Human Resources

C-suite career advice: Dan Mondor, Spectralink

Dan Mondor

  Company: Spectralink 

  Job Title: CEO

  Location: Colorado, United States 


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to take risks – in other words, focus every day on playing to win.  There is a major difference in how you will think and act when you play to win versus just playing “not to lose”. If you don’t take a risk to try new approaches, the world will pass you by. 
I was also advised early in my career that you should anticipate business needs and act before having to be asked by your manager.  By staying ahead and thinking ahead, you will better serve your company’s needs and add the most value. Your personal success will directly follow your company’s success.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
I’ve been approached and recruited for roles where it boiled down to money being the primary attraction, rather than the role and/or the company.  I learned early in my career that the intrinsic benefits to a career isn’t measured by dollars. It’s the impact you’ll have personally, the potential for you to learn and grow, and ultimately the success of the company is what real success is all about. The key point here is to never take a job based on compensation alone. 
I also learned that you really need to trust your inner voice.  Along my career, I’ve been encouraged to stay in roles within a company longer than I should have.  My inner voice has told me when I’ve outgrown my current job and it’s time to take the risk of starting over in order to learn and grow.  You must respect and listen to your current managers and of course complete all job assignments, but you must trust your instincts and decide for yourself when it’s time for your next challenge.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
The sweet spot in tech is to seek opportunities that are at the leading edge of technology and targeting fast growing markets - you want to be right at the intersection of these points.  If you can find that tech opportunity, don’t let it pass by. 
When charting your career in tech, first figure out what you don’t want to do. It’s the best way to help you gain insight into what is right for you as you start out in your career.  Rather than jump at opportunities without thinking about the fundamentals, you may later regret your choice. For example, does working for a large global multi-national, an established mid-sized company, or an early stage start up excite you most? The next layer down is to think through what doesn’t appeal to you in terms of the job itself and the role you’ll play - do you want to be working on a broad product portfolio or gain deep expertise in single technology?  By answering those questions about your career preferences, this process of elimination can really help to make the right choices about what job opportunity will ultimately give you the most satisfaction and start you on the path to career success.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
It’s essential to operate at the level you aspire to achieve long before you’re there.  If you see yourself as a C-level executive, examine those attributes and incorporate those into how you think and act. Seek out role models and spend as much time with them as possible to learn about their management style. 
Cast a long-range vision of yourself and the steps you need to take along the journey to the top.  How do I see myself in 2 years, 3 years, 4 years along the journey?  By knowing where you want to be in your future, you can better identify gaps and areas for growth, along with the experience and skills needed to get you there. 
Develop an insatiable appetite for resources on leadership, general business, and organisational dynamics. Most importantly, I have adopted the principles of “Leadership DNA” – six core attributes and behaviors that are essential to highly effective leadership. As a CEO and in my prior business leadership roles I have institutionalised these six principles with my executive leadership teams and have mandated that they are cascaded within their organisations.

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
I tell people that they need to figure out and pursue their “natural DNA” – the discovery of what you love to do and where you are naturally gifted. Oftentimes people find themselves on a career path treadmill and lose sight of who they truly are and what they should best be pursuing.  For instance, I’m a trained electrical engineer.  However, I learned that while I have the acumen and formal education in engineering, my natural DNA led me to sales and marketing where I quickly rose to executive level positions, then to general management, and on to the C-suite. So, if you find yourself going down a certain career path, and an alarm goes off that it just isn’t for you, don’t let it stand in the way of changing course in your career to follow your passion.


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