C-suite career advice: Michael Garrett, Omada

How important are specific certifications? “Provided they are of high quality and good recognition then they are really helpful both for the individual to demonstrate their level of competence but also for an employer to know...”


Name: Michael Garrett

Company: Omada

Job Title: Chief Executive Officer

Location: Copenhagen

Michael Garrett has extensive software and services experience and prior to joining Omada was the CEO for Workshare, a global provider of secure enterprise file sharing and collaboration applications, as well as spending 15 years at Hewlett Packard where he latterly led the Global Software Services Division.

What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? Problems do not get better with age.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? To be honest I think all advice has some value, it is all about the context and what you take from it, or not.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in IT/tech? Choose areas you are interested in and do the things you enjoy the most and the paths will open up as you go.

Did you always want to work in IT/tech? No, I wanted to be a Royal Navy Pilot but in my mid-teens I became more interested in technology and from this point on I was focused on a career in IT.

What was your first job in IT/tech? I worked for a US printer manufacturer in the technical support department.

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT/tech? That it is only for nerds, it isn’t, tech is getting cool these days.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? Get a broad set of experiences and put yourself in difficult places and figure out how to solve them.

What are your career ambitions, and have you reached them yet? I like fixing things, building things, and helping create great teams. If I am doing that then my ambitions are being met.

Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? I do not see it as a trade off from one to the other. A big part of people’s lives is their work, so it is great when you enjoy what you do. Life and work are an “and” not an “or” for me.

What, if anything, would you change about the route your career path has taken? I probably would not change anything. I have learned from every element, both good and bad. The biggest learnings have been in the toughest roles so I would not change this.

Which would you recommend: A coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? A computer science degree but only because it is broader than just coding. That said I think there are alternatives to degrees such as apprenticeships which can get people into technology from a younger age and learn more through vocation than an academic track.

How important are specific certifications? Provided they are of high quality and good recognition then they are really helpful both for the individual to demonstrate their level of competence but also for an employer to know the skills they are hiring.

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in prospective candidates?  Culture fit – it is easy to hire skills and experience, but this can only be capitalised if they fit the culture.

Passion and Energy- I like to see real passion, energy, and a desire to be part of something.

Diversity – I like people that bring something different, be that background, opinion, culture or perspective.

What would put you off a candidate? A lack of energy.

What are the most common mistakes made by candidates in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided? A lack of preparation and not knowing why they want the job they are being interviewed for.

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills – or a mix of both?  I think it totally depends on the role.