The Next Moves: Interview with Mumin Al-Shawaf, the COO at Carbon6 Technologies

Joe Diubaldo, host of The Next Moves podcast, introduces Mumin Al-Shawaf, a highly accomplished tech executive with a diverse background spanning software engineering, customer success, sales, and operations. Mumin’s journey is notable for his ability to lead various functions within organizations, taking companies from startup stages to IPOs, all while maintaining a focus on strategic growth and leadership development. Currently, he serves as the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Carbon6.

Mumin’s Career Journey

Mumin started as a software engineer after completing a Computer Science degree. Despite his proficiency in programming, he felt a disconnect and a desire to engage more with the business side of technology—understanding how software is sold, who uses it, and its value proposition. This realization led him to pivot from programming to roles that involved more interaction with people and leadership.

At an early stage, Mumin recognized the importance of leadership skills and embarked on a conscious journey to develop these skills. He highlighted the importance of breaking down complex problems into manageable components, a skill he transferred from software engineering to business operations. His transition was facilitated by acquiring new skills, including Lean Six Sigma certification, which helped him drive process improvements at NetSuite.

Mumin’s decision to invest in himself by taking a Lean Six Sigma course paid off when he implemented process optimizations that significantly improved organizational efficiency. His approach was hands-on and proactive, reflecting his belief in self-directed leadership development rather than waiting for formal recognition.

Skill Development and Layering

Mumin emphasized the importance of being deliberate and systematic in building leadership skills. He advocated for identifying areas of strength and building upon them, using the concept of skill layering to create a unique value proposition. For instance, he combined his strengths in data analysis with new skills in presentation and storytelling to become a more effective leader.

He also grew to understand the benefits of seeking feedback to improve outcomes. Initially, Mumin struggled with presenting data compellingly but overcame this by studying techniques and seeking feedback. He highlighted the importance of pre-presenting to trusted colleagues to refine and improve presentations.

Experience in High-Growth Companies

Mumin’s career included roles in high-growth environments where he had to quickly scale teams and operations. He joined companies at various stages of growth and contributed to their journey from early revenue stages to significant market presence.

Mumin discussed the inevitability of executive team changes as companies scale and the importance of adapting to new challenges. He shared his experience at Top Hat, where he transitioned through multiple roles, including finance, sales, and customer success, often filling urgent needs within the company.

Hiring and Building Teams

Mumin stressed the importance of hiring for both skill and cultural fit, acknowledging that perfect hires are rare, and mistakes are part of the process. He recommended assessing technical skills through case studies relevant to the job and gauging candidates’ passion for their work.

Mumin underscored the need to hire individuals who fit the company’s culture, which includes understanding the intensity and pace of work. He emphasized setting clear expectations during the hiring process to ensure alignment between the candidate’s goals and the company’s culture.

Lessons Learned and Leadership Insights

Mumin’s journey is characterized by continuous learning and adapting to new roles and challenges. He advised leaders to be self-aware, seek feedback, and invest time in developing their competencies deliberately.

Mumin believes in the importance of both strategic leadership and domain expertise, advocating for a balance between understanding the business’s broader vision and the specifics of each function. He highlighted the importance of recognizing one’s limits and knowing when to bring in more experienced professionals.

Final Thoughts and Advice

Mumin shared his criteria for joining a startup, including the importance of a validated category, a substantial total addressable market, a scalable flywheel, and a competitive moat.

Mumin’s journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring leaders to take proactive steps in their career development and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. He stressed the importance of the team and their ability to execute as critical factors in a company’s success.

The interview with Mumin Al-Shawaf offers valuable insights into career development, leadership, and the dynamics of high-growth companies. His journey from software engineering to executive leadership, coupled with his strategic approach to skill development and hiring, provides a blueprint for professionals looking to navigate their own career paths and contribute meaningfully to their organizations.

Clarity has worked with Mumin Al-Shawaf and numerous C-level executives throughout their hiring and career journeys. If you’re trying to find the high-performing talent you need to build your finance, accounting and data analytics teams, we’re ready to help!

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