Human Resources

C-suite career advice: Andy Heather, Centrify

Andy Heather

 Company: Centrify

 Job Title: VP and General Manager EMEA

 Location: UK


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
I have been unbelievably fortunate in my career to have worked with some truly great individuals who have provided mentoring and guidance: Scott McNealy telling me as a young sales rep to never let him step out of the elevator before me (he wouldn’t know which way to turn); Mark Cranny whose understanding of why people buy and how to build a process around that, I have shared in every company and which has become the foundation on which many  people have built successful careers in sales, and finally Tom Mendoza, the most inspirational of leaders, speakers and motivators. So to pick one is tough, but when I look for the single piece of advice that has had the biggest single impact and changed both my personal and professional life it is; Set yourself 90-day goals, both personal and professional, write them down and go back and honestly review how you have done.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
How long have you got? I really heard someone say this recently “If you expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair, you’re fooling yourself. That’s like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn’t eat him”. Any advice that promotes the confrontational approach and the belief that someone else has to lose so you can ‘win’ in my experience completely misses the point. We live in a truly interconnected world and in trying to solve any problem, and collaboration is key.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
In the future you will work with customers and clients you have not yet met, talking about products and solutions that don’t yet exist, working alongside colleagues that you do not yet know, in other words expect change and embrace it when it comes.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
Leadership is understanding that people don’t care what you know. Rather, they want to know that you care. Only then they will follow, not because you have a title that forces them to follow but because they do not want to let you down.

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
I once worked with a young, fairly inexperienced sales guy who was struggling. We would sit down and talk about how he was approaching the task - was he working hard enough? Calling the right people? Understanding the products? Certainly, but no matter how he applied himself he could never quite meet the goals and targets set for him. One day we sat and talked not about what he was doing but what he had done before he worked in sales. He told me about his early life and how when he left school he would help family and friends set up their home computer systems and solve their problems just because he loved to understand how things worked and loved to fix the problems.
So I suggested a change, why not take a break from sales, stay with the company move into a junior technical role and we would work together on a training and development plan. Today this guy is the head of technical services at a leading Cyber security company. Sometimes you need to find the thing that interests you the most, and that you really enjoy doing, and follow that path. Do what you love and the financial and personal rewards will follow.


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