Carbonite President & CEO Mohamad Ali’s escalator to tech management stardom began… at an escalator.

The Immigrant Who Saved Carbonite

Mohamad Ali knew just how to save Carbonite, applying a formula he perfected at IBM, Avaya, and HP.

This week’s episode of How Hard Can It Be features Carbonite President & CEO Mohamad Ali, whose personal story actually begins in a small village in rural Guyana. At a time when immigrants are under fire in this country, Mohamad is topping off a 3o-year career doing what he’s always done… creating shareholder value and high wage jobs with a unique blend of strategic vision, technical leadership, and human touch.

I first met Mohamad in his role supporting the innovation community here as the Chairman of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, the region’s largest and most powerful technology association. MassTLC’s mission is to accelerate growth and innovation in the Massachusetts technology industry, and it’s a mission closely aligned with his own.

Mohamad joined Carbonite from Hewlett-Packard, where he served as Chief Strategy Officer reporting directly to Meg Whitman. Before HP, he led Avaya’s $2 billion Global Services division as its President, and also held senior positions at IBM including Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for the Information Management Division. At IBM he orchestrated a set of strategic acquisitions — including that of software developer Cognos for $5 billion — to build IBM’s analytics and big data business, the bones of what is now Watson Health.

Carbonite’s glossy new HQ is long on Star Wars iconography, and on GSD attitude.

In addition to being a great human being Mohamad has a rather unique approach to enterprise value creation, eschewing the classical founder role for one more focused on identifying meaningful market opportunities and combining the assets or existing businesses required to meet them. As you’ll hear from him, the keys to success with this approach lay less in the nuances of strategy and more in the quality of execution on the ground, preparing for and dealing with all the ways even the best strategies can, and usually do, go horribly wrong in the real world.

I think you’ll enjoy our talk as much as I did… and if you do, please help us spread the word.

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