Name: Michael Olaye
Job Title: Chief executive officer
Location: London, UK
What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
The first person who hired me said, never allow anyone to put you into a career box. Always be willing to try new things that enhance your existing work life, knowledge and skillset. The changing and evolving nature of technology means that I still have to constantly keep abreast of new technologies.
What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
I was told to maintain a lone wolf mentality. To protect my own investment in a working environment, not to worrying about my fellow colleagues that did not sit in my department even though we worked on the same projects. In fact, we should learn from each other: there’s no place for silos in agencies when you need expertise in so many different digital disciplines. When you let people from outside your area of specialism give you an opinion, you can sometimes get a more evolved way of thinking and outcome to a challenge you might be facing.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
Don’t be afraid to try something new, knowing that it might be a failure. Technology allows a trial and error mindset if planned properly. Try tech internally before showing it to the client, collaborate and if it doesn’t work, throw it away and try again. The investment to build something in tech is a lot lower than other disciplines because languages are all free and the platforms exist already, so we can afford to experiment.
What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
At every level, learn to build a trusting and committed team around you as you climb the work ladder. You can’t be everywhere at all times, so you need people who can deliver what you want and, if not, will be honest and work with you. Find mentors and understand how your role will change at different levels.
Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
Showing a few graduates that they could get to advanced levels in their careers in half the time they thought, and helping them achieve it. I helped one guy straight out of college. He hadn’t worked in advertising or project management or programming. After 18 months, he decided to become a technical project manager – and is now CTO of a start-up in Old Street. Just as I was once told: don’t put yourself or let others put you in a career box.
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