Q&A with NCR’s Professional Services leader Ismail Amla

26 November 2021 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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Ismail Amla serves as the Executive Vice President responsible for the strategic direction and execution of NCR’s Global Professional Services business. In discussion with Cat Callen from RDW, he shares the how he motivates his team, and nurtures the firm's culture.   

Can you tell us what drives you to succeed and how you keep this focus every day?

I find that purpose is all-important, for both business and individuals. A corporate purpose which aligns with a personal purpose is for me the magic combination needed to commit, focus and drive.

This is particularly important in the post-pandemic world where we are all questioning how and where we spend our time and how it contributes to positively impacting the world in which we live and work.

Ismail Amla, EVP Professional Services, NCR

Throughout your career I am sure you have met many inspirational individuals, who do you feel inspired you the most and what traits did they possess?

I have been blessed with great mentors who have shaped my professional and personal development. Keith Wilman, CEO at CSC UK and superb business operator who gave me my first business leadership opportunity, Lis Astall and David Thomlinson at Accenture who forced me to learn about the importance of employee engagement and Rob Heyvaert at Capco who taught me what it means to be an entrepreneur and moved me and my family to the USA for an amazing nine years.

What do you feel is the most important part of your role today, and has this changed over the years?

I do think that the role of the leader is changing such that it is important to think more like a servant leader to engage employees, partner with great eco system partners and drive innovation for clients. Today, I see my role to encourage diversity of thought, create a culture of trust and create leadership in others.

Can you tell us about the culture at NCR and how, as a leader, you keep this alive for employees?

NCR’s culture reflects our customer-first mindset, which has come down to us from our founder, John Patterson, through our 130-plus year history. It also reflects our deep expertise in the three industries we support – financial services, retail, and hospitality, and the accumulated knowledge of our team.

My role is to channel these strengths into the next level of growth for NCR Professional Services, by building them even further and helping our team take a consulting, business-challenge led approach to working with our customers.

Our professional services team is made up of a global network of technologists who deliver technology consulting to the banking, retail and hospitality sectors and technology implementation services covering platform integration, data analytics, artificial intelligence, cloud, security and customer experience.

How do you encourage creative thinking within your team?

In thinking about how to encourage creative thinking it worth thinking about how to disorganise for disruption. In other words, how do we change our structures to allow innovation to thrive?

This can include how we crowdsource ideas; break down barriers between teams; how we create small agile blended teams; encourage connections between all teams in pursuit of new ways of thinking and to create a safe space for experimentation and learning.

Last question… your go to motivational song?

Purple rain, Prince… that guitar!

About Ismail Amla
Ismail Amla is an Executive Vice President for Professional Services at NCR. Prior to his role at NCR, Ismail served as Chief Growth Officer at Capita, and as Managing Partner for IBM’s Global Business Services in North America, CEO for Capco in North America and as a Senior Partner at Accenture, where he was a member of the UK leadership team.

About Cat Callen
Cat Callen is an Associate Partner at RDW, a specialist executive search and interim management firm focused on the advisory market. Cat is based in the firm’s London office and is passionate about diversity and inclusivity within her marketplace and, in particular, women in leadership.

Earlier instalments of the series with RDW:
Q&A with KPMG UK executive committee member Dan Thomas 
Q&A with Jillian Moore, Avanade's Global Advisory leader
Benoit Laclau, UK&I Managing Partner of EY Consulting 
Jean Stephens was named CEO of RSM International