Human Resources

C-Suite Career Advice: Tony Speakman, FileMaker

We ask industry leading C-suite professionals for their expert career advice...


Tony Speakman

  Company: FileMaker

  Job Title: Director

  Location: London, UK

What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
It was to judge any job opportunity by asking yourself three questions - is it financially viable, will I enjoy it and will it aid my career progression? If only one of these is right in a role you’re considering, then don’t go near it, look for something else. If two questions look to be right, then it’s a role that’s worth pursuing, at least for a while. If all three are positive, then grab it by the horns and make the most of it! It’s a piece of advice that I’ve passed on to others many times.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
The majority of the tech industry is changing faster than any of us can predict, with the workforce often taking longer to adapt than the technology itself. This creates both opportunities and frustrations, it’s not realistic for you to keep pace and change roles every five minutes - you need to embrace your sector of technology, regardless of how swiftly it’s moving. Try to surround yourself with people who share this mindset, and are also keen to progress. There will always be, like in any area of business, people who don’t share these ideals and spend their time complaining - try to gravitate away from this mindset, negative thinking is strangely addictive but always destructive.      

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
I would suggest that you need to have comprehensive understanding of both the technology and commercial elements of the business that you’re in. You don’t have to be an expert in every aspect, but you do need to be able to communicate and surround yourself with those who are. If you can’t do this, the experts will disregard you, and you’ll need supporters in different part of the organisation to progress. You need to grasp where future successes are going to come from, both for yourself, and for the business you are in. Finally, remember that crystal balls are notoriously myopic - to ensure you keep moving forward, make sure to consider other peoples’ points of view about the future as well as your own opinions.

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
I once told a member of my team to “wear your best suit to the office” - what I was telling him was that the customers loved him, but his colleagues were starting to despise him. He needed to understand that it was the people within the company that would promote him, not his external clients. He seemed to take it on board rather well, as he now runs a substantial worldwide division of Microsoft, earns significantly more than I do, and he deserves it!


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