Amer Deeba’s reputation precedes him. Born in Marjaayoun, a small, picturesque town in the South of Lebanon, he is a first-generation immigrant. Naturally, he had to overcome many obstacles that come with being an immigrant. Today, he is the CEO of a company he helped cofound. He is a well-respect senior marking executive in Silicon Valley and has been working in the IT industry since 1993. However, in getting here, Deeba had to tackle discrimination, uncertainty, and exhaustion.
It is quite common to celebrate the successes of people but what’s often missing from the conversation are the obstacles they faced and how they overcame them. In this article we talk about Deeba’s career, and how he tackled one of the most common challenges facing IT professionals, something so common to the industry that it is called ‘tech burnout’.
“Burnout in tech and especially in Silicon Valley is a classic syndrome,” Deeba told Authority Magazine. The IT sector is a fast-moving industry, and this brings its own challenges. Stress and extreme exhaustion have become increasingly commonplace in this sector. While professionals in any field might get burned out, professionals in the IT sector are at a higher risk. The lack of work-life balance has led to 2 in 5 workers being at risk of burnout according to a mental well-being platform.
The reasons for burnout being so common in the tech industry include unfair treatment, prolonged working hours, lack of support, and insufficient rewards. If you are suffering from, or at the risk of burnout, you may be unmotivated, emotionally exhausted, self-doubting, or see a reduction in performance. Burnout can also affect personal relationships.
Deeba, like all others in the tech industry, has had to deal with these lows during many points in his career. However, he has soldiered on. In a career that spans three decades, Deeba has achieved things many only dream about. Dubbed a rare executive by Forbes, he is one of the few IT professionals that have worked as a coder and handled the business side of things. How has he been able to do this?
“In life, my wife gave me the best advice: To be more mindful. With her help and encouragement, I started practicing mindfulness and it’s been very beneficial. 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,” he shared.
Deeba was only 8 years old when civil war broke out in Lebanon. His mother was eventually forced to put him in the trunk of a cab when the war came too close to home. In a display of exceptional resilience, Deeba stayed in Lebanon and completed his education. At the time, his only goal was to reach the US in hopes of a better life. He eventually made it to the country to pursue a master’s degree.
“Having grown up surrounded by civil war, I naturally try to anticipate problems so that I can proactively and quickly address them. But too much of that attitude creates unnecessary anxiety, especially when concerns are unjustified. Anxiety prevents you from appreciating the present moment,” says Deeba.
Trying to anticipate problems and being proactive is something most IT professionals are required to do to succeed in this highly competitive industry. However, as Deeba rightly pointed out, being on the edge always creates unnecessary anxiety. This is why he now tries to approach his work in a balanced way, something that he recommends others to do too.
According to Deeba, another way to avoid burnout is to find a purpose. “Working on something you love and are passionate about helps you to continue the mission and enjoy it along the way. It will also help you avoid burnout and inspire you to take the necessary break to recharge and get re-inspired. I personally like to spend time with my family and my 1-year-old son who puts it all in perspective for me,” he says.
A key takeaway from Deeba’s advice is that one should try and find something, other than work, that inspires them. It could be family or a hobby. We often make everything about work, so much so that it becomes an all-consuming aspect of our lives. Yet this is not good for growth, personal or professional.
These little changes in his life have allowed him to take on bigger challenges and excel personally and professionally. He is the CEO of Normalyze, a platform that is disrupting the cloud data security landscape. He co-founded this company with Ravi Ithal, who is the company’s CTO. The platform has quickly attracted attention from all corners and is the object of Silicon Valley’s praise. Recently, it was selected by Corelight as its primary security platform. This is a big achievement for Deeba and his team because Corelight is a leader in network detection and response technology.
Under Deeba’s leadership, Normalyze is rapidly scaling. The company has already employed more than 25 people that are based in the US and India. It has also filed for 4 out of 40 patent claims.
About: Deeba started his career working for Verity. He later joined Adobe and was responsible for optimizing pdfs so that they could be opened in web browsers. He worked at Qualys for the longest time and played an instrumental role in getting the company it’s initial public offering. After working at Qualys for 17 years, Deeba joined Moogsoft as their Chief Operating Officer. Alongside being the CEO of Normalyze, Deeba also advises CyCognito and Monad Inc, two cybersecurity companies. You can learn more about him at www.amerdeeba.com.