Human Resources

C-suite career advice: Richard Walton, Avirtual

Richard Walton

 Company: Avirtual

 Job Title: Founder / CEO

 Location: Exeter, UK / Cape Town, South Africa


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
Over the years, I have received a lot of career advice and quite honestly, continue to do so, so it’s hard to pick one. In fact, these days I am a lot more open to advice and actively go looking for it so I probably get given even more. If I had to choose it would be - hire fewer people and pay them more. A really good person will outperform an average person three times over – quality wins over quantity every time.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
Hands down the worst piece of advice I’ve ever had was to make a business plan. I was told this at university and I really think they are the biggest waste of time. I have founded more than ten companies and within three months of launch, every single one has changed beyond recognition. When starting a business, you have no idea what’s going to happen, so it’s best just to get on with it and then put a plan together along the way!

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
Although we are talking about the tech industry, any business you build is reliant on the people you employ. You need all types of people to run a successful company. It’s just like a football team - you can’t have a whole team of offensive players. If you do, who will be defending or scoring a goal? Make sure you get a great mix early on. As tempting as it is to recruit someone who has a similar skill set to you, resist the urge - hire out of your comfort zone.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
Take your time. You absorb the knowledge you need to both attain and sustain a c-suite position while you’re working your way up. If you keep looking ahead, you won’t learn the lessons you need to do a good job once you’re there.

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
I am a big fan and advocate of networking and the power of strong relationships based on trust and friendship. I am proud to see my teams take these values on board and replicate them within my businesses as a critical and key part of their day-to-day roles.


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