C-suite career advice: Matt Reading, NICE

"Certainly consider [an MBA] as a possible path and weigh the pros and cons, but don’t blindly embark on an MBA just because it’s “the thing to do”."

Name: Matt Reading

Company: NICE

Job Title: VP, Customer Journey Solutions

Location: Hoboken, NJ


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? Focus, focus, focus. To be as effective as possible, you need to ruthlessly prioritize you and your teams’ efforts. This is equally applicable at the day-to-day level as it is at the strategic. Whether you are planning activities for the next year or the next week, pick the 3-5 most important outcomes and focus relentlessly on what you need to do to achieve those. Anything else is a distraction from what you’re trying to achieve.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? I don’t know about the “worst”, but one piece of advice that is regularly dished out (and something I heard a lot early in my career) was the importance of getting an MBA. While for many people, an MBA may help to accelerate their career, I’ve never felt my lack of an MBA to be an impediment to my development and growth. So, certainly consider this as a possible path and weigh the pros and cons, but don’t blindly embark on an MBA just because it’s “the thing to do”.  

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?

The most valuable and rare skill in the technology world is the ability to speak and think credibly from both a technical and business point of view. The tech industry is awash with technical geniuses and marketing savants, but those whose knowledge and experience can span across the full spectrum of the industry are few and far between. As you’re starting out, begin in the domain that you’re most comfortable in, but stretch yourself to understand the other aspects of the business.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? Don’t be satisfied with being the best at your specific job/role. That’s clearly an important starting point, but it’s not generally enough for you to progress rapidly through an organization. To do that, you need to consistently reach beyond your formal job description, put on different hats and be the kind of team player who’s eager to take on new responsibilities that will help push the business forward. That mindset helps get you noticed by important stakeholders in the organization, meaning you’ll be top of mind as promotion opportunities come up.

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored? I’ve always found it tremendously satisfying to give talented people the opportunity to grow and develop their capabilities. That can take many forms, as small as just giving them the opportunity to work on a new project that gives them the chance to develop new skills, or a formal change to a different or more senior role. Be creative and opportunistic in how you enable talented people on your team to grow.