C-suite career advice: Peter Olive, Vortex 6

How important are specific certifications? "If you're technical or in finance - very.

Name: Peter Olive

Company: Vortex 6

Job Title: CEO and Founder

Location: Bracknell, UK

Peter Olive is the founder and CEO of Vortex 6, a company that specialises in business enablement services in the networking and IT industry. Over the course of 35 years, Peter has founded several companies in the technology industry across both Europe and Australia. Throughout his career Peter has worked closely with channel partners for many major IT vendors and as a result understands how complicated relationships with these vendors can be, in particular how difficult they are to manage. This is especially true today when the channel is operating in such a highly competitive and tough environment.

What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? Know what you're getting into and make sure it's right for you, don't necessarily take the first job that comes along.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? Just take a day off, there's no need to tell your boss.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in IT? Make yourself stand out by being different to the masses, work harder, smarter and always be honest, never break trust.

Did you always want to work in IT? No, when I was entering work, we were still securing confidential envelopes with sealing wax and writing with quill pens. IT was science fiction to me.

What was your first job in IT? Selling HR and payroll bureau (now known as cloud) systems to major corporates in Sydney.

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT? That it's easy and you'll make a ton of money before you're 40.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? Firstly, check that it's really what you want to do, it sounds glamorous but the reality can be different. If after all that you still want to get to that level, then get experience in as many areas of the business that you can, knowing how the financials work, being able to sell to and support clients will go a long way to making it happen.

What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? I'm nearer the end of my career than the start, I'm happy with what I've achieved and where I am.

Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? It depends on your perspective. I'm at work in my head 7 days a week because it's my own business and that's the only way you can be if you're going to be a success. I probably shouldn't be doing the hours I am now and therefore I would say my work life balance is not as good as I would like.

What, if anything, would you change about the route your career path has taken? I don't even think about that, I can't change it so it's wasted energy contemplating the answer to that question.

Which would you recommend: A coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? If you're going down a technical career path then either is good, I don't think there's a right or wrong path.

How important are specific certifications? If you're technical or in finance - very. If you're non-technical they carry little weight for me.

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in prospective candidates? In order of importance - Attitude, attitude, attitude.

What would put you off a candidate? Unstable work history, having a sense of expectation without being prepared to work for it, unrealistic expectations, poor spoken English and a lack of energy and positivity.

What are the most common mistakes made by candidates in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided?

My pet topics at the moment:

1. Lack of preparation - how can you decide whether a job or company is right for you if you don't research them. Candidates should be interviewing the employer as well, after all it's their future.

2. 90% of candidates treat the first interview as a discovery meeting, do your research and know what you're walking in to.

3. Lack of clarity about what they want to do.

4. No questions - it demonstrates a lack curiosity about making what could be a life changing decision. Inexplicable why candidates generally don't ask questions. In summary, understand what you want to do and prepare properly so you can make an informed decision should you be fortunate enough to be offered the job.

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills - or a mix of both? Again, it depends on what you want to do. I know great CEO's from both backgrounds, if I had to choose, I'd say a mix of both.