C-suite career advice: Julius Cerniauskas, Oxylabs

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? “Understand that nobody can be an expert in every field. Be humble and listen to the experts you hire.”

IDGConnect_csuitecareeradvice_suppliedart_juliuscerniauskasoxylabs_1200x800
Oxylabs

Name: Julius Cerniauskas

Company: Oxylabs

Job Title: CEO

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Julius Černiauskas is the CEO of Oxylabs, a global provider of premium proxies and data scraping solutions that helps businesses to realise their full potential by harnessing the power of data. Cerniauskas’ experience and understanding of the data collection industry have allowed him to implement a new company structure, taking product and service technology to the next level, as well as securing long-term partnerships with dozens of Fortune 500 companies. He regularly speaks on the topics of web scraping, big data, machine learning, technology trends, and business leadership.

What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? Don’t underestimate the power of networking. I think people don’t fully realise how strongly the beliefs and mindsets of our connections can influence us. Surrounding yourself with people who are more accomplished than you not only opens many doors but also serves as a source of inspiration.  

Our social environment has a way of shaping our perspective on life. So, make sure that it serves to broaden your perspective instead of narrowing it, and pushes you to take risks instead of keeping you in a safe harbor.    

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? I remember reading somewhere that a competitive in-house environment encourages faster business growth. In my opinion, the one thing it can encourage is a faster turnover rate. I have seen time and time again how a sharp-elbowed competition between colleagues can harm the entire business ecosystem.  

That is why at Oxylabs we focus on creating positive, team-centric relationships. This work begins at the early stages of the recruitment screening process and ends with our business philosophy - there are no superstars, only super teams.  

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in IT/tech? If you plan on entering IT or any other sector which is defined by innovation, the latest tech, and constant change - prepare for a bumpy ride. My advice, in this case, is this - understand that there are no unsolvable problems.

When faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, don’t rely on internal politics or diplomacy. Instead, step back and look at issues with cold logic and a bit of creativity. If you refuse to give up, the outcomes might surprise you.

Did you always want to work in IT/tech? My career path has taken me to many interesting places, but I have never ventured too far from IT. One of my most memorable experiences was a position in digital marketing. There, I gained a clear understanding of market demands and the clients’ needs.

What was your first job in IT/tech? My first job was at a digital agency which served Google Adwords during a time when nobody understood Adwords. Back then it was really easy to amaze people with this technology. Not many knew that you can serve the ads for the people who are searching for the exact keyword. This concept of ads was way more effective compared to the banners which were considered to be the only option of advertisements that you can get on the internet. 

While I was working as an advertising analyst there, I realised that a digital/IT environment is where I wanted to be. But, I must say that every step of a career path is very important and dependent on each other. Overall, I believe that my first job was a really good starting point which led me to other steps towards the position that I have right now.

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT/tech? The most amusing misconception about IT is that this area is purely analytical, having little to no creativity. That is not the case at all.

I believe that blindly respecting the traditional business practices will get you nowhere in this line of work. Throw the status quo out the window. If you want to survive in this playground, be prepared to use your creativity, improvisation, and take calculated risks.  

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? Understand that nobody can be an expert in every field. Be humble and listen to the experts you hire. For this, you will need to create an environment where challenging the rules is not only acceptable, but welcome, and where decision making is based on logic, rather than diplomacy.

A successful C-level manager possesses the capacity to learn from others. The golden rule here is to know how to identify and use the strengths of every employee.  

What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? I think that if all career goals have been reached then there is something wrong with these goals. I believe that a career path is all about continuous growth and improvement rather than a clearly set destination. However, setting quarterly or annual goals is vital for both life and business.

For example, Oxylabs’ goal for the future is to provide more than just a data collection infrastructure. We aim to become a source of valuable, insightful, and actionable data itself. And yet, we don’t have an end goal. Instead, we are guided by the desire to serve the market needs in the most effective and ethical way possible.  

Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? The lines can get blurred sometimes when work is also a passion project. With that said, I am an advocate of healthy living. I find that jogging in nature helps to unload the work-related stress and boosts my clarity of thinking. It is important for everyone, no matter the title, to make time for exercise and rest. To add, it is important to enjoy your work and have fun with it. Otherwise, perhaps, you’re in the wrong industry or job role.

What, if anything, would you change about the route your career path has taken? No, I wouldn't change a thing. An assumption that a person can know the best path for them is rather arrogant. I view even the most difficult hurdles as valuable lessons, which have shaped my character and have gotten me where I am today.

Which would you recommend: A coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? In the end, it is not the path of learning that is important, but the skill developed. Both a bootcamp and a computer science degree can award a person with great skills, but before choosing your educational route it is essential to understand what your goals are, and how a particular way of studying can help you achieve them.

How important are specific certifications? These days, certifications are bought and sold. That's why skills matter the most. Although I won't argue that a certificate from a well-regarded institution provides a certain edge, the hiring decision will be more influenced by the candidates’ technical skills, creativity, and personality.

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in prospective candidates? Technical skills, critical thinking, and an open mind. 

What would put you off a candidate? A know-it-all attitude and arrogance. They indicate a lack of listening skills and the potential to create an unhealthy work environment.

What are the most common mistakes made by candidates in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided? It is difficult to evaluate every candidate based on the same criteria because each role demands a different set of skills and even personality traits. For example, if we were looking for an account manager, a red flag would be a lack of people skills or inattentiveness. But, if we are hiring a purely technical specialist, the same mistake wouldn’t be that important.  

A bad look for everyone, however, is a lack of motivation. If a candidate doesn’t appear to be excited to join us, he probably won't.  

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills – or a mix of both? Again, it depends on the position. If a person is aiming for C-level, it would be impossible to survive without both. The junior roles are more flexible on this matter.