Human Resources

C-suite career advice: Neil Costigan, BehavioSec

Neil Costigan

 Company: BehavioSec

 Job title: CEO

 Location: Sweden


What is the most valuable piece of career advice that you have received?
Working in a number of international environments has taught me a lot about navigating interesting dynamics and cultural norms.

Whilst working in Sweden it has made me realise that the Swedes often encourage a flat working culture, with teams often looking for consensus from the top to bottom. Whereas I have found that in Germany they often follow a specific structure, where your age and qualifications determine your level. Knowing how different cultures work allows you to be a better leader.

Plus a rule I always follow is “never attribute to malice what can be put down to incompetence”. Applying this mantra has since taken a lot of stress out of a few situations that could have been much worse. Never ever think people are maliciously trying to undermine or misunderstand.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
The worst piece of advice I have ever received was during a negotiation process and I was told “the valuation in the term sheet can be revised upwards after due diligence”.

This is an amateur mistake as it will never EVER happen. Why would it? The best offer you accepted will never suddenly be bettered.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
Always work in a company whose principle/core business is in your field and if possible your chosen speciality.  If you want the best possible career development you need to work in a role that is in line with both your skills and passion. 

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
Take the time to master at least one skill from outside of your tech background. I'd recommend management accounting for example. I always recommend surrounding yourself with trusted experts in areas you don't have as much experience or knowledge. 

Learn to trust and delegate as you can’t take it all on yourself, the ability to share responsibility without micro managing is an essential skill as you move up in your career. Finally, avoid 'MBA speak'.  It doesn't carry the gravitas you need at ‘c-level'

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
It's exceptionally rewarding to mentor someone and see them replicate your game plan, or even make it 100 times better. Grab any opportunity to do this, as it will not only help them develop in their career but it can help you reflect on yours too. 


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