C-suite career advice: Ben Stoneham, autologyx

What tips would the c-suite give to the next generation?

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

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Ben Stoneham

Company: autologyx

Job Title:  CEO & founder

Location: Hampshire, UK


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?

Opportunity is a function of activity. Go to every event you get invited to and talk to the most interesting people you can find! Never turn down an opportunity to learn something new and always challenge yourself by engaging in discussions with people whose views are dramatically different to your own. You’ll be amazed how quickly opportunities arise from events and conversations that seem inconsequential at the time.


What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?“The worst piece of advice definitely has to be the time I was told 'They have the market sewn up, you won't be able to compete'. Never let anyone else determine whether or not you pursue your dream/expand your business. Yes, turn to others for advice and don’t bury your head in the sand/ignore any warning signs. However, if you’ve done your research and genuinely believe there is an opportunity, don’t let yourself be dissuaded by well-meaning advisors.


What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?"If you’re a technical person – which you most likely are if you’re looking to get into the industry – make sure you don’t get too blind-sided by the techy stuff and invest in honing your business acumen alongside your technical skills. The most successful people in tech are those that can use tech to solve problems. If you don’t understand business you won’t be able to spot all the problems to solve so it won’t matter how up to date your tech skills are. In fact, to be the most successful in tech you need to recognise that you won’t be able to stay across all of the tech skills and bring in specialists to help you solve the real-world problems.


What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?

It might seem clichéd or very old school, but if you’re looking to get to the C-suite, put in the work. Nothing comes for free. When I started out I was often the first person into the office and the last person out – I knew what I wanted and I worked for it. I made sure I was on the radar of the people that mattered for the right reasons by not only being visible but by presenting them with solutions to potential problems rather than just questions. A big part of being able to present potential solutions was never turning down an opportunity – having a broad range of knowledge and experience increases the chances of being able to find solutions.


Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?

There are a couple of bits of advice I’ve given out a couple of times that I think apply to everyone:

  1. Do what you enjoy first and foremost – make sure you are passionate about what you do, because no matter what, you won't go to your grave wishing you had spent more time at work.
  2. Ensure you continue to expose yourself to new things – this is the only way to get the experience that will help you in new situations / ensure you’re able to cross-fertilise ideas.