Share a brief profile of your business and how you came into your current role.
It is a privilege for me to be Chief Executive Officer of Intelligent Security Systems (ISS). ISS is a pioneer and global leader in intelligent video solutions – algorithmic software that interprets and makes actionable images captured by video cameras.
Every day I work with over 300 talented and dedicated team members, all of us striving to produce the best results for our integrator partners and some of the most sophisticated public and private end users in the world. ISS has been doing this now for 25 years – it’s our anniversary in 2022. It is a market where experience does matter and where maturity leads to accelerated growth – which is exactly what’s happening now worldwide at ISS.
I started as a computer engineer, which I think has given me a bit of an edge in leadership in this technology field. But I do think of myself at the chief salesman for the company and I have been in the trenches with my team as we’ve hired and executed expansion plans in North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East.
Originally from Brazil, I earned an MBA from Rutgers University and my B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
As a next-generation CEO or team lead, what are the lessons you wish to carry forward from your mentors?
I have been fortunate to work with great mentors through both my professional and personal life. People who went out of their way to help me become a better version of myself. They challenged me, pushed my buttons, listened to my crazy ideas, gave me opportunities, and so much more.
Some of the lessons I’ve learned and draw on almost daily:
● There is no better time than the present: Do not procrastinate. Successful people do not wait for tomorrow, they act quickly and do not miss a beat.
● Be bold and trust your instincts: Your strong intuition, honed through years of experience, helps to guide the everyday decisions a CEO takes.
● Surround yourself with good people. Surrounding yourself with the right people is life changing. Good people, better than you, will make you think faster, work harder and learn more. Always look at your bench and strive to have the best team in the league you play – always remembering that you need complementary but different skills sets to win the game.
● Relationship, Relationships and more Relationships: Business is done between people, no matter what part of the world you are in. Cultivate relationships with customers, partners, suppliers and consultants. They are the eyes and ears of the industry.
● Global Company, Local Business: Have a local presence where you do business. Hire locally, speak the language, research the local culture and traditions. Appreciate how locals live.
What are the challenges you perceive in your field of business and how are you planning to meet them?
Our industry and market are shifting, and I love it! Customers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding solutions that truly deliver an increase of operational efficiency and, at the same time, reduces costs. Hardware is increasingly being viewed as a commodity, the focus on surveillance has now become fixed on advanced video analytics; and the ability of analytics to lead to action and the collection of data points that lead to intelligence.ISS simply excels in these arenas.
Further, the magic word in surveillance begins with the letter “i”. That word is “integration”. With best-of-breed technologies being called for from end users (not “just good enough” technologies), reducing risk in implementation is paramount. In that area, ISS is the integrators’ friend - bar none - both in our technology infrastructure and in our famous and relentless customer service.
Another point is the wave of new AI entrants in the market. Companies that are heavily financed by VC firms but have no experience nor track records of successful deployments. Most of them are building products on top of widely available free software without the knowledge to make it efficient and address specific customer needs.
Our portfolio of products and solutions are all customer-use focused and forged in the fires of implementations and references from all around the world. One the beauties of ISS is to take experiences from major enterprise installations and translate them - very much into local language (literally), customs and demands. From security to operational efficiency to compliance, we will work with the camera as the key (not by any means the only) sensor to meet integrator and end-user needs.
State three things that you could offer to help incentivise your team in their quest for excellence.
Be present, show support and always energise your team: Being a true leader is not only giving directions and building successful strategies, it’s also about getting down and dirty alongside your team. Share your passion and vision with your peers. Be the role model they will mirror and always take an extra step to train your staff.
Recognise and reward success: True leaders genuinely care about others. A token of recognition for a job well done goes a long way. Happy employees will have a superior engagement with the company and individual goals.
There is never enough knowledge one can get: Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Education and training incentive programmes are an exceptional way to motivate members of your business.
In your view as a new-age CEO, how primed is the UAE as a hub for business and entrepreneurship?
When we decided to start operations in the Middle East, the UAE arose as a natural location to start.
The UAE had all the mechanisms and infrastructure needed to quickly setup a subsidiary of ISS Corp. Having the license, allowed us to lease a location and start seeking talents to staff the operations. The UAE economy is open to foreign business and investment, and a wide array of support is offered by the government for the companies who are looking to setup a business.
UAE Infrastructure is another point that tips the scale. The strategic location and aviation hub that Dubai became allowed us to quickly access any location in the GCC, and abroad quickly and efficiently.
Additionally, the UAE is a safe place to live and do business in. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are considered to be among the safest places in the world. Security, along with political stability, are major factors helping to attract an influx of business to the UAE.
How do you see your organisation contributing towards the growth of the UAE under your leadership?
The UAE is committed to best-of-breed and efficient technologies – specifically those that contribute to the well-being and safety of the Emirates. It took us two full years to become licensed as the only US company in the UAE to offer license plate recognition software solutions, considering the authorities here had set the standard bar high (many would argue higher than the US). We flourish where standards and regulation allow the wheat to be separated from the chaff. And the virtuous circle allows for the UAE to attract the best solutions and people often in the world.
Our strategy remains firm in continuing and expanding our local R&D capabilities. We are relentless in attracting talent, not only hiring professionals available locally but also importing the most brilliant engineers and developers into the region. This approach is not only beneficial to ISS, as it allows to discuss the requirements locally and implements without points “lost in translation”, but also has ramifications goes a way beyond our industry. The end result is the economy benefits as a hole.
What is the growth trajectory you have charted for your organisation over the next five years?
As I noted earlier, age really does have its benefits in our industry. Where you have the implementation experience and the references, each year of maturity allows you to accelerate your growth rate. We are not a small company any more, but growing by 20 to 30 per cent annually has become our norm.
More specifically to the Middle East, ISS has been present for close to a decade, starting in the UAE, where customers now include leading public and private sector entities in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Fujairah (where the police security network is powered by ISS video management systems and analytics). Subsequently, ISS expanded to Doha (where we manage the needs for some marvellous clients). About a year ago, ISS has targeted Saudi Arabia as a strategic market and we’ve been incredibly well received and welcomed.
I believe we have now reached the size and momentum where acquisitions are the next step to gain geographic and client footprint advantage.
Wherever we are, and whatever we do, ISS will remain committed to continue investing in local R&D and software development to deliver the most sophisticated solutions to the public and private sectors in the Middle East. Remaining a “local company” with a global reach and client-centric resources is emerging as differentiator in markets that its hunger for innovation and excellence.