From the war-town of Marjaayoun to the Presidency of a US software company, passing by numerous hardships and several executive positions, Amer Deeba is dubbed as the Rare Executive in the software industry, for little is known of a person in his position and field capable of mastering all related aspects, from creating the code and developing it, to market it and provide customer support. Maybe most importantly about Amer Deeba, for us, is his journey and the powerful message he is imparting.
Deeba is not your usual software engineer. He was actually one of the first engineers on the Acrobat project for Adobe and, since then, and throughout the past 10 years, he has been in demand by companies wanting him on board.
He assumed various roles at various tech companies in the US; from General Manager, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chief Commercial Officer to Vice-President of corporate development and strategic alliances.
Native of the Marjaayoun town of South Lebanon, born in 1967, Amer had to make his way in life through extreme challenges, including the war in his town, the fleeing as a kid hidden in a taxi trunk to Beirut, getting his education at AUB amidst the raging war, emigrating to the US, enduring discrimination and bullying from coworkers, and so on.
Yet, he kept going, focusing on the constructive aspects of life that could bring him into a successful career and life, and he has done so, believing in himself. In his words, “You can be your own best friend or your worst enemy.”
Despite the war he lived in Lebanon, Amer insists that he grew up in a happy household full of love and support with parents stressing the importance of education as a mean for a better future.
“My brothers and I took their advice to heart. We all became professionals. I graduated from the American University of Beirut with an Electrical Engineering degree, and later moved to California to pursue a master’s degree,” Amer said in his interview with Forbes on October 11, 2019.
Amer is the type of person who can see the positive side of challenges, even in the harshest of circumstances when everything seems to be falling apart, which accounts significantly for his achievement in life.
The chaos and craziness of war taught him to be resilient and resourceful, and gave him “a great perspective on life,” as he says. There is even more that he deems having acquired thanks to his life challenges, both in the war and in his struggles through in the US.
He learned the importance to be decisive and trust his judgment, to prioritize “life-long learning and hard work,” and to be willing to stretch beyond his comfort zone in order “to grow personally and professionally.”
These learnings, Amer made them part of who he is, allocating them in his career in software engineering, which brought him gradually to stand out and be recognized for his talents, and soon to climb the ladder of success.
It all started five years into his career while working at Verity. The CEO noticed his strength so he brought him to engage in customer meetings and product management work. Five years through and while doing an engineering job at Adobe, writing software for Acrobat, the startup Signio recruited him to handle the business side of its payment services.
Signio would come to be acquired by Verisign, the global provider of domain names, that operates a diverse array of network infrastructure, including the authoritative registry for the .com, .net, and .name generic top-level domains, the .cc and .tv (country-code top-level domains) and the back-end systems for the .jobs, .gov, and .edu top-level domains.
Amer was assigned the payment services at Verisign as General Manager and he went on achieving for the company a sales growth of 150%. Amer continued to be in demand by other companies in the industry and, in 2001, was recruited by Qualys, a company that provides cloud security, compliance, and related services, also in California.
Moogsoft, which was founded between 2011 and 2012, counts today over 120 customers worldwide, including American Airlines, GoDaddy, SAP SuccessFactors, Intuit, Yahoo! and HCL Technologies, among others.
When asked by Forbes to describe a painful setback in his life and what it taught him, Amer recounted that leaving home for his master’s degree in the U.S.” was traumatic at first.”
“During the first six months, I felt so out of place, homesick, and disoriented that I would have gone back without a second thought. Problem was, I had no money. Working through those challenges in my early 20’s helped me grow and mature and ignited in me a drive to succeed despite personal obstacles.”
These weren’t the only obstacles Amer had to overcome. There was also his career’s challenges and, as per him, they were many and of all sorts.
However, instead of dwelling on them, he recounts what really matters: That which made him overcome them and progress. “I take each challenge as an opportunity to learn. (…) As you face and deal with all those obstacles and challenges, you learn and hone your leadership skills.”
And Amer has had a particular way to stand out as an executive in the “extremely competitive” tech world. His leadership style has allowed him to offer a unique perspective and continued value. It sums up to: Understanding things before acting by doing his own research, then consulting people with relevant knowledge, and then taking his decision without looking back or getting distracted by others.
In his words to Forbes, “If you’re hesitant and doubt yourself, you’ll suffer from “analysis paralysis” and people around you will lose confidence. What’s worse, the people you manage will sense your lack of conviction and may become confused. I move forward with conviction, but if and when I realize I’ve made a mistake, then I pivot quickly.”
Interesting enough, Amer has been in the path of mindfulness, which he practices with his wife. In that regard, he says, “Mindfulness lets you be in the present moment. It increases your emotional intelligence. It helps you understand your situations, make better decisions, and become calmer, less reactive, and more engaged.”
It is true that the generation of Lebanese people who lived or grew up during the civil war had come to hone their innate survival skills and the resilience to overcome challenges. Amer is no exception in that he tries to anticipate problems so he can address them quickly; as he explains to Forbes. However, his mindfulness practice has taught him to endorse a much valuable stance.
In his words, “Too much of that attitude creates unnecessary anxiety, especially when concerns are unjustified. Anxiety prevents you from appreciating the present moment. These mindful qualities are important for business leaders as well, to project calmness and confidence.”
And with the teachings of mindfulness comes empathy, an evolved human attitude that he applies also in his business. One of his three main points in his personal leadership credo is: “Have empathy for the parties affected by your decisions.”
For the young people wishing to rise, he has a valuable advice to share, “Seek out what you love and go for it. That’s what I did. I set goals and pursued them. Get a good education, seek the right mentors, insert yourself in the right situations, make yourself relevant. Believe in yourself. You can be your own best friend or your worst enemy.”