EIT ICT Labs is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Chahab Nastar as the new CSO of the EIT ICT Labs KIC. Nastar starts on April 1.
In his latest position as Vice President of Advanced Development, Chahab has been managing next-generation analytics software development at SAP. Previously, he was the cofounder and CEO of computer vision software maker LTU technologies, successfully acquired by Jastec Corporation, a listed company based in Tokyo. Chahab started his career as the head of a research group on image indexing at INRIA. He graduated from Ecole des Ponts ParisTech and is a former fellow of the MIT Media Lab.
Your latest position was Vice President, Advanced Development at SAP – how do you think this will contribute to your job as CSO?
During my tenure at SAP, the company went through drastic changes, both internally and in terms of product offering. The software market is so competitive and disruptive that even large, established companies need to reinvent themselves. That would be my take-away - we live in times in which we absolutely need to lead change. At EIT ICT Labs, we will succeed in our mission if we are agile, if we simplify everything that we do, and if we bet on grand challenges.
You were the co-founder and CEO of LTU Technologies - a start-up company with a successful exit. What did you learn during this time and how will it benefit your job as CSO?
I learned that being an entrepreneur is both very exciting - you need to have vision and persistence - and very stressful - failure is always around the corner. The Society as a whole needs to support entrepreneurs and that is what we do at EIT ICT Labs. Tech start-ups are the key link between public research and larger corporations, especially in information technology, where large companies will generally adopt technologies that are market-proven, therefore tech start-ups. I am also very keen on seeing more European start-ups grow and eventually become independent large corporations. We currently have too few of them.
Describe your new role as at the CSO of the EIT ICT Labs?
To begin with, I want to listen to my hierarchy, colleagues and ecosystem: the executive steering board, the management committee, the action line leaders, the partners. They all need to educate me on their perspective. Then, as the CSO, I need to lead our strategy. What does that mean? It means that we need a simple vision, mission, and value proposition for our ecosystem - and more importantly, a pragmatic way to make that succeed. It is a collective work with the management committee, under the leadership of our CEO. Operationally speaking, I will lead any future update to the Strategic Innovation Agenda (but not right now as the latest version just came out); take part on the call for proposals, submissions review and KPI monitoring; work with the Education, Business and Research directors on catalysts; as well as with the same directors, plus node directors and action line leaders on impact evaluation. I will also need to be an evangelist on our strategic priorities.
What do you see as the opportunities and strength of EIT ICT Labs?
It is a fantastic network with a beautiful challenge - make Europe succeed in information and communication technologies by betting in education, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We are well organized and enjoy several past successes. We are now accelerating in order to have a larger impact on the economy and the society. I am really humbled to be part of this great adventure.
What are the challenges?
The main challenge in almost any organization is the status quo. We need to question the status quo on a daily basis and ask ourselves repeatedly "why are we really doing this? what is the purpose?". Everything else will follow.
What are your favourite things to do in your spare time?
I read a lot, especially about technology, start-ups, innovation. I also love to spend time with my family. And I always enjoy a walk or a hike, and dinner with good friends. But I have to say that strumming on my guitar is one of my favourite things in life! It helps me to relax and to focus.
Photo: Matthias Steffen