From ‘the fixer’ to a cross-cultural leader
An engineer by training, Anis Mungapen soon found himself veering off the set career path typically followed by civil engineers. After working as a project engineer in Israel, he moved to the United States in 2009, at the height of the global recession. In this uncertain economic and employment landscape, he reimagined himself more times than he can count. He started several granite companies, and fixed and sold second-hand cars acquired at auctions, before joining automotive manufacturer Magna. He also had a short stint in law as a litigation clerk before landing on his new niche with home security firm Alarm.com.
His ability to adapt to, and strategize within, different industries and roles earned him the reputation, for better or worse, of being ‘the fixer’.
“When other people couldn’t solve a problem, it would end up on my desk to get it done,” shares Mungapen. Encouraged by his own desire to pivot from being a fixer to a leader, Mungapen decided to enroll in an executive MBA program.
The IMD course appealed to Mungapen in part because he knew the professors he would be learning from were still engaged and working within industry. A further draw was the knowledge that many of the faculty have lived and failed at the very concepts they are teaching and would understand the daily challenges he could encounter in his role.
Mungapen was also attracted by the program’s diversity, in particular the feeling that this expanded past cultural backgrounds and ethnicity to geographic locations, since many international students in the program were based in their home countries.
An international perspective
Born in Mauritius, Mungapen spent his childhood moving across Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Burundi, and Madagascar. He also spent time in the Ivory Coast and Israel prior to starting university in France. He believes this nomadic experience may have shaped his passion for diversity and working across different cultural landscapes.
In his previous role as Director of Global Field Operations at Alarm.com, he travelled on business to Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, the US, and various European cities during the 18 months leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Traversing so many geographical boundaries has helped him develop a strong cultural sensitivity – something he believes is an asset in his leadership because it enables him to connect with diverse individuals and solve unique business challenges.
Reflecting on the impact of the EMBA program, Mungapen shares that IMD further expanded his global network and reaffirmed the importance of cultural awareness for him. In addition, it gave him a framework that helped him grasp the lessons and thought processes behind his failures and successes.
In his current role as Chief Operating Officer of Swiss security technology company Sitasys AG, Mungapen wears several hats. His focus, however, is on the customer success team and bridging the gap between development and operations, particularly for the company’s innovative tool to provide cloud-based alarm management and security automation solutions. “Sitasys turns the Security Operation Centers into a business intelligence hub to help operators work more effectively without the risks of on-premise software and hardware.”
Mungapen is no newcomer to the growth of digitization in the security systems industry. He previously spent ten years at Alarm.com, which he joined pre-IPO in 2012. “Alarm.com is known as a disruptor within the home security industry,” explains Mungapen. Alarm.com’s cloud-based platform and remote monitoring technology protects home users and businesses while giving them control over the security of their properties from afar.
When asked what advice he would pass on to young people establishing their careers, Mungapen recommends making friends along the way. “It’s a dynamic world and you’re not the only one going up the ladder,” he adds. He emphasizes that helping others while building your own network is important as one day you too may find yourself in need of reaching out to your network. For example, when Mungapen needed advice on a deal with a Japanese company, he reached out to a IMD classmate based in Japan to learn more about Japanese culture and context.
Another constant thread throughout his career has been striving to do his best in whatever role he found himself.
“When I applied for the job at Magna, nothing on my resume said I would be a good quality or industrial engineer. I had no manufacturing experience and had never put my foot in a manufacturing plant,” shares Mungapen. What set him apart? He was the one who showed up. He then fully committed to the opportunity.
“It wasn’t glorifying work but within two weeks Magna offered to bring me on full time,” he adds. In less than a year, he was offered management training.
What becomes clear as he relates the story of his career so far is that Mungapen chooses to focus on doing well no matter the role and embracing opportunities to pivot when they arise.
“As long as I contribute meaningfully, I feel that I am doing well,” he says.
To that end, Mungapen reports that even if his aim is to move past being merely “the fixer” to be a multi-cultural leader, certainly solving problems and adapting to change will remain key features of his leadership style.