.75 billion in cumulative license revenues. Mr. Abbasi graduated with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1980, where he earned both a B.S. and an M.S. in computer science.
In order to bridge the chasm that had developed between Islam and the West after the Sept.11 attacks the Pakistan born Mr.Abbasi and his wife, Sara, donated $2.5 million to establish the Islamic Studies program at Stanford University.
The Abbasis also support several educational institutions in Pakistan. Mrs.Abbasi is on the executive board of Developments in Literacy,DIL - Developments In Literacy
, an international non-profit organization that has built 200 schools in Pakistan since 1997.
Most recently Mrs. Abbasi also contributed towards the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
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The Big Deal: Informatica's Sohaib Abbasi
Andy Greenberg, 09.16.09, 7:40 PM ETThe easy deals can be made by anyone. The big, meaningful ones draw on the experience of a lifetime--as well as on lots of moxie and luck. Forbes is asking leaders in business and other fields about the pivotal "Big Deals" they have made in their business lives. We will share those stories here. What are your memorable deals? We welcome your thoughts and stories in the Reader Comments section below.
Before becoming the chief executive of Informatica in 2004, Sohaib Abbasi spent 20 years at Oracle. Since joining Informatica, Abbasi has doubled the company's revenue, which is now above $430 million.
I joined Informatica as the CEO in July of 2004. In 10 of the prior 12 quarters, Informatica had reported negative product license growth. Clearly, something had to change.
Up until that point, Informatica had decided that, in order to grow the revenue, we had to go into another category, specifically, analytic applications.
When I joined Informatica, it was clear to me that we could not afford to be in multiple, distinctly different categories, because it's very expensive and it is a very challenging situation. It was too big of a stretch for one organization to sell infrastructure software to IT organizations and also sell turnkey applications to business users.
So my big decision was to exit analytic applications and focus on our core market. And it was a very controversial decision.
The reason why Informatica had gone into analytic applications in the first place was an assumption that the core market, data warehousing, was mature and it was becoming increasingly competitive. To come in and say that we need to refocus the company on that core market was a particularly challenging decision, because many were convinced there was no chance of growth.
In fact, there was a financial analyst that had written a report with a very catchy title, headlined, "Dark Days Ahead For ETL." (ETL stood for extract, transform, load, which was a synonym for data warehousing.) In other words, everyone had written off data warehousing. There was resistance among employees and on the board about whether we'd made the right choice.
But it was the only choice. We knew that Informatica pioneered that market. It was ours.
The challenge was, how do you grow the core market when, as a leader there, our revenue had been shrinking?
So we decided to evangelize the use of our technology more broadly. In other words, we would allow our customers to use our technology in more ways than ever before.
The research firm IDC had done a survey. They'd found that IT organizations spend five times more on operational data integration compared to the traditional data warehousing.
Our customers at the time in financial services, the public sector and high-tech manufacturing were using Informatica primarily to integrate historical data in order for them to make better decisions. We began talking about using Informatica's technology beyond analytics, for operational data integration like Banco Santa's acquisition of Banco Real in Brazil and their goal of improving profits by 60% in two years, or Johnson & Johnson's goal of cutting operating expenses by $1 billion.
In other words, by refocusing the company and challenging ourselves to grow our core market, we were able to expand our addressable market fivefold. That idea set into motion a process with which we have effectively increased our addressable market by one new technology category every year for five years.
That big decision, to re-focus on our core market, also ended up redefining our market and has helped us to expand it every year since.