Meet Adeel Irshad, a transformative leader in the electrifying world of sustainable mobility. Adeel's journey to the Chief Operating Officer role is nothing short of remarkable.
Adeel shares his insights on leadership, navigating the fast-paced world of electric mobility, and the delicate balance between ideals and practicality. Discover his passion for education, empathy for others, and advice for those who aspire to COO roles as we delve into the mind of a changemaker in the electric vehicle revolution.
Without further ado, let’s hear from Adeel!
How did you get into your current role?
Life's like a rollercoaster of challenges, and apparently, it always feels like the first day at the buffet—so many options!
Formerly, I was the Group Projects Advisor at Sur International Investment Group (SIIG), which was basically the “Chief of Staff”. I was tasked with a challenge by the Group Chairman to transform our oil and gas business into a renewable and sustainable venture to diversify revenues.
In my quest for eco-friendly solutions in early 2019, COVID disrupted plans but provided a silver lining. It allowed me to foster connections, innovate, and conduct in-depth research with remote collaborators.
These brainstorms led to the creation of the EV Technology and EVSE brands under SIIG. Leadership bet on these for their potential as sustainable businesses and their suitability for the local and regional markets. I then became the Chief Operating Officer, steering towards a greener future.
What has been your biggest learning in your current role?
Being a COO has been an eye-opening journey filled with valuable lessons.
One major takeaway has been the importance of effective leadership for a startup — not simply making decisions, but strategically considering the bigger picture. For example, collaboration and partnerships with OEMs have proven crucial and creating an atmosphere of adaptability has become a cornerstone for success.
It's not merely about weathering storms; it's about bouncing back with resilience. Prioritizing tasks, strategic vision & development, multitasking like a one man army, and managing time effectively are skills I've honed. I’ve realized that delegation is a necessity, giving my incredible team room to shine.
Finally, continuous improvement is not a buzzword; it's a mindset that has become part of my DNA. Understanding risks and mitigating them has been a constant theme. Above all, building and leading an awesome startup is at the heart of what I do. It's a journey that continually reminds me of the need for learning, adaptation, and an unwavering commitment to making our operations as efficient, sustainable, and effective as possible.
What advice would you give to someone looking for a similar role?
If you're aiming to become a COO in the e-mobility industry, my advice would be to blend your passion for sustainable technology with strong business acumen.
Dive deep into understanding the dynamics of the EV Ecosystem, stay updated on the latest technological advancements, and build a network within the clean energy sector. Emphasize your ability to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving market.
Showcase your leadership skills by highlighting instances where you've successfully managed teams and implemented strategic initiatives. Demonstrate your commitment to environmental sustainability and showcase how you can contribute to the organization's mission of promoting cleaner and greener transportation.
Remember, it's not only about the numbers, but also about driving positive change and making a meaningful impact on the future of mobility towards a net-zero future.
What were some of the key learnings or breakthroughs you had while working in your current role?
It has been a remarkable journey.
One crucial lesson has been the necessity of agility in navigating the fast-paced and ever-evolving landscape of electric mobility. Flexibility and adaptability are paramount, given the continuous advancements in technology and market dynamics.
Another significant breakthrough has been understanding the interconnectedness of various facets, from supply chain complexities to regulatory compliance. Collaborating with diverse teams and fostering a culture of innovation emerged as a key strategy, recognizing that sustainable success is a collective effort.
Learning to balance the ambitious goals of sustainability with the pragmatic realities of business operations has been a continuous challenge, teaching the importance of finding the delicate equilibrium between ideals and practicality in driving the electric vehicle revolution.
What are you most focused on right now?
- Professional growth: To continue visionary leadership for an electrified future
- I harbor a profound enthusiasm for continued education, learning, and raising awareness about sustainable societal norms. I firmly believe that, collectively, we all possess the power to instigate transformative change in the face of climate challenges. My focus is directed towards engaging with innovative projects, modernizing it to align with sustainable supply to evolve with demands and user needs, specifically integrating advancements in battery development, commercial EVs, AI, IoT, and AVs.
- Finally, I want to get better at playing golf.
What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of your experience?
My resilience was tested while navigating the complex negotiations, weaving through the ever-shifting clauses between us and our OEMs, which were meant to meld the policies and compliances of two distinct business groups.
This challenge was further compounded by the dynamic landscape of technological breakthroughs, regulatory shifts, and compliance considerations, along with the complexities inherent in managing the supply chain. Additionally, the task of finding the right OEM for the right market for the right place, ensuring favorable outcomes for both OEMs and our business, added an extra layer of complexity.
However, the most gratifying triumphs were in successfully steering the company through the complexities of brands, technological advancements, regulatory compliance, and supply chain management, while concurrently fostering innovation and contributing to the overall progress towards sustainable electric mobility.
What is the oddest task / project you've ever worked on?
I got the entertaining task of putting together a fireshow for an event management company. Apparently, adding a touch of flames to the event planning mix might be the latest and greatest strategy in business.
If you could wave a magic wand, with 3 wishes for your role, what would they be?
My three wishes for the role would likely be:
- To become a visionary leader in EV Ecosystem
- To get the right innovative product to market with the right prices, based on user needs.
- effortlessly achieving breakthroughs in sustainable technology by already living in world of widespread electric vehicle adoption i.e. Net zero future
What’s something that people wouldn’t expect about you?
I'm an introvert with a deep empathy for others and a passion for education and awareness for a sustainable society, though I tend to keep it low-key, sometimes leading to being underestimated. If we're not well-acquainted, you might perceive me as unfriendly due to my serious looks and infrequent smiles, mainly because of my introverted nature. However, if we become friends, you'll discover my playful side, and I can be as entertaining as a clown, especially when discussing movies, something I excel at and genuinely love, especially as a devoted fan of Netflix.
What’s the best professional advice that you’ve ever been given?
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. A history teacher taught me this Chinese proverb, which has guided me throughout my professional journey.
Yet, my personal favorite is “Make it Possible,” a mantra that has been the driving force behind all my successes and has adorned my phone wallpaper ever since.
Is there anything else you want to share?
I envision a future where clean and efficient mobility is not just a choice but a collective commitment. It's about embracing innovation and adopting electric vehicles as a powerful step towards a greener, more sustainable net zero future world. Together, we can drive a positive change, shaping a future where our roads are not just pathways but symbols of progress towards a cleaner, healthier planet since there is no Planet B.