August 14, 2020

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FTTH Council MENA Interview series: Ms. Fatima Saleh

With the Coronavirus spreading all over the world, it is essential to start applying alternative solutions to carry on our daily routines.

The governmental authorities might have restricted our physical and social interactions, but we remain constantly connected through technology. Ms. Fatimah Saleh agreed to share her experience through our newsletter and give us insight into her life and work at this one in a lifetime experience in living ONLINE.

Biography of Ms. Fatima Saleh

Ms. Fatima Mohd. Saleh, Vice President/ Strategic Design & Smart City Strategies

FTTH Council MENA Board Member

Ms. Fatima Mohd. Saleh is the Vice president of Strategic Design & Smart City Strategies department of Etisalat which is responsible for the Network Modernization, FTTH Leadership, Smart city strategies and Talent management tasks within the entire UAE. The task managed by Ms. Fatima covers the scope of digital transformation initiatives, strategic designs, replacing the aging legacy access network with GPON network. Prior to the new posting in January 2020, Ms. Fatima Mohd. Saleh held the position of Vice president of Fixed Access Network department of Etisalat which is responsible for the FTTH deployment, Fibre To The Mobile sites and Network modernization. The task managed by Ms. Fatima covers the scope of providing Fibre access infrastructure to 1.9 million strong residential and business tenancies, transport network connecting all switches and Fiber backbone of mobile sites. Reform of the aging copper access network with Fibre based IP platform.

During the last 21 years, as a telecommunication professional with Etisalat, Ms. Fatima has gained a wealth of experience in a wide spectrum of technological and management landscape under a challenging circumstance. The distinguish career was enriched with involvements in strategic and technological initiations, process automation, budget control, Project & Performance Management, Negotiation & Contract Management, vender management and formulation of Policies & Guidelines that helped the Corporation to lead as an advance and modern telecommunication giant in the industry. Further Ms. Fatima was appointed to the Board of Directors of FTTH Council Middle East and North Africa which is an Industry organization promoting ultra-high-speed access networks to consumers and businesses.

Ms. Fatima has earned a Bachelor degree in Architecture from UAE University and MBA from American university of Sharjah that provided the strength and all required solid academic credentials to blend the dynamic market demands with innovative technologies.

Ms. Fatima is a keen Traveler exploring unknown territories, reading business journals and interested in textile designing and interior designing. Speaks Excellent Arabic & English.

Part 1: Personal Experience 

Describe your own work from home experience, how do you communicate with your team, partners and customers?

 Mobility and the remote working were part of the day to day routing work. As the Vice President of Fixed access network, frequent visits to all other areas within the country was an essential part of the work. So, the required all ICT systems were in place to manage, conduct, monitor all operations on the move. But the main challenge under the covid-19 pandemic situation was to mobilize all employees into the remote operation mode within a very short period. Etisalat being the global number one in the FTTH penetration has once again proved it’s agility to adopt to any kind of situation providing access to the central IT systems and the technical platforms to all employees with a proper controlled mechanism. Therefore, carrying out our duties were not affected as the discussions and meetings were intact enabling all operations unhindered.

 

Do you think the work efficiency increased or decreased?

 In fact, the work efficiency in terms of expected outcome has increased. Less disturbances and distractions affect the efficiency the most while working from home. Much needed focus on a particular work also a fact that can be achieved while working remotely. Employees are accountable and more responsible on the work that they are vested on.

 

For how long you think you can survive working from home?

 Under the pandemic situation as far as all other related partners, customers, entities are working from home and the circumstances are same for all, we too can move parallel. But the situation has been improved due to the timely actions taken by the UAE government to curtail the virus, so the confidence has been built to normalize the operations with strict health measures in place. Therefore, the isolation is not required anymore as the most difficult period is over.      

 

If you have kids in the family, how do you evaluate the e-learning experience?

 As in the almost all in our activities, this unprecedented event has forced all of us without any exception, to take drastic actions, thinking out of the box to resort on various innovations for the survival. World has stepped in to unknown or untested areas where all these solutions were not used in a mass scale. As the situation forced to embark on such solutions and now it has proved the potential of such technologies. The lessons learnt through these experiences will be a leap into the next level where e-learning also become a beneficiary of the change. Kids as well as teachers guided by educational institutions can carry this experience to improve the education systems further effectively.

 

 Part 2: Infrastructure and Preparation:

Describe the role played by ETISALAT to facilitate digital communication during COVID-19?

The telecommunication infrastructure network which Etisalat has developed over a decade proved to be the best in terms of the high bandwidth fibre penetration. Etisalat earned the global number one position in the FTTH penetration for three consecutive years from 2016 to 2018. Hope to continue in the same phase as the ranking which declare by FTTH Council is yet to be announced for the year 2019. UAE is fully covered with the state of art GPON network; therefore we didn’t face any bandwidth issue to cater the exponential customer demands during this isolation period.    

 

What do you think would be the long-term adaptation to work or study from home and how do you think this will change our life going forward?

The whole unexpected, unprepared event has taken the mankind to think and act differently. The life will be totally changed hereafter and the travelling, interactions, the way of doing business and all our day to day activities will change. Same time there are many opportunities created because of this pandemic. These changes will reflect in all sectors as well as human behavioural changes too. Since human interactions will be done more, through technical platforms than physical as we used to do so far. Investing in technology will be a cost saving in long run cutting down travelling, accommodation, and related expenses for business trips etc. As a service provider, Etisalat is in the focal point enabling all these aspirations to realize and materialize means of connecting people and businesses.  

 

Do you think what happened recently will encourage operators and countries to invest in FTTH/B network role out as it is proved it is more reliable?

 Yes, FTTH has proved to be the reliable and most efficient mode of connectivity. The current pandemic has forced all operators to invest heavily in fibre-based technologies to cater raising demand. Their survival will be on how fast they can understand and adopt to the dynamic situation and fulfil the raising demand.

 

Due to the enormous flow of data with sensitivity and confidentiality through the network, Security of data is a challenge. How the fibre connectivity ensures this vital aspect?

 Today’s world the data security is the most vulnerable segment in the ICT platforms. As almost all transactions are been done over the ICT networks, the data security should be treated with utmost care without compromising any. Fibre networks are the most secured and efficient comparing to all other technologies available right now. There is a very seldom chance to intercept the data carrying through fibre networks, so the fibre connectivity is the future to provide data security in the future world. 

 

At the end of this interview, would you like to say anything to our readers? 

I would like to highlight that remote access is the lifeline in a lockdown situation, smart applications deployed on FTTx technologies is the reliable platform to operate in an unexpected scenario as of now.

By now, it has been everyone’s experience. Kids, teachers, parents, employers, employees, businesses, and governments, all have gone through the remote operational mode. It has opened up a new means of operation models which could be interpreted to be more cost effective, more efficient, more reliable and more time saving. Therefore, even after opened up markets and workplaces including schools there will be more remote access with smart applications using high bandwidth solutions remain and dictate our personal and business lives. The digital age will be realized in a fast track cutting many steps short that was foretold in pre covid 19 era. 

Thank you.

 

 

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