C-suite career advice: Mihir Shah, StorCentric

What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? "For me, once I reach a goal, I always set a new one. I strongly believe in having a growth mindset and never having a final destination."

Name: Mihir Shah

Company: StorCentric (parent company of Nexsan, Drobo, Retrospect and Vexata)

Job Title: Chief Executive Officer

Location: Thousand Oaks, California, US

Mihir Shah is the CEO of StorCentric, parent company of Nexsan and Drobo. He was previously the CEO of Drobo from 2015 until the company's acquisition in August 2018, when he expanded his role to oversee StorCentric. Mihir has over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, having worked for companies including IBM and Brocade.

What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? It takes less than a minute to ruin your reputation and years to earn it back, so lead with honesty, humility, and transparency.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? Nothing comes to mind - I've only ever received good advice!

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in IT? Always focus on solving customer problems. Everything else will take care of itself.

Did you always want to work in IT? I was always fascinated by technology, and my career started in financial services with a focus on the IT sector. Technology is always changing rapidly and I enjoy learning about new tech that will transform the way we live.

What was your first job in IT? While my first ever job was in financial services, I moved onto IBM in corporate development, and have spent most of my career since at similar technology companies.

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT? One of the biggest ones is that you have to be a "coder" to be successful in IT.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? Make your goal to be in the C-Suite, and realise that there is not always a straight line to that destination. You have to enjoy the journey to get there, because it will likely be very different from your expectations.

What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? For me, once I reach a goal, I always set a new one. I strongly believe in having a growth mindset and never having a final destination. 

Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? I try very hard to, but the honest answer is no. Thankfully, I have a very supportive family and technology like Facetime has helped tremendously in keeping me connected with them.

What, if anything, would you change about the route your career path has taken? My view is that the past is the past and you can't change it. You should learn from every step both forward and backward, and keep charging ahead. I have failed a lot in my career and attribute all my successes to such failures.

Which would you recommend: A coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? I have neither, but if I were to pick it would be a computer science degree.

How important are specific certifications? It depends on the role - some jobs require you have them for compliance reasons, so you may be required to obtain them. They also may be required to help get your foot in the door of a potential employer, so always worth looking into.

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in prospective candidates? Ability to learn new things, flexibility, and a can-do attitude

What would put you off a candidate? Lack of preparation for an interview.

What are the most common mistakes made by candidates in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided? As mentioned, being unprepared is one of the biggest mistakes a candidate can make, and it is easy to tell when this is the case. To avoid this, candidates should ensure they spend time researching the company and the role, and go into each interview confident and determined.

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills - or a mix of both? I would prioritise listening skills over both, and then business skills then technical skills in that order.