Homecoming: Omer Ali Khan moved across the world, but he was still returning home
- Posted on February 5, 2020
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
“Homecoming” is our series in which we tell the stories of Avanade “boomerangs,” employees who left the company for other opportunities before returning. Careers are long and winding, and personal and professional aspirations vary from person to person. It’s natural for people to want to branch out, but wherever you go and whatever you do, there is always a home for you at Avanade.
As general manager of ASEAN, Omer Ali Khan’s job is to bring the Avanade global capability to the local level, driving and building business in Singapore and Malaysia. To do that, his day takes him around the world. Based in Singapore, his morning calls are often with colleagues in North America. Through lunch and the afternoon, he may work with team members more locally while also fielding calls from Europe. Later in the evening, he might communicate back around the world with Brazil. Avanade is a global company, and Omer’s daily journey through the time zones reflect that.
Just as there is no one time zone, Omer’s time at Avanade has no one city or even continent. When he came to Avanade from Accenture in 2005, he was one of the company’s first employees in Houston. He left for an opportunity at IBM in 2013, but when he returned to Avanade in 2016, it was for a new opportunity in Singapore. It wasn’t the country that Omer came home to, but to Avanade itself.
“The buzz and the energy that I see in the Avanade offices compared to what I saw when I left is something unique about this place,” Omer said. “There’s always excitement and something going on with people writing on the whiteboards, and there’s lots of discussion and dialogue around how do we win, how do we compete, how do we deliver, how do we solve a complex problem. I see that in every Avanade office.”
The opportunity came about as Omer was finishing up his executive MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. IBM approached him to develop their new North America Apple-IBM partnership for the petroleum, chemical and industrial sector clients, which was a chance to try something new at another place with start-up energy but big-name recognition.
“It sounds like a cliché, but there was a cultural shock after growing up in Accenture and Avanade,” he said. “While I was successful from a work perspective, I always felt like I was missing what makes this place special, which is how we connect, how we collaborate, support one another as we’re going after business. It was different. The entrepreneurialism and the ability to take on as many different roles as you like – that opportunity is quite unique to Avanade.”
That flexibility and opportunity to take on new challenges was what brought Omer back to Avanade. At IBM, he was in talks for a role in Singapore, but when that move became possible at Avanade, he decided it was time to come home.
“At Avanade, you can decide to do whatever it is you want to do to progress the business. Nobody is going to come in and say, you can’t do that, that’s not your role. They’re going to say, ‘We’re here to support you, what do you want to drive?’ I think it’s harder when you’re in a large organization because those processes are significant and they have a lot of people in those areas. Whereas at Avanade, you can wear multiple hats, and part of my success at Avanade is that all my career, over the last 12-plus years, I’ve been able to do what I really wanted to do, and I’ve gotten great support from teams across the globe.”
Though he returned as Technology Services Market Unit Lead for the area, within a year, Omer was asked to step up as the General Manager for ASEAN – Singapore and Malaysia. He said he has loved to return to the work culture he cherishes while also learning so much in his new Growth Markets role. His family can experience a new part of the world, his children have picked up Chinese and he is using what he learned at IBM to drive even more growth at Avanade and cultivate a top team. Omer said now more than ever, he’s excited to be part of what’s happening at Avanade.
“I am so inspired to be here,” Omer said. “When you look at what’s happening with Accenture Microsoft Business Group, the commitment that we have between the three organizations to drive the Microsoft business to $10 billion, that opportunity itself presents tremendous head room for everyone at Avanade. It’s just a great time for all of us to be going through this phase of our growth. I think all of us here now have the opportunity to define what this place will look like for the next generation. Certainly as we grow, it will be interesting to see how we maintain our entrepreneurial spirit and this culture that I so dearly love.”