Sana Remekie: Guiding towards the Future of Data to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Sana Remekie: Guiding towards the Future of Data to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Most of the organizations grapple with an ever-increasing number of marketing technologies and applications in their technology stacks. There is also a need for companies to adopt a best-of-breed approach. Conscia was co-founded by Sana Remekie, on the premise of creating a zero-code, self-service technology platform that enables business and IT to collaborate in an agile manner towards digital transformation initiatives, thereby cutting down implementation and integration timelines to a fraction of traditional vendors. The company frees organizations from being locked into inflexible and costly monolithic technology solutions that require expensive and time-consuming implementation and migration initiatives.  It acts as connective tissue for organizations' marketing ecosystems, which serves to coordinate and orchestrate experiences across multiple data sources, applications and touchpoints.  

Sanawho is also the CEO of Conscia, graduated from University of Waterloo, Ontario with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in System Design Engineering in 2006.  She has a tenure of over 15 years in various technology leadership roles in designing, architecting and selling software solutions at large system integrators and startups.Conscia has recently been named one of the most promising Canadian tech startups by the Lazaridis Institute and one of the trend-setting technologies of 2019 by KMWorld. 

Shaping Career Oriented Qualities from Real Life  

According to Sana, her journey as a successful female leader was shaped by the people in her life. She reminisces that her father always believed in her ability to reach incredible heights, but his wish was to see her as a doctor one day.  So initially she spent her first year in the university in a pre-medical program to grant him that wish. Unfortunately, things took a turn when her father was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. After finding out that he only had six months to live, he told Sana that he wanted her to follow her passion and advised her to excel in whatever career she chose for herself. After that, Sana decided to become a System Design Engineer as she was passionate about solving multi-faceted problems. Her father was thrilled to learn that his daughter was on her way to reach the heights; he had hoped for her. 

Sana shares that her sister, Sarwat Ismail and her best friend, Sukhwinder (Rimpy) Sidhu, whom she had first met in middle school (Grade 8) after she moved from Pakistan to Canada with her family in 1995 have had a massive impact on her life. They helped her keep one foot firmly planted on the ground as she ventured out to build her career. They were there to listen and support her through every significant event in her grown-up years from personal dilemmas to career challenges. Whenever Sana doubted herself during tested times, they reminded her of the tenacious teenage girl who wouldn't take no for an answer and had unwavering confidence in her ability to accomplish just about anything. 

Finally, her husband and Conscia's co-founder, Dwayne Remekie, helped her turn every weakness in her into her strength. He supported her through all the ups and downs of her career and life. He made sure that traditional roles of a husband and wife don't get in the way of achieving her dreams and when the demands of her career challenged those roles, he stepped up and did what was necessary. Sana informs that people sometimes used to wonder how she could work with her husband at which she laughs and points out that she and Dwayne are like two peas in a pod. As per Sana, if she and her husband had led separate careers, they may not have been able to accomplish anything for Conscia today. She is happy and feels blessed that her family, life and career are intertwined in perfect harmony. 

Influencing Traditionalist Mindset to Change 

Sana realized that establishing credibility as a woman could be challenging in a male-dominated technology field.  During her stint as technology architect who would essentially be talking to a room full of men, explaining how the technology solutions would work, was something they weren't used to. In her early years, she had to deal with people who would disregard and undermine her role. However, as her career flourished, she got better at asserting herself, gained confidence and became an effective communicator. It was then she discovered that people started to pay attention, and she was successful in changing minds and influence decisions.  

Encouraging Peers by Inclining to Humanistic Values  

Sana keenly believes that the success of transformative leadership is rooted in their ability to rally a large number of people to achieve a common purpose.  This requires three key attributes.   

Communication Skills: The leader must be able to clearly articulate his/her ideas because, without this skill, one can't even begin on the journey towards transformation. 

Empathy: One must be able to stand in other people's shoes to understand their world view to align the desirable objectives with those of every member of the team.  He/she ought to have the ability to make the team feel that the direction he/she is taking them to, is worth following and create shared meaning and purpose. 

Pragmatism – One has to be able to assess the current situation and change direction quickly when necessary, make adjustments and concessions to one's original plan when required, prioritize the efforts in relation to their importance in achieving the final goals and not get bogged down in detailed planning when faced with high levels of uncertainty. 

Prioritizing Customer First Approach 

According to Sana, Conscia spends significant share of time and energy in understanding its customers' needs and pain points and brainstorming the best way to solve those problems before the team proceeds with any software development. Conscia's team also makes sure that every feature and capability added to the software aligns with the company goals and resolves the overarching problem it is trying to counterThe team also ensures that the new features are built will serve as a generic solution that can help multiple clients rather than create custom code for specific clients.   

Intelligent Innovations for Market 

Innovation in the areas of AI, Automation, Cloud Computing and Big Data have proliferated over the last couple of decades, and this is not likely to change going forward. According to the MarTech landscape founder, Scott Brinker, there are over 8000 Marketing Technology vendors today, up from 1000 in 2015 and 150 in 2011.     

Sana is convinced of Conscia building best-of-breed technology stacks. According to her if one has an idea to build something new, chances are, someone has already made it, and put millions of dollars and hours into it. So, first and foremost, one must stay on top of the latest trends and innovations in the technology landscape and leverage what is already out there before jumping in headfirst to build something new. 

Secondly, one has to make various technology applications talk to each other. Data and system silos is one of the biggest challenges resulting from the proliferation of technologies (this is the problem that Sana and her team built Conscia to solve).  Without a coherent integration strategy to connect the dots between the various applications and systems, company leaders can end up with redundant effort, stifling complexity and it is impossible to create a connected experience for the customers. 

Lastly, companies are ultimately responsible for the ethical use of customer data. In 2020 alone, there have been several instances of data breaches involving companies such as Twitter, Zoom and Marriott.  It is no surprise that organizations are very nervous about collecting and using customer data, even for the legitimate objective of personalizing their experiences.  Technology leaders must make security and privacy a central part of their data strategy if they are to maintain customer trust and avoid reputational damage.       

Outlining Future Plans 

There is no doubt about how the proliferation of applications, the growing need for agile integration and concerns around data security will continue to be the overarching trends in the industry. Some organizations will deal with the confusion, complexity and risks associated with these trends by sticking to 'safe' incumbent software vendors.  However, success will come to those who face these challenges headon and build best-of-breed stacks that give one the freedom to innovate without being locked into a single vendor that threatens stifling innovation.  Keeping these in mind, Sana is affirmative that Conscia will establish itself as the leader in data and experience orchestration by maximizing the value of the existing technology investments and connecting new innovative solutions into the organization's technology stack. 

Advice for Next Class of Emerging Leaders 

Sana assures, "Although there are obstacles in the way, it is also important to remember that it is our job to advocate for ourselves and stand up to fight for our success. Very often, we give up too early, before we have even given something a proper chance". She explains that this attitude creates a self-fulfilling prophecy as people turn their perception of the likely outcome into reality. She further advises to look to strong females in life as role models for support, advice and inspiration and likewise, pave the way for others.

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