Christian Rasmussen, CEO and Executive Director of Beyon Connect highlights the digital impact on quality of life, the milestones of the company, and enriching local talent with global expertise in this interview.
What is your vision for Beyon Connect?
When we started Beyon Connect, it was clear that we were creating something that would work in the region. We aimed to bring in standards and best practices from around the world to digitise societies, governments, and businesses. The scope, however, is much broader than we imagined. These digital solutions are sought after beyond the region. Their purpose is to uplift society; for instance, the OneID product is a national digital identity tool which helps government, banks, and other authorities communicate with citizens, no matter where they’re located within a territory.
The vision is to make these technologies accessible to everyone so that no one is left behind due to complexity or technological barriers.
What are some of the major milestones Beyon Connect has achieved?
Since Beyon Connect got off the ground, we’ve aimed big and strategic, with Bahrain spotlighting our products. At the same time, there was a growing demand for products around the world Our first real partnership kicked off over a year ago with the Egypt Post and Ministry of ICT, putting all our offerings in Egypt first, then expanding to sub-Saharan Africa. As of now, we’ve got six African countries ready to leap into our platform, reaching over a billion people.
Earlier this year we teamed up with partners in Singapore and New Zealand. This move expands our reach to seven countries, reaching 700 million people. We’re set to launch our services in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau.
One of our recent successes is with OneID in Bahrain, which is set to replace eKey next year. We’re excited about our collaboration with the government here, it’s a great testing ground for us. By bringing in our services, we can lift people to a higher quality of life, irrespective of the demographics.
What are some of the challenges you face as a company?
Working with governments can be a long game, with deals taking over a year to finalise. There’s a lot of pressure to meet high expectations, deliver quality, and ensure products mature and become viable.
While there are strong re-education programs with Tamkeen, BIBF, EDB, and others, and we’re working closely with them to attract the right talent, it’s also important to strike a balance by bringing in experienced talent from abroad. This way, we can uplift local talent and bring them up to speed.
As the country focuses on “Bahrainisation” and increasing the percentage of Bahrainis in jobs, we need to find the right pace and blend of talent. Our great opportunity lies in finding the right local talent and integrating it with international expertise to make a strong impact on the global stage.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
The proof is in the pudding and that’s especially true while working with governments to create societal solutions. It’s not about resting on our laurels, but about demonstrating that we can perform in challenging territories. This often leads to new opportunities, as the sector is always on the lookout for new and proven technologies.
Take Bahrain’s eKey, for instance. It has been a pioneering national ID solution in the region. However, it is outdated and vulnerable to security issues. This is a clear example of a government that had the courage to innovate and develop with the private sector but, is now facing the challenge of transitioning to a new solution. This is where a beyond-the-curve technology makes a real difference.
What according to you are the key qualities or skills that every leader should possess in order to thrive?
Understanding and respecting different cultures, promoting equal opportunities and rights, empowering teams, building trust, and effective communication are all essential factors in our work. Sometimes, that means making tough calls, like saying no or letting team members go. Other times, we realise we’ve made a wrong decision and need to pivot. Such experiences, while painful, are valuable lessons for the future. Being constantly alert and juggling multiple responsibilities is part of being a leader. If you’re too comfortable, you risk slowing down and not evolving.
Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you?
“Fear not this pain because someday it will make you stronger.”