Name: Robert Coleman
Company: CA Technologies
Job Title: Presales Director
Location: London, UK
What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
“You should think about getting into computers” – my career guidance teacher in secondary school said this to me back in the Eighties. I listened, and followed his advice, and it turns out he was right! I studied hard to finish secondary school with good enough grades to attain a place studying Computer Science at University College Dublin and the rest is history.
What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
I had the opportunity a few years ago to invest in a start-up business not in the tech industry. I listened to lots of advice and decided against investing as it was not in an industry I knew anything about and I perceived the risk to be too great. It turned out to be a tremendously successful venture and although hindsight is a wonderful thing, it taught me a useful lesson in perceived risk vs actual risk. And as it turns out it is a business that now relies heavily on technology for its success so there are a number of lessons I take from that experience.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
Never let yourself believe you are the expert. The tech industry moves so quickly with new technologies emerging at an ever increasing rate that what was leading edge a couple of years ago is now obsolete in many cases. Always be learning and expanding your knowledge through experiences. What’s most important is having a growth mindset and always questioning the status quo.
What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
Pay special attention to building and nurturing your network of business relationships. No one is an island, and success in a senior position can only be achieved when you are surrounded by people who share your vision and enthusiasm and who feel that they too will succeed when you do.
Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
I always make a point of promoting the tech industry to anyone who is looking for general career advice. I’m paying my old career guidance teacher back! But I am especially keen to promote careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects for kids. As someone with young kids, who works in an industry which needs the constant flow of new ideas that youth can bring, I never miss an opportunity to promote initiatives like those we run in CA Technologies for local schools or volunteer organisations like coderdojo.com who are inspiring the next generation of coders in a fun and interesting way.
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