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Asnaf Qadir makes his IT career
with SWIFT

Headquartered in Virginia, his group spreads across Europe, Asia-Pacific and the U.S. with IT service management and desktop support

Asnaf Qadir: helping the customers achieve what they need to have.Asnaf Qadir’s transition from Pakistan to America was like his transition from ME to IS management. He made both changes in the interest of personal development.

In 1987 Qadir completed his BSME at the University of Engineering and Technology (Peshawar, Pakistan). Two years later he came to George Washington University (Washington, DC) for his MS, planning to continue in ME. But the opportunities he found in the U.S. led him into new and unexpected arenas.

He preferred IT
Today Qadir has his MSME, but he’s working in Manassas, VA as satellite support team lead for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which is headquartered in Belgium and has offices around the world.

“I got more and more into IT,” he says. “I felt I liked it better. When you work on an issue and resolve it, you enjoy both the technical satisfaction and the satisfaction of your customer.”

Member-owned co-op
SWIFT is a member-owned cooperative that securely exchanges proprietary data among financial institutions. This lets customers connect and exchange financial information, automate, and standardize transactions. More than 8,300 banking organizations, securities institutions and corporate customers in more than 200 countries use SWIFT to exchange financial information.

Worldwide service management
Qadir’s team includes three Swift people and seven contractors. They take care of internal users who need desktop services. “My group spreads across Europe, Asia-Pacific and the U.S. to provide IT service related to desktop support,” he says. “We also coordinate a lot of projects.” A recent one was the installation of a collaboration tool used to facilitate meetings.

The team can be working on a number of projects at once, some executed remotely and some requiring travel. “With the economy what it is, we’re focusing on doing more of our stuff remotely, but we do travel,” Qadir says. “We go to SWIFT’s conventions for banks, where we set up the network and provide support.”

He likes his customer-centered job. “When I go out and interact with the stakeholders and our customers, I put the project in a form that helps the customers achieve what they need to have. I try to interact with customers and gather feedback, and based on that they get a project that benefits them.”

His low-key personality helps resolve problems. One customer in Brazil said, “Whenever I call you, you explain everything in such a calm way.”

He laughs about that. “That’s my job,” he says. “Especially when dealing with management having problems, you have to be calm.”

Starting out
Early in his ME career Qadir came face-to-face with computer technology. He soon realized that his aptitude for IS was an important strength. His first job out of college, as an ME in energy management systems at Quadrangle Development Corp (Washington, DC), required him to work with computers.

He was there for half a year, then became an IT consultant for the Department of Energy (McLean, VA), mostly handling customer inquiries and database work. In 1998 he moved to Communications Engineering Inc (Newington, VA), as an ME with additional responsibility for managing a computer network.

“When I was looking at changing my career, I started doing A+ certification,” he recalls. “There was a job fair at my school, and I saw a company looking for someone to work at a site. I had the Macintosh background they needed.” The company was SWIFT.

The big small company
He started in 2000 as a consultant, then was brought in full-time as a systems admin. “The ideological mindset that I developed in engineering is helpful in IT,” he notes. “It’s problem management. You have an issue and need to look at it and resolve it.”

He also enjoys the small-company working environment at his office. “I worked for a few months and knew everybody. It felt like home and it was easy to work with the people.”

He did leave for a little while to try a different company, but he soon came back to SWIFT.

Into team management
Because Qadir’s team spans various geographical locations, his challenge as a manager is to bring everybody to a common understanding, even if not on common soil.

“I enjoy creating a vision for the team, one that can be applied to a small task or a whole project,” he says. He recalls the help he received from a manager who offered him projects that helped him grow. He draws on those experiences now that he runs a team of his own.

To be successful in Pakistan, Qadir reflects, you have to be an engineer or a doctor. His brother is a doctor; he chose engineering.

“In Pakistan a lot of my education was in English and aligned with Western culture,” he notes. “So it was not a big change for me when I came to the U.S. for my masters. And I wasn’t completely alone; my uncle was here.”

Today he enjoys sightseeing and hiking in the Shenandoah Mountains.

Although he relocated to an entirely different part of the globe and embarked on an originally unplanned career, Qadir’s advice is universal: “Be very committed to what you want to achieve.”


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