TELUS’ Hesham Fahmy on transforming to ‘a fully digital and cloud-native organization’

Having worked with many senior IT executives over the past number of years from Canada’s leading organizations, it’s always a pleasure to speak with those that have a keen understanding of the importance of linking business outcomes with the role of technology.

Executive discussions are changing to include being software and data-driven, with the key mindset of transitioning to cloud-enabled environments in today’s ever evolving digital era. Forward-thinking leaders and organizations in both the private and public sectors are actively evaluating a variety of options, as cloud should be thought of as a both a business  and a technology strategy. Data-driven innovations challenge organizations to build technical architectures, leveraging technologies to gain insights into their business and customers. Additionally, organizations must build “trust” of the data to improve decision-making throughout all levels of the organization.

I was delighted to sit down with Hesham Fahmy in his new role as Chief Development Officer at TELUS. Hesham brings a wealth of knowledge to the table, and shares insights that are helpful to seasoned CIOs, as well as IT leaders starting to think about their go-forward technology and business strategies.

Brian Clendenin: Tell me a bit about yourself and your role at TELUS.

Hesham Fahmy: I have always been a builder at heart, passionate about using technology to innovate and achieve the impossible. For the past 24 years, I have been focused on creating software products and solutions for organizations such as IBM, DonRiver, Virgin Mobile, and ecobee, and with seven granted patents, I have really enjoyed building and scaling disruptive products in IoT, retail, and Fintech. Right before joining TELUS, I was the Vice President of Technology and General Manager, Marketplace at Loblaw Digital, where I led the technical delivery and operations of omni-channel experiences, and the transition of all of Loblaws’ digital platforms to Google Cloud.

As the Chief Development Officer (CDO) at TELUS, I am involved right at the heart of our digital transformation into a software-centric and cloud-enabled organization. This is a bit different from a traditional Chief Information Officer you might see at other organizations, as my role includes more than managing and implementing the company’s information technology needs. Rather, my role focuses on driving the next wave of technology transformation for TELUS to a fully digital and cloud-native organization; serving new lines of business, and addressing our customers’ and organization’s needs better than ever before.

Our CDO team at TELUS is a crucial centre of excellence, leading consistent software engineering standards and methodologies, while bringing more reliable, scalable capabilities to the market faster. We believe that, in this cloud-era, it is vital for us to enhance the way we roadmap, design, build, and deploy applications, including shifting our focus from projects, servers, and databases to delivering end-to-end software products that are reusable across multiple business units and customer groups.

As we establish and implement these infrastructure and service changes, we are also diligently strengthening and advancing our agile and DevOps practices to enable our teams to accelerate our cloud transformation. With consistent practices and guidelines, we ensure we can deliver applications to market faster, more efficiently, and in a continuous feedback cycle.

Brian: What insight can you share about TELUS’ digital transformation?

Hesham: TELUS is making a rapid shift to a software-driven, cloud, and insight-enabled environment, which will support all of our business models, applications, services, networks, and IT infrastructure in today’s ever evolving digital era. Our goal is to enable TELUS to be a software-driven and cloud-enabled organization – building technology platforms that can power solutions for our customers and Canadian enterprises. The future is bright and full of possibilities for us to become more agile, more innovative, and solve challenges more quickly.

By moving towards a software development-focused team and company, we have the opportunity to capitalize on digital ecosystems moving faster, while developing enablement platforms for our customers and communities. Our future cloud state will also help power the Canadian economy by leveraging our world-leading networks, customer-centric, and scalable platforms to create outcome driven services and products, today, tomorrow, and beyond.

As we continue our digitization journey, a key priority is to keep investing in the skills of our abundantly talented teams to truly unlock the full potential of cloud technology. We are developing purpose-driven, future focused teams who can deliver best-in-class technology solutions to solve complex, real-world problems in a digital era.

Brian: How is TELUS shifting to a cloud-enabled environment?

Hesham: Over the last few years, TELUS has been making the shift to a cloud-enabled environment, through platforms and capabilities to support our teams and customers with more opportunities. As a leader in network and technology innovation, we have a unique vantage point to deliver the best outcomes for Canadians, and yet-to-be-imagined possibilities in our hyper-connected world.

With any transformation of this scale, it’s important to have a clear vision in mind and establish distinct, measurable steps to achieve this vision.

For TELUS, a pivotal part of accelerating this journey has been our 10-year strategic alliance with Google Cloud. Entering its second year now, our partnership is focused on: advancing TELUS’ adoption of Google Cloud Platform (GCP), modernizing our core IT and network infrastructure, migrating our on-premise IT infrastructure to the cloud for enhanced scalability and security, and achieving greater operational agility.

Working closely with Google, we have been moving workloads to the cloud, gaining agility and faster time to market for every system moved. This is a continuum, with some systems being modernized right away, while others moved in a ‘lift and shift’ fashion to reap the immediate benefits of cloud elasticity and deployment resiliency to begin with, and then gradually modernized to be cloud native.

We are also building training programs and hands-on environments for our team members to become cloud experts, along with communities of practice to help evolve the cloud knowledge within our teams.

Brian: Based on all of this digital growth, what is your vision for the future of TELUS?

Hesham: Over the past few years, we have made tremendous progress on our vision of advancing from being a traditional telecommunications company, to an innovative technology organization. Through our commitment to social capitalism and ESG, and with our strategic divisions (such as health, agriculture, and Internet of Things (IoT)), we are leveraging our expertise to be a platform company, where elements of each of our lines of business are blended to create new services and opportunities, and ultimately help people across Canada. Technology can be a force multiplier for good in our communities, and have a positive impact; I want to see that commitment continue throughout our work.

I am proud to say that we are well on our way to become a cloud-enabled technology leader in Canada. This makes TELUS an exciting place to work for not just for our existing team members, but also for up-and-coming and seasoned technologists. We’re incredibly proud of our abundantly talented teams. Our mission is to equip them with the skills, knowledge, best practices, and processes needed to successfully transform the way we work. With so much opportunity for world class technology innovation, TELUS is going to continue to elevate a digital future for those in Canada and beyond.

Brian: What are you looking forward to in 2022?

Hesham: 2022 is already off to a great start as we ramp up our cloud adoption and move to Google’s secure cloud environment during our second year of partnership with Google. This year, we’re really looking forward to growing our team by more than 160 exciting software development roles as we continue to build strong, collaborative teams, empowered with the tools and processes that constantly optimize our teams’ focus, flow, and joy.

We will continue with our cloud journey and transform a large portion of TELUS’s core systems to be cloud native as well as start to realize some of the benefits of our investment in cloud transformation. We are also working on modernizing our team technology and systems to support our growth at TELUS, while simplifying the internal experience of getting work done. As always, we remain laser focused on delivering superior customer outcomes, and I can’t wait to publicly share some of the innovation prototypes and early versions we’re developing collaboratively with Google to improve the lives of those in Canada.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Brian Clendenin
Brian Clendenin
Widely recognized as a powerful speaker intertwining storytelling and expertise, Clendenin writes and speaks on the topics of leadership, cloud, observability, devops, AI, security, mobility, IT strategy, and digital transformation. Invests his time interviewing engaging thought leaders. "We are at one of the most exciting moments in history when it comes to innovation in IT driving innovation in business." (Recommendation: For more insights across a variety of topics from life to leadership, Follow Brian Clendenin on LinkedIn)

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