As Yousef A. Al Ulyan steps down after 37 years, he recounts a career built on ‘can do’
Former Information Technology senior vice president offers three pieces of advice — take control of your career, keep focused on the mainstream of your career, and trust the people you work for and with.
When you’ve worked for Aramco for 37 years, it can be hard to decide what is your proudest moment. But for Yousef A. Al Ulyan — who recently retired as the senior vice president of Information Technology (IT) — the answer comes easily.
On Aug. 15, 2012, Al Ulyan was a newly appointed general manager of the EXPEC Computer Center and acting executive director of IT, when the company found itself under a massive cyberattack. The incident occurred just a half hour before the beginning of the Ramadan holiday break. Most people had already left work. But within an hour, Al Ulyan had more than 100 volunteers in the conference room, where he and the company’s top IT experts ultimately helped bring the company networks back up.
“It was with pride that I saw the speed of those people who responded to the incident,” Al Ulyan recalled. “It shows the unlimited support of our team, and the authority given to me by the top corporate executives to get the work done.
No matter what you do to prepare, there will always be things you don’t anticipate. But if you have a dedicated team, you can do anything.
— Yousef A. Al Ulyan
Thinking back to the accomplishments he has achieved over the years — from modernizing the company’s IT infrastructure and supporting the company’s digitalization program — Al Ulyan is quick to give credit to the team members who worked with him along the way. Al Ulyan demanded much from his team, he said, but he also gave them authority and respect to come up with solutions and get the job done.
He also credits his colleagues and subordinates at the EXPEC Computer Center for expanding his knowledge about the company’s core business: oil and gas.
“During my three-year assignment, I feel like I became a junior petroleum engineer more than a computer expert,” he said. “Those years of experience gave me a chance to jump out of my comfort zone.”
Words of advice
As the company attracts a younger workforce and offers opportunities for advancement and meaningful work, Al Ulyan suggests a few tips for a long and productive career.
The first step is to take control of your career.
“This doesn’t mean fighting with your superior or your colleagues,” Al Ulyan said. “But as you grow in the company, it’s important to develop your career, and not just show your ability to advance. If you show you can get your work done, you will get a chance.”
Life will present many challenges along the way — a health emergency, or personal issues. But Al Ulyan recommends that you keep your mind focused on the mainstream of your career, the positive points along the way, and not on the negatives.
Finally, Al Ulyan said: “Trust the people you work for and work with. No one wants to fail you. Believe in your supervisor, believe in your manager. Know that they are truly doing the best that they can for you.” Ultimately, those who succeed are team players, Al Ulyan said.
You may be brilliant, but you are not going to get very far if you don’t give respect to the other players on the team.
— Yousef A. Al Ulyan
Retirement will give Al Ulyan more time with his family, and time for riding horses at his farm. But Al Ulyan says that he will remain engaged with technology through his appointment to the board of directors of the government’s Communications, Space, and Technology Commission.
Caption for top photo: Yousef A. Al Ulyan, center, is joined by Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser and executive vice president of Technical Services Ahmad A. Al-Sa'adi.