Current Company: Oracle
Company Founded: GoAhead Software Inc. (Acquired by Oracle in 2011)
Year started: 1998
Offices: Bellevue, WA
Activity: Develops and provides management infrastructure software for telecommunications and the aerospace and defense industries.
Employees: Approximately 200 at time of sale to Oracle
Attended: Michigan State University
Degree: M.S., Electrical Engineering, 1980; PhD., Electrical and Computer Engineering, 1984
Company website: Oracle.com
“The industry was saying ‘let’s build systems that don’t fail.’ We turned the argument upside down and said, ‘Let’s assume systems will fail, and figure out how we maintain end user service in the presence of those failures.’”
Asif Naseem helped relaunch GoAhead Software Inc. in 2004 after the telecommunications industry went through several tough years in which new technologies such as VoIP ate away at telecom companies’ traditional business. GoAhead Software develops and markets management infrastructure software for telecommunications and the aerospace and defense industries.
Under Naseem’s leadership, GoAhead Software grew to become the market leader. It was acquired by Oracle Corp. in 2011, and Naseem now serves as vice president of Oracle’s global communications business unit.
The entrepreneurial seed was planted while Naseem was in graduate school at Michigan State University. He and his advisor received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a microprocessor-based system that would detect the likelihood of particular crops developing certain types of diseases. The USDA’s goal was to eliminate wasteful and harmful spraying of unnecessary pesticides. Naseem developed a model and prototyped it at MSU before transferring the technology to a company that commercialized it.
Naseem began his career with AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he held various technical and management positions. He went on to serve as a general manager at Motorola based in the United Kingdom, where he started and successfully ran a new wireless applications business for Motorola. He also became the chief operating officer of Iospan Wireless Inc. before it was acquired by Intel Corp. and L3 Communications.
“Entrepreneurs have to create a single cohesive culture and everyone has to work within that culture, then the leader’s job is to capture their imagination.”
Since Oracle’s acquisition of GoAhead a year and a half ago, Naseem has worked to integrate his team from North America, Poland, and India into Oracle’s team, and he’s done so without losing a single engineer. Naseem believes that it is very important when putting together a team that the chemistry and culture fit is there, and says that people will work hard when they can make a personal connection to the company’s vision.
To Naseem, a leader’s job is to know what gets his or her people excited and invent a creative view of the future that captures their imagination and draws them in. “When you work on something you’re passionate about, nothing matches that, you don’t look at the clock, and the work becomes a part of you,” he said. “So few of us find it, but when we do, it’s a pure joy.”
For the past 20 years Naseem has been actively engaged in driving and promoting standards for the computing and telecommunications industries. He serves on the advisory boards of several telecommunications-related conferences and regularly visits MSU to give seminars to the faculty and students.
That entrepreneurial bug Naseem had in graduate school is still very much a part of him today. He wants to make sure that his team is settled into its new home. Once that’s in place, he’ll start thinking about the next entrepreneurial activity he wants to launch.