C-suite career advice: David Kaganovsky, Maxus

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

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David Kaganovsky           

Company: Maxus

Job Title: CIO

Location: New York, NY


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
Surround yourself with good people and do everything you can to ensure their success. It sounds a bit altruistic but in fact it was meant to tell me to ensure that a good team around me are successful.  Help make people successful at their goals and with their challenges no matter for who they work.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
The worst advice I have ever gotten has been “don’t get involved, not your problem”. That is not to say that one should always insert themselves into every challenge but ignoring a problem when you can contribute to a solution is not a plan.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
Anyone starting in the tech industry today should begin to immediately plan for their obsolescence.  All skills and knowledge has a half-life and that is even more true for technology professionals. Your skills and knowledge will fade in value if you don’t constantly change, adjust, learn and seek new challenges. So, have a plan for your career trajectory. Will you follow a technical path or a management one? Work nearly each day to make sure you acquire the skills and experience necessary to achieve that plan and constantly re-evaluate it to ensure that you made the right choice!
I’ll give a second piece of advice, build a small network of mentors and advisers. People you can turn to who have no vested interest in helping you. These sounding boards are critical and I turn to my advisers whenever faced with a new or particularly challenging problem.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
I have always thought that a career is like surfing.  You need the right equipment (muscles and board) and you need the right skills (ability to balance).  Your greatness will come from a combination of practice and inherent capabilities. 
But all of that won’t get you surfing without two additional elements. First, the right wave. That does not mean simply being lucky, although that is part of it, but you also need to put yourself in the right location. Second, have the right resources to help you select the right location in order to notice the wave coming. This means gathering knowledge and building a network so that when the right wave comes along, you can see it and take advantage.  

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
I had lunch recently with a good friend and old colleague who was admitted to the partnership of a very large professional services team. He thanked me for all my advice over the years but reminded me about one thing I told him early in our relationship. The culture of consulting in those days was to travel Monday-Thursday and work from home on Fridays. 
He reminded me that early in our relationships, when we first met and had a formal coaching relationship, I advised him not to work from home unless it is critical. I advised him and many others to always come into the office, build relationships, talk to people about what you do and about your clients. I think this advice can be extended beyond just consulting. Relationships, trust, your brand, skills; all of these things must be something we focus on each day and doing them remotely is more difficult.