C-suite career advice: Dux Raymond Sy, AvePoint

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT/tech? “One common misconception is that you have to be technical, or you have to be a coder.”

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What would put you off a candidate? What would put me off is not doing enough homework, not only about the company that they’re applying for but also for the industry. For example, if someone were applying to Honda it would be great to know all about Honda, but you also better know who Elon Musk is or about the latest battery technology. It doesn’t matter what position you are applying for, connect it to the bigger picture.

What are the most common mistakes made by candidates in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided? The first mistake is not being authentic. I always look up whoever I talk to, so I can tell. People often ask if they should have separate social media accounts, one personal and one professional. I tell them that we have one life, there’s no such thing as the Twitter version of Dux or the LinkedIn version of Dux. If you’re purposefully trying to put a wall between these things then you’re hiding something. You don’t have to share every detail, but there’s no such thing as work life or personal life. There’s one life and if you’re on the internet you’re an open book. 

The second is a lack of preparation, show me you did your homework. The final mistake is not being on time. If you’re on time, then you’re late. You’ve got to arrive five minutes before, especially for an interview.

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills – or a mix of both? I can easily say it’s best to combine both. Having the technical skills to position yourself to be able to do the work and having the communication and relationship building skills will help you grow and project your career.

For example, one time I was the keynote speaker at a SharePoint event and had to talk about how to connect SharePoint to other systems. I wanted to highlight the idea of a mash-up so I came in wearing a kilt and beat-boxing to Deadmau5.

I try to draw the line before getting too cheesy, but I want to surprise people and engage them in a way they don’t expect. I’m all about “edutainment,” or entertaining education. The stunt also revealed my personality, highlighting my authenticity. Authenticity is what really sets people apart. Every other tech speaker is wearing a button-up shirt, tie, and talking geek, but I was the complete opposite. I like to have fun and I’ve found people learn better when they’re engaged. This is why having a combination of business and technical skills is so important.

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