Human Resources

C-Suite Career Advice: Jim Ivers, Chief Security Strategist, Covata

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

Jim Ivers

  Company: Covata

  Job Title: Chief Security Strategist

  Location: Reston, VA


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

An early mentor told me “There are no statues erected for committees.” The point is that big things happen when someone takes the risk to step out and lead.  Collaboration is essential, but breakthroughs come when someone trusts their vision, helps others to embrace that vision, and leads them to success.

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

Stay fluid and resist artificial pressures to stay in any one given market or niche.  Talented, smart people thrive regardless of the product, service or market.  Being exposed to new markets, approaches and technologies helps to round out your perspective and hone in on your ability to see opportunities and solve problems.  The new challenges will stimulate your mind and keep your thinking fresh.

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

Hire really good people, empower them to do their job, and let go of the details.  At one company, I remember sensing my current team was struggling.  I called my direct reports into my office and told them I was resigning, not from my job, but from trying to do each of their jobs.  The impact was instant, and extremely positive.  Each of them began to thrive in their roles and followed suit by empowering their own people in the same way.  This directly increased the effectiveness and the cohesion of the group.  In the end, that still ranks as the most exceptional team out of many wonderful groups I have had the pleasure to manage.  That happened because I stepped fully into the c-level slot and got out of their way.  I concentrated on running interference for them and making sure they had everything they needed to be successful.

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

One of the most critical points I try to make when mentoring is the notion that mature leaders are comfortable with having people around them that can do their job, and that their success is a reflection of the success of their team, and not their individual efforts.  That is hard to grasp because most leaders have a healthy ego.  But praise needs to be deferred to the team, while you take the full measure of any negative feedback.  I like the saying “If you are the smartest person in the room, you need to move to another room.”  You have to be comfortable with surrounding yourself with smart, talented people because people at that level will challenge you.


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