C-suite career advice: Andrey Shklyarov, DataArt

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a C-level position? “Broaden your mind. Look into the areas of business and life that are not directly tied to what you do.”

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DataArt

Name: Andrey Shklyarov

Company: DataArt

Job Title: Chief Compliance Officer

Location: London, UK

Andrey Shklyarov joined DataArt in 2016 as Chief Compliance Officer. Shklyarov has more than 25 years of experience in the IT industry. He began his career as a software developer and has played many roles. He has experience in managing projects, managing programs in the medical device industry, building quality and security management systems, overseeing agile adoption, managing a software delivery centre, and running a corporate compliance program. Shklyarov holds a master’s degree in computer science from the Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics.

What was the most valuable piece of career advice you’ve received? Well, as a half-joke, I can say the best career advice I received was my father’s advice to learn English. On a serious note, many smart and experienced people have shared their experience with me (my father included) and it’s difficult to say what was most valuable.

But I think some of the best advice I got was from one of my former bosses. He told me to “consider changing things around you from time to time.” Sometimes replacing a task tracking tool that doesn’t work for you anymore or canceling a recurring meeting that’s no longer useful can be very helpful, even if the tool was expensive and the meeting is required by process. It’s important to stop running and look around periodically. Even a small change can be inspiring and helpful to your career. I wish I followed this advice more.

What was the worst piece of business advice you’ve received? I received a lot of bad advice in my life too. Half-jokingly again, I think maybe the worst one came from my grandma. I was a teenager and she suggested that I consider a career in the KGB. She thought it would offer a comfortable life. Another pretty bad one comes to mind: a former colleague who suggest that I “forget about a managerial career because introverts don’t make good leaders.”

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in IT/tech? Never stop developing your knowledge and skills.

Did you always want to work in IT/tech? My education and my entire career are tied to IT. So, if I forget my childhood dreams, I would say yes.

What was your first job in IT/tech? It was a job in a scientific research institute. My title was Technician Programmer and that was 31 years ago in a country that no longer exists (USSR).

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT/tech? I think the strangest and most idiotic misconception is that software development is for men. I can see that way of thinking is gradually disappearing, but it’s not entirely vanquished yet. Here’s a fun fact: in 1985 in the USSR (when I was in college), programming was considered a job for women.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a C-level position? Broaden your mind. Look into the areas of business and life that are not directly tied to what you do.

What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? My ambitions at this point are related to broadening my skills and knowledge in the corporate governance domain. And I’m on my way to that.

Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? Well, I’d say it’s at acceptable level now and is definitely better than 15-20 years ago when I was a software developer and project manager. And that is not because my current job is easier, but because I actively worked on improving the balance.

What, if anything, would you change about the route your career path has taken? I consider my career path as an interesting one and I like it overall. The only thing I can think of is that a couple of times in my career, I was afraid of change and spent more time than I should have in some positions.

Which would you recommend: A coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? Between these two options, it’s a computer science degree without a doubt. A coding bootcamp might be the first step, but a computer science degree should follow. A good education is very important. On the other hand, we live in a world where opportunities for remote education, self-education, and gaining knowledge directly from industry leaders are huge. What I’m trying to say here is that a coding bootcamp is far from sufficient for a successful career. As I said, you should educate yourself all the time.

How important are specific certifications? Sometimes they are required to get a specific job and prepare for a certification exam, and sometimes they can help bring order to your knowledge. However, from a practical standpoint I don’t think they are very important. What you do and how you do it are both much more important.

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in prospective candidates? Apart from technical skills, which may differ among technology stacks, I think that good communication skills and an ability to work in a team are very important. Teams are distributed now; many people work from home. Not being a good team player or communicator could have a negative impact on your career. No news here, though. And a sense of ownership should be on the list too. I think it’s a very important thing for people to care deeply about what they do and how they do it.

What would put you off a candidate? A bad CV and not being interested in the job (often these are related).

What are the most common mistakes candidates make in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided? Not asking additional questions when an interviewer’s question is not clear. People are afraid of asking “stupid” questions, but asking questions is totally normal.

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills – or a mix of both? A mix is definitely a better option. Whatever you do, having skills from other areas benefits your career.