Saifur Rahman, Professor, and Director at Virginia Tech shares his view on what it takes to be a successful leader and collaborator. He notes that to be a leader, it takes time and willingness to learn and develop. As an engineer and teacher, Rahman gives his view on the impact that Artificial Intelligence has, and will continue to have, on the evolution of the power and energy sector.
This interview was originally published in The Global Power & Energy Elites 2022
WHAT’S THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ THIS YEAR?
I live by the book ‘Humans‘ by Brandon Stanton. It is made up of short stories, each with a unique storyline.
I was born in Bangladesh and I have seen how people progress, the barriers they face, and how some can overcome these and others not. In one of the short stories, the grandfather is saying to his grandson that he could not go to school because there was no school nearby but he would go to school to become someone special. On the surface, people have different aspirations but inside they are the same: they all want to be somebody. The author brings out the inner feelings of people from different countries, cultures, religions, and backgrounds, which made a strong impression.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A SUCCESSFUL LEADER?
To be a leader takes time and willingness to learn and develop. You need to earn people’s trust by actively listening, people will remember you for that. You also need to be fair and transparent, while supporting people to become the best that they can be.
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED?
The first is to listen carefully and not to react to everything you hear. I tell my students the same thing: you have two ears and one mouth: listen more than you talk.
I encourage my students to listen actively in class, and if they have a question while I am speaking, stop me and ask. Do not think of going back to the dorm and trying to figure it out. I want them to leave the lecture fully satisfied, otherwise not to leave the classroom.
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About Saifur Rahman
Saifur Rahman has had a long and distinguished career in teaching, research, and consulting in electrical engineering within the US and internationally, with interests ranging from alternative energies to energy efficiency and blockchain. Saifur is the founding director of the Advanced Research Institute at Virginia Tech, directs the Center for Energy and the Global Environment, and is the founder of BEM Controls, LLC, a Virginia-based software company providing building energy management solutions.