There was a little room in the basement of the house at Centerville, Virginia in the US. Five friends started up an IT service company there and called it called Digital Intelligence System, or DISYS for short. That was way back in 1994.
Today DISYS has 26 offices in eight countries. It has an annual turnover of over 400 million dollars. Engineer Mahfuz Ahmed is the one who took this modest endeavour from the basement and went on to go global.
DISYS carries out the maintenance and updating of software for various organisations, takes care of their IT systems and even provides them with qualified personnel if required. Mahfuz is [presently the chief executive of the company and owns 80% of its shares.
Information technology has made life easier. The big corporations are becoming more and more dependent on IT. The large multinational companies are using new and improved hardware, network systems and complex software to monitor their products, services and employees. It is not always possible to maintain and update these systems and software with in-house personnel. And that is where Mahfuz’s DISYS steps in.
DISYS personnel look after the complex software of various companies and add new features to these as required. DISYS has about 300 clients including high profile companies like Exxon Mobil, the US media corporation Turner Broadcasting, the multinational airline Delta Airlines and UPS. Most of these are listed in the top 500 of the US journal, Fortune. Recently DISYS has added cloud computing to its list of services.
Mahfuz is the second child government officer Mansur Ahmed and teacher Shamim Mansur. He was six went his father died. His grandfather Sadeque Ahmed sent him to St Joseph’s School from where he passed his SSC. He then passed his HSC from Notre Dame College. With interminable strikes and session jams during Ershad’s rule, his grandfather sent him off to George Mason University in the US.
Speaking to Prothom Alo over phone, Mahfuz says, “The education system here is much easier than that of Bangladesh and so I started doing well in my studies. I soon earned my degree in engineering. As a student worker on campus, I learnt that discipline and hard work were the main mantra to success.”
After graduating in 1993, Mahfuz join the software quality control department of Exxon Mobil. Over there is created a computer programme for an automatic control system, making it possible for one person to do the job of five.
It was the next year that Mahfuz formed DISYS. He worked from seven in the morning till four in the afternoon at Mobil. Then up till midnight at the clients’ offices. “For18 months I just saw my wife when she was asleep” says Mahfuz.
After starting up offices in Atlanta, Dallas, Boston and California, his company’s earnings began to grow and so did his clientele list. He spread out to Brazil, Hungary, the Netherlands, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and India. In 2010 Mahfuz bought off his company’s shares from his partners and become the sole proprietor. Later he handed over 20% of the ownership to an investment company.
Due to the company’s average 30% growth rate, the world famous research organisation Ernst and Young awarded Mahfuz Ahmed as the Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013. In 2010 he was placed in the ‘Forty under Forty’ list of Washington’s under-40 successful entrepreneurs. His success story has appeared in Washington Post and several other papers of the US. Last year Mahfuz was elected as the youngest member of George Mason University’s Alumni Trustee Board.
Mahfuz lives with his wife Sayma Ahmed, two daughters Sanji and Anushka, and son Arez. Mahfuz’s mother is happy at his success. She proudly tells Prothom Alo, “Mahfuz was very dutiful, hardworking and enterprising. He would like to do his work himself and is still like that.”
Mahfuz in interested in opening up an office of DISYS in Bangladesh. He is trying to open up a training centre for the purpose.