Mohammad Ovais is a serial entrepreneur with a focus on software innovation and services.
He was the Managing Partner/Co-founder of Streebo, before he became the CEO and founder of qordata. With a Bachelors in Computer Science from Rice University and EMP from MIT, he serves on the board of Entrepreneur Organization as Strategic Alliances Chair.
Q: What would you like to see your team accomplish in 2019?
My team is at the center of what we do at qordata. They’re my first priority. And I do see my primary responsibility as helping them reach their full potential.
The thing about 2019 is that it’s started on a wonderful note! We’ve received phenomenal customer feedback, with several opting in for early renewals and others communicating that they want more of qordata’s products. So naturally, the first thing I’d like to accomplish with my team is to ensure we meet our new goals. We’re also extremely excited about new pharmaceutical compliance products we’re launching soon, allowing customers to get the full benefit of our analytics and reporting capabilities.
It follows that great performance and growth only happen when teams see their contribution as meaningful and fulfilling, and when people have the freedom to be themselves. That’s why I’ve introduced quarterly themes at qordata that allow for vibrant self-expression, lots of sharing of new ideas and creativity. For Q1 2019, the theme was “Positive Vibes Only.” The creativity and motivation of Team qordata did not disappoint!
Q: Who is your role model or hero?
Foremost is the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Imran Khan, Pakistan’s current Prime Minister, and a former cricket superstar turned philanthropist would be the next.
Q: What is your favorite book?
Hard choice, but it’d have to be “Leading On The Edge.” It’s the real-life account of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition—the incredible story of how Shackleton and his team endured almost 700 days at sea, surviving an Antarctic winter not once but twice. I think every CEO should read it for the lessons it offers in perseverance and personal courage. It’s about ‘beyond the boardroom’ team spirit. My favorite lesson: “Never give up – there’s always another move”. You can read more about my favorite books here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-you-reading-2018-mohammad-ovais/
Q: Do you use any specific method or system to run daily operations?
As the CEO I make sure that I’m present for as many daily team huddles as possible. There’s also a fortnightly CEO Town Hall, in which I share my work, leadership decisions and other updates with the entire organization and respond to any questions they may have. We also have “Coffee With The CEO,” where between coffee and snacks, lots of cross-functional team members come together and we enjoy an informal chat.
From an operational standpoint, each team at qordata has its own favorite project management software, including Jira, Asana, Trello and others.
Q: Why did you choose your present industry at this time?
While at Streebo, my organization offered a number of technology services to several industry verticals. My decision to focus on pharmaceutical compliance came from a disturbing personal experience. My eldest daughter has ADHD. My wife and I went through several treatments for her, one of which was a prescription by her paediatrician. The effects of that drug were so frightening, and so severe, that my daughter essentially became a zombie. My wife and I were desperate for an alternative. We were referred to another drug that has been successfully managing ADHD for two decades. It has better efficacy, fewer side effects and resolved many of the adverse effects of the earlier drug.
I would not wish any dad to go through that. I asked myself, “Why would a physician experiment with a new drug on my daughter? I could not fathom another father second-guessing his physician’s advice. I wanted the patient-physician relationship to be built on 100% trust.”
It was also around that time the Sunshine Payments Act was introduced under ObamaCare. That’s how qordata’s flagship product, Open Payments Analytics, now known as Compliance Insights, came into being. The movement has picked up momentum. In just two years, qordata has become well-known in the global pharmaceutical industry as a solution provider for pharmaceutical analytics. Making it more transparent adds meaning to our work every day.
Q: What is the best/worst moment you can remember in your career?
Interestingly, the best and worst moments go side by side. Like any other tech startup, qordata had its share of financial turbulence in the beginning. That period of uncertainty is definitely a dark cloud over what has been an exciting journey so far.
What kept qordata going back then is the faith and commitment of its team. I’m very proud to acknowledge the sacrifices my team made, foregoing opportunities elsewhere, and buckling up for a bumpy ride. The efforts and their faith—most of all- got us through. One of the highpoints at each qordata Annual Dinner is to acknowledge the team members who’ve been here since Day I.
There have been lots of “best” moments since then. Clients publicly praising qordata at global conferences; referring us to other industry leaders. Even being acknowledged by regulators (that happened in 2017, if I remember correctly), I count all of them in my proudest milestones.
Q: Looking back - if you could advise a younger version of yourself to do something different - what would it be?
I’d tell myself to invest more in relationships; to cultivate them. I’d also tell myself to be more positive—I’m generally one to recognize the bright side of things now. Looking back, I think I should have adapted my “attitude of gratitude” sooner.