Human Resources

C-suite career advice: Rick Orloff, Code42

Rick Orloff

 Company: Code42

 Job Title: CSO

 Location: San Francisco, California


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?

There are many metrics by which success can be measured, and all of the most valuable career advice I have received pertain to achieving success in a particular aspect of business. For instance, delivering intended business results within scope, schedule and budget is hugely important in terms of developing a reputation for reliability. The ability to clearly articulate root problem statements (RPS) can help with this, along with clearly assessing solution options when making an important call on strategy.

In addition maintaining a focus on delivering results, ‘soft skills’ also play an invaluable role in achieving success. After all, managing business relationships at all levels of your organisation is key for cultivating a sense of unity and guiding your organisation towards business goals as a singular unit.

Finally—don’t fly internationally without Unisom!


What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?

Early in my career, it was suggested to me by a colleague that I was operating with “too high a level of integrity”. As the last syllable fell from that person’s lips, I realised that I couldn’t work for them.

Years on, the idea of compromising principles in order to get results is still alien to me—business leaders should have greater strength of character than that! Thankfully, rather than taking these comments on board, my younger self maintained focus and implemented “meaningful and actionable” standards for all of my programs, which I always held myself to. In so doing, I was able to add value for my employer and ultimately succeed.


What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?

You might say I’m biased, of course, but anyone embarking on a career in tech should ensure they are well versed in the security aspect of their chosen area of technology in order to stand the best chance of success.

Security used to be an afterthought in technology, whereas today, a premium is placed on people who can develop strong code, or deploy technology with the best security footprint. As the number of high profile data breaches continues to increase, I can foresee no slowing of the demand for security-conscious employees, no matter what their role in an organisation is. After security, the second-most important thing for someone at the beginning of their tech career to consider is whether they are truly passionate about the sector they are entering. It may sound harsh, but without passion, the motivation to succeed at the highest level simply won’t be there. 


What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?

To be considered for a C-level opportunity, a candidate must have a clear view of their entire business, including technology, business operations, and data flow. The ability to detect and mitigate risk is also essential. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate risk from any organisation, a C-level candidate must constantly assess how hackers might try to attack their business, as well as identifying the human behaviours that could lead to problems.

If an incident does arise, members of the C-suite must have the ability to remain calm in the face of the storm, and lead an incident management process effectively. This is where the ‘soft skills’ I mentioned earlier come into play—supporting the people you work with is essential for empowering them to perform their roles in the best way possible.


Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?

Yes, I have been fortunate enough to mentor people for many years and watched as they rose into leadership roles, many of them ultimately becoming high-performing executives.


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