C-suite career advice: Dob Todorov, HeleCloud

Did you always want to work in IT? "I was 9 when I started developing my first programmes in Applesoft Basic on a community centre Apple II. I was hooked pretty much from day one..."

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It would also be fair to say that we expect that candidates will have strengths and weaknesses, and that’s normal. The perfect candidate has a balance of strengths and weaknesses, not just strengths. We hire candidates to leverage their strengths and we compensate for their weaknesses but to do so, we need to get to know them well. Thus, the biggest mistakes a candidate can make is to hide their weaknesses or gaps in their knowledge or experience. It’s best to lay these out clearly, and that’s when we can decide how we can best work together.

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills – or a mix of both? Ideally, one would have both. However, we’ve all got 24 hours a day, and there are no compression algorithms for skills or experience – although there are optimal and suboptimal paths for acquiring them. Therefore, we often need to choose whether we invest time and effort in acquiring and developing technical or business skills. Those that are interested in deep technology aspects will be better suited to the technical domains of IT and should therefore focus on technical excellence and results. For those that are more business inclined, I’d say the optimal path starts in the technology space and gradually shifts towards business: this is because business people benefit immensely from technical skills, even if they are not as deep or up-to-date. Technical skills allow them to be competent, confident, factual and critical. 

It is possible but very unusual to have business people from other industries to enter IT without relevant technical knowledge. This is because in my experience in the fast-paced world of IT, credibility is often measured through the level of technical knowledge over that of business knowledge and skills. 

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