With all that’s happened over the last two years, there has never been a greater need for inspiration, connectedness and learning. And for that, we need to look no further than our curious employees!
That’s the idea behind Big Ideas, our internal series of short, inspiring employee talks. Each year, our people submit their biggest, brightest and best Big Ideas – and a select few are chosen to share from the main stage. These talks inspire us, pique our curiosity, and remind us of the power of innovation and ideation; and we look forward to them every year.
This year’s talks were among our favorites, so we’re sharing some of them with you!
Today, hear from Hamza Ghadyali, an Artificial Intelligence Specialist based in our Cary world headquarters office. While Hamza has a PhD in Mathematics, his second greatest passion is communications. His Big Idea is all about connection – and how empathy, diversity and our common humanity are our greatest strengths.
Hamza’s Big Idea
“I felt like I had something important to share with this message,” explains Hamza. “Now more than ever, togetherness is so important. Especially during the pandemic – a time when we’re needing to band together the most – we’re simultaneously needing to stay apart.”
For Hamza, it’s a theme that goes beyond the pandemic: “The world is changing rapidly, and technology has a growing influence on our lives. It’s changing the world,” he explains. “The way I see it, a lot of the division we see these days can be explained by a fear of change, and it affects each of us differently.”
What’s the solution? According to Hamza, it’s authentic connection; powered by empathetic curiosity. “We all have to be curious and lean in with empathy, he shares. “Curiosity alone isn’t enough. Empathetic curiosity allows us to connect with people who we don’t understand, or even strongly disagree with. If we lead with empathetic curiosity, we can all learn together.”
The importance of diversity
For Hamza, appreciation of diversity and the importance of connection started early-on. “My family immigrated to the United States from India when I was three years old,” he shares. “I grew up in a very diverse area of Michigan – my high school had kids from over 100 countries. From an early age, I understood the value of understanding other people’s cultures and perspectives. I had many friends who were very different from me, but we all found something in common.”
For Hamza, this early-learned perspective is also valuable to the workplace: “Diversity at work is so important. It’s how you get different perspectives on a problem you’re trying to tackle, or a bug you’re trying to fix. It’s essential for innovation and problem solving, especially at a software company like SAS,” he explains.
Finding and fostering connection at SAS
At SAS, connection is in our DNA. “There are so many activities [at our HQ campus]for connection,” Hamza shares. “Gathering to share a meal in the cafes, playing soccer at lunch, going to the gym – there are endless opportunities to connect with others.”
One of Hamza’s favorite ways to connect with others at SAS is at Big Fridays, a weekly call facilitated by SAS’ Black Initiatives Group (BIG), one of our Employee Inclusion Groups. “It’s a picture of what can happen when diverse groups come together to learn from each other and grow in a safe space,” he says.
Outside the office
Hamza’s always connecting with others and enjoys traveling and learning new languages. “I’m currently focused on learning Chinese,” he explains. He also enjoys spending time with his wife and their dog, Rooty, who they adopted from Saving Grace, a local non-profit dog rescue.
We’re inspired by Hamza and his Big Idea, and we hope you are, too! Let us know in the comments – how will you use your most human superpower to make the world a better place?