In the ‘Hot Seat’ with Sven Al Hamad

You’ve read all about why we invested and how much we believe in the team, now let’s find out what makes this awesome CEO tick.

  • What’s your name and where do you come from?

Sven Al Hamad, Webiny

  • Give us a quick overview of your company and what it does.

We are building an open-source serverless CMS. Using Webiny developers can create reliable serverless applications, websites and APIs, with ease. For the business that means faster iteration cycles, lower CAPEX and (almost) unlimited scale.

  • What’s the next big idea that nobody is thinking about yet? Why is this so important?

Universal society – a society not divided by borders, culture and politics. It’s important as in the next few centuries we will hopefully become a multi-planet species and the cost and investments required to further expansion will be much greater than a single country, or smaller groups of countries can sustain.

  • Looking back to the day you founded the company, what is the one thing you wish you had known before starting off?

The importance of communicating your idea clearly. If you communicate clearly, you get straight answers back. Like, yes this is a good idea, or no, this idea is bad. If you don’t, then you won’t get the right answers back. This is important as you will base your next steps on them.

Another one that I would point out is the importance of timing. Everyone knows that the timing of your ideas is important. I would stretch this bit further and say that timing is THE most important thing someone starting a company should consider.

  • How do you define success for you / your company?

For me personally is running a successful business while enjoying what I do each and every day. For my company, it’s looking forward to the time when serverless is how the majority of applications are being built and Webiny is the foundation behind every serverless application.

  • What behaviour or personality trait do you most attribute to your ability to achieve what you have achieved so far?

Perseverance.

  • What’s your top idea to improve diversity in the workplace?

Diversity is a hard question. The whole IT industry is struggling in tackling that challenge. Diversity needs to be tackled not only on gender but also on any other level like religious and ethnical. Talking about gender diversity, having a mantra of hiring the best for the job often goes against diversity, as at the moment it’s a simple numbers game, there is a 1:5 ratio on job applications in favour of men. It’s not one we can solve at the end line, meaning a company hiring someone, diversity needs to be solved in earlier stages at several different layers in our society which in next few decades will hopefully even out the odds between genders and races on the market, giving companies a greater pool of diverse talent which in the end will reflect that diversity within the company. In the short term I believe the company should still hire the best talent they think is right regardless of gender or race, but what companies must do is make everyone feel welcome and equal in their workplace.

When it comes to gender diversity, the key to attract and retain more women in any industry is to provide them the right working conditions that will enable them to pursue their careers and still be or become mothers. Women should not be penalised for having both, but unfortunately this can happen.

When you see how many women decide to become self-employed once they have children simply because companies do not offer them flexible or remote working, and with childcare costs being extremely high, that puts things into perspective. It would be unrealistic to expect the burden of this to be solely on companies. The government has to take part in this as well through the legislature and partly compensate childcare for young families. It is not a simple solution that can happen overnight, but it is very much needed. I became a father last year, so I am very much familiar with how much your life changes once you add a child into the equation, and the costs of childcare are a big part of that.

  • What is the best advice you have ever been given and by whom?

I’m a big fan of Dale Carnegie and his books. How to make friends and influence people is a must-read for anyone. The book covers a simple, yet complex topic of communication. There is one quote I’m always returning to from the book: “Ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.” It works great in both personal and business relationships. It makes you mentally accept the worst situation, but in the case it actually happens, you are prepared and you can react in the best possible way, instead of being frozen or acting rashly.

  • What was the most useful resource (networks/books/websites/blogs) you used when starting out?

I highly recommend The Tim Ferriss Show. It’s a gold mine of brilliant advice and experiences from entrepreneurs to actors, scientists, athletes and many other branches. I would also recommend Masters of scale by Reid Hoffman. As you can see, I’m a big fan of podcasts. They are great as you can listen to them on your commute, run or just when you are walking your baby in the park. I can also recommend several books like Zero to One by Peter Thiel, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and also Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.

  • What is the single most important thing you’ve done to increase the value of your business?

Formed a great team and raised an investment!

  • What has been the hardest decision you’ve had to make in your entrepreneurial journey?

keep going.

  • What will be the biggest change to how we lead our lives in 15 years? And what won’t have changed?

I think we will be more aware of the impact we have as individuals to our society and the impact we as a society have on our planet.

  • Tell us something we don’t know about you?

I love watching cooking shows on YouTube. Channels like Binging with Babish, Tasty or even Gordon Ramsey are one of my favourites.

  • If you could be offline for 3 days- where would you go and what would you do?

I’m a big fan of snowboarding and diving. So either somewhere high up on a snowy mountain or somewhere in deep waters.

Leah
Leah Martin
Marketing, Communications & Events Manager
Events and Marketing > keeping the general status quo, blogs and communications from East London. Cooking and entertaining for my family and friends, discovering the tastiest and best restaurants. Listening to my playlists while travelling the world seeking new adventures.

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