When fate stepped in the way of Fady Sleimans dream of becoming a pilot, it opened up an entirely new road one that would eventually bring him to the position of corporate CIO for the Middle East and Africa at General Electric.
My passion is flying. When I was 17, my father gave me an ultimatum: I could either buy a car or I could do flying. I chose the flying, and I got myself the car later.
These hardly sound like the words of someone who didnt actually end up becoming a pilot. Judging by the way in which Fady Sleiman, now General Electrics corporate CIO for the Middle East and North Africa, speaks about his early love for flying, its difficult to believe that his career took him anywhere near IT. Its a bit like getting to meet Tom Cruises character in Top Gun only to find out that, since the film was made, hes become an accountant.
And yet, by a strange series of coincidences, it was Sleimans passion for flying that set him on the path to becoming the regional CIO for one of the worlds biggest companies. Whats more, now that hes made it to the top IT job at GE, hes glad that his life turned out the way it did he calls the direction change a blessing in disguise.
So how did everything get shaken up from the original plan? Well, Sleiman certainly was on track to becoming a pilot having taken a couple of months off for lessons in the United States as a 17-year-old, he could fly a small aircraft before he could drive a car. After returning to London, where he grew up with his Lebanese parents, he did plenty more training, earning a basic commercial pilot licence.
I flew old-age pensioners all around Europe Italy, Amsterdam, all those places, Sleiman says. It was just paying my way through university and things like that.
At university in Nottingham, United Kingdom, Sleiman took computer studies, and specialised in information management. Aside from the aviation, Sleiman was always interested in the technology world and plus, he says, to take his flying career to the next level, Sleiman would have had to focus on either computers or literature, so computer studies was the clear choice.
Following university, Sleiman got himself onto the British Airways pilot scheme, which accepts just 25 pilots every year. Indeed, his childhood dream was quickly becoming a reality, and he was set to start on September 15, 2001.
However, the US terror attacks of September 11, 2001, meant that pretty much every airline in the world would have to rethink its strategy. And unfortunately, British Airways was forced to decline Sleiman a place on its pilot scheme at the last minute.
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