Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
While most kids spend their time hanging out with friends and dreaming about what they want to be when they grow up, Stratifyd’s General Manager, Ecosystem and Speech Analytics, Faraz Syed, had other plans. He helped provide for his family and made his dreams a reality by learning how to code at 6 years old, then began developing software by 13 – you could say he’s the real-life equivalent of Jimmy Neutron.
Syed was born in Pakistan. His family moved to Saudi Arabia and then Dubai by the time he was 5 years old.
When he was 6 years old, Syed asked his dad for a bicycle, but his father wasn’t keen on the idea because the locals liked to pick fights. Instead of just saying no, his father had the idea of letting him choose between two potential hobbies.
“He took me to bike shop and a computer showroom,” Syed said. “We looked around and he said, ‘Okay, which one do you want?’ I wound up choosing the computer.”
This was the point at which he became fascinated with tech and computers. He began by playing games like Dig Dug and Asteroids on his Atari console, but quickly got bored and started reading the basic programming books that came with his computer. By the time he was 10, Syed was proficient in more than seven different programming languages.
The following year, his family fell into a financial struggle and lost everything. His mom and siblings were sent back to Pakistan to live with his grandparents, but Syed stayed in Dubai with his dad.
“We were homeless,” Syed said. “We slept in the airport and tried our best to get things back on track.”
Soon after, Syed got a job at a place called the Computer Library, where he taught programming languages to engineering students. He was teaching students who were much older than him, so he sought guidance from another instructor about the best ways to do so.
“I started copying everything he did,” Syed said. “He wore baggy clothes, so I started wearing baggy clothes. He listened to Michael Jackson, so I did, too. I thought imitating everything he did would make me a better teacher.”
At 13, he began developing software to help professionals in the accounting industry. Once his product was complete, his dad started selling it to friends and colleagues. The first program sold for around 3,000 Dirhams, which, back then, was about 1,000 U.S. dollars.
“For me, that was a lot of money,” Syed said. “But in reality, I wasn’t making the money for myself, I was making it for my family. Everything I earned, I gave to my parents to help take care of the house and the family.”
At 15, Syed was hired by the largest consulting company in the Middle East where he learned how to be a professional and to speak and write English. He worked there until he was 20 and believed he had exceeded his potential.
He applied for an Extraordinary Ability Visa and traveled to the U.S. in 1998 with two suitcases, $2,000, and no idea what he was going to do for work. He found a job, an apartment, and learned to drive within three months, and Charlotte has been his home ever since.
Syed joined Stratifyd in 2018 after holding positions with Hewlett-Packard, CA Technologies, and Capgemini. As GM, Ecosystem and Speech Analytics, he’s responsible for leading the project management business unit for several different product lines, including speech analytics. He’s currently focused on growing the Stratifyd platform through software advancement.
When he’s not working, you can find him spending time on his boat in Lake Norman with his wife and 7-year-old daughter or cheering on the Carolina Panthers.
Q&A with Faraz Syed
Q: What’s your favorite thing about living in Charlotte?
A: Charlotte is special in many ways, but one thing I love about the city is that it’s close to lakes, mountains, and beaches – all within couple hours’ drive. Combine that with the vibrancy of the city and the small/close-knit city feel: That’s a perfect combination!
Q: What sparked your interest in Stratifyd?
A: Culture, People, and Technology. We have a unique culture where everyone is passionate; plus, we work hard, play hard, and the company is filled with some of the most amazing people I have met in my career. On the technology side of things, Stratifyd’s platform is on the cutting edge of innovation, as we predict human intent and empower our customers with data-driven insights. Those were the three biggest things for me.
Q: What is your favorite brand to follow on social media and why?
A: I don’t follow any brands; however, I’m always interested in growth by self-learning or learning from the experiences of others. I closely follow successful people like Tony Robbins, Bill Gates, Jeff Weiner, Gary V, Simon Sinek, and Travis Bradberry (to name a few). They all bring a unique perspective to success, self-growth, emotional intelligence, and business strategy.
Q: What is on your travel bucket list?
A: That’s an awesome question! I love to travel, so there are quite a few on my list, but Thailand and the Islands on the French Polynesia (Mo’orea, Society Islands, Tahiti, Taha’a, Hiva Oa, and AHE) are at the top. I’m also very intrigued by Patagonia and Alaska.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A: Don’t be complacent. I received this advice from a great friend and successful entrepreneur, Jeff Mack. It’s simple, but extremely powerful when you think about it.
Q: What's one thing you can't live without?
A: Growth in every aspect of life.
Q: What's the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
A: Picking up two suit cases, with $2,000 in my pocket to chase the American dream 20 years ago. That’s still the bravest thing I have done.
Q: What’s your spirit animal and why (this can also be a person/role model)?
A: My parents. Both my father, who passed away this year, and my mother have admirable qualities in their own ways. My mother is patient, smart, and outgoing. My father was always determined, passionate, and worked harder than anyone I have known.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: Time travel. History and futurism are fascinating to me.
Q: One cause that you’re passionate about?
A: Helping others grow.
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