C-suite career advice: Alastair Hartup, Network Critical
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C-suite career advice: Alastair Hartup, Network Critical

Name: Alastair Hartrup

Company: Network Critical

Job Title: Global CEO

Location: Reading, England

Alastair Hartrup is the CEO and founder of Network Critical, a high-quality Network TAPs and Packet Broker company. Beginning his career as an engineer, Alastair founded his first company, Buttweld Supplies Ltd in 1988 but as the IT industry began to rise in prominence Alastair realised that this was the future. In 1997 he founded Network Critical and under his leadership the company has grown from zero to a global multinational business, and Alastair has established a strong relationship between himself and many of the leading service providers across the world.


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? Lead rather than manage. Whilst both important, leaders will inspire, motivate, influence their teams and, assist them in reaching their goals and achieving their highest possible performance.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in IT? Willingness to continuously learn is an important skillset to have for anyone looking to start their career, regardless of industry. As the IT industry is constantly evolving, this should also involve curiosity and listening out for topics surrounding the future of technology.

Did you always want to work in IT? No, I studied to be an engineer. As my career progressed, certain industry's rose to prominence and it became clear that IT was the sector that I saw a future in.

What was your first job in IT? I initially started working in IT selling network testing tools in the early 2000s. I then moved into the TAPs market and eventually packet brokers, where Network Critical has been able to help enterprises across various sectors run its network management effectively.

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT? One of the most common misconceptions is that IT is a highly paid industry. Whilst the technology is ever evolving and there are opportunities for fast growth, it is not necessarily any more lucrative than other industries.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? I would reiterate the need to lead rather than manage which is even more important for C-level positions. Whereas the manager exists to plan, organise and coordinate, a leader serves to inspire and motivate.

What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? I believe I have been luckily enough in my career to reach several personal goals within my business life. My next ambition is to have a great retirement.

Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? As a business leader and owner, it makes it difficult to balance my work life. This is one of the downsides of being a leader in such a competitive field, you tend to work 24/7 because the business is always on your mind.

What, if anything, would you change about the route your career path has taken? I have been very happy and lucky with the path my career has taken. Therefore, I do not have anything I would change.

Which would you recommend: A coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? Both have individual merits, it is important to see what personally motivates you as a person and which offers the best route to your career.

How important are specific certifications? In certain corporate environments they are very important. Many of the major IT companies will be seeking very specific certifications. If you have a specific company in mind that you wish to work for, you need to make sure you have done your research beforehand.

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in prospective candidates? Drive, commitment and attention to detail is what I look for most in prospective candidates. This is important as a strong drive mentality helps you improve and do your best work. Commitment helps to improve not only your own abilities but also the standing of the business. Whilst excellent attention to detail achieves thoroughness and accuracy when accomplishing a task.

What would put you off a candidate? To succeed, arrogance goes against all the values that I feel makes a successful candidate such as a willingness to learn, drive and commitment.

What are the most common mistakes made by candidates in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided? Everyone has weaknesses. Trying to hide and appear to be the perfect employee comes across unnatural. Therefore, embrace your weaknesses and highlight your willingness to address this and learn from it.

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills - or a mix of both? IT is both a technical and business-based industry. Therefore, it is important to have a skillset that embraces both technical knowledge with clear business skills.

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