C-suite career advice: Pascal Gauvrit, Eptica

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


Name: Pascal Gauvrit

Company: Eptica

Job Title: CTO

Location: Paris, France


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
This was given to me by someone I worked with when I was in the UK. He told me to always do what you like and enjoy, rather than being sidetracked into other things. I’ve always tried to keep that in mind and apply it to my career – it is why I’ve stayed in IT as I’ve been into computers from an early age. It means that even as a CTO I always keep a finger in the technical pie, as it is something I really like doing.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
That you should choose your next role based on money or because it “will look good on your CV.” I really believe you should follow your gut instinct when it comes to career moves. When I joined Eptica I had different job offers, and I took my current role as I agreed with the values of the company and its plans for the future. You’ll only be happy in work if you are doing something you like – ultimately money won’t fill the gap.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
Always be curious and make sure you are always learning new things. Tech is so fast moving that you need to make sure you are keeping up to date, are aware of developments and are reading about coming trends, whether that is artificial intelligence or Bitcoin. Even if it doesn’t seem that they are relevant to your job now, disruption can happen very quickly.
You also need to decide what sort of role you want. Some people want to be experts, working in the same area for their whole career, building up knowledge as they go. Others, like myself, move around between technologies a lot more, changing industry and specialism, essentially becoming tech agnostic, developing a broad range of skills.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
While there’s a lot you can learn about management through business training, to be successful (and happy) you need to be good at dealing with people and politics. You have to be interested in the whole business – if you just want to focus on tech, stay in technical roles. But build up your skills by getting involved in wider business projects, such as a product launch, that give you exposure to areas such as marketing or sales.
You need a grasp of all roles and also experience to join the c-suite. Don’t try and get there too quickly as there are no shortcuts to learning on the job, making mistakes and improving. I think you need to have worked for at least 5 years before thinking of moving to a CTO role, for example.

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
I managed a very good technical developer and promoted him to a management position. While he wanted to do it, at the beginning he was sure he couldn’t cope with the extra responsibility. I knew he could, and helped him with mentoring, sending him on management training and giving him advice about broadening his experience by working outside France. The result was that he thrived and has moved on in management, via a role in New Zealand where he improved his English.
I’m equally proud of saying no to another developer who wanted to apply to be a manager. I simply didn’t think he’d be happy doing it or had the personality to manage a team. He accepted this and is now well on the way to becoming an expert in his field. It all comes back to my first point – always keep doing what you like, rather than what you feel you ought to do.