C-suite career advice: Wieland Alge, Barracuda Networks

We ask industry leading C-suite professionals for their expert career advice...

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Wieland Alge

 Company: Barracuda Networks

 Job Title: General Manager, EMEA

 Location: Innsbruck, Austria


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
Career follows success and success comes from customers. As long as you focus on the actual drivers of your success, your career is only a question of detail and a bit of luck.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
Copy and Paste. One of our inexperienced venture capitalists once insisted to just follow the go-to-market strategy of one of his other portfolio companies. Back then, I did not have the energy and self-confidence to push back and it almost led to the bankruptcy of our business and eventually cost us more than a year of our first-mover advantage.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
Tech leadership is all about being a team player. The problem is that almost everyone in tech is convinced that they are natural-born team player and I can’t remember any CV that did not state team playing as strength.

What’s crazy is that in our education systems, you actually get trained to not be a team player. Being a team player means helping others and letting others help you. Schools and universities more often than not call that “cheating” and it takes a lot of mentoring and energy to reframe this utterly counter-productive training.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
IT is unfortunately a difficult place to get to a c-level position. In many cases, it seems that a very important ingredient is luck – right place, right time. If in doubt, start your own company from scratch.

That said, if you’re really looking towards that c-level position, remember that once there, you cannot fix anything yourself anymore. So, it’s essential to choose your management team wisely and make sure there are people who dare to question your decisions and challenge your opinions. If you have a critical mass of loyalists, you are doomed to fail.

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
I once convinced an employee to leave my company to pursue his career somewhere else. I knew that he could become a star, but we were just too small at that point to give him the opportunity to shine. It was not easy for me to fill the gap he left, but for him it was the best thing to do.