C-suite career advice: Nick Corrigan, Global Payments

C-suite career advice: Nick Corrigan, Global Payments

ame: Nick Corrigan

Company: Global Payments

Job Title: President and Managing Director, UK & Ireland at Global Payments

Location: Leicester

Nick Corrigan leads the UK & I business at Global Payments Inc and is responsible for strategy and growth leading sales, business development, customer success, partnerships and marketing. He is leading the transformation of the business through development of distribution strategies, products, services and solutions to all customer segments together with the development of partnerships and acquisitions. Corrigan has worked in the technology industry for over 20 years in various roles working with all sectors and industries including financial services, public sector and manufacturing. His experience in technology spans professional services & consulting, cloud solutions and technology enabled digital transformation. Before joining Global Payments, he worked at Microsoft UK for over six years and was a member of the board and led the consulting and services division. Prior to this his career included working at hp and Fujitsu.

What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? One of the first jobs I had was in the customer services department at Tandem Computers - the organisation sold very complicated mainframe systems. After a few months, I was offered a job in the sales division of the business. I thought I couldn't do it because I didn't know anything about the actual technology, so how would I be able to sell it? However, a senior colleague said to me that I didn't really need to know that much about the technology itself, I just needed to know how to listen to the customer, understand their needs and get the right people at the right time. This is undoubtedly something I've taken with me through my whole career, and is still crucially important to my role today.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? The first time that I stepped up to run a team, we missed some of our targets. When discussing this with a colleague, they told me that people were just assets, and you had to treat the people in the team as just a number if you wanted to hit your numbers. I was flabbergasted and, needless to say, I didn't take the advice. To this day, I couldn't disagree with this more - people are the lifeblood of an organisation and treating people as "assets" is the worst way to lead.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in IT? Manage your time. It may seem simple, but without figuring out where your time is going, you can become very busy doing things that may not be the most important. In my view, a third of your time should be on meeting customers, a third on self development and a third on building networks.

Did you always want to work in IT? I completely fell into IT, but it suits me because I fundamentally like helping people find solutions to their needs. Plus, I get very excited about what technology can do for people and organisations. That's a huge part of my role now - at Global Payments, we strive to be a partner to our customers so I spend a lot of my time with our clients identifying how technology can help their business.  

What was your first job in IT? I started out at Tandem, initially in telemarketing.

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT? Having worked at Microsoft, my family and friends seem to think I can solve any computer issue they're having…which is definitely not the case! Not everyone who works in IT is technical and IT isn't all about bits and bytes.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? Make sure you enjoy it! You have to be in a role for the right reasons, because with it comes a whole bunch of responsibilities you probably didn't expect. I also think that it's important to find the right balance, in yourself, between IQ and EQ, because while it's great to be able to understand the numbers and how to run a P&L, you need to have the people behind you too, and that's a real skill and science.

What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? I'm a big sports fan and I read quite a few autobiographies. One that stood out for me was Jonny Wilkinson's. From a very early age, he knew exactly what he wanted and he worked incredibly hard to get there. It made me think about intentional career planning and what you want from your career. As I've moved into more leadership focused roles, I've spent a lot of time working on the kind of leader I want to be, and figuring out my own leadership style. I actually spent a week with Native American Indians understanding how they see leadership, which was incredibly insightful, and I found a real authenticity in the type of qualities I want to convey to my team.

So while I may not have scored the drop goal that won the Rugby World Cup, I am happy and healthy, enjoying my work and being the leader I want to be - and that's good enough for me.

Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? Totally. But balance comes from enjoying what you do. I tend to think a 70/30 split of enjoying/finding it a chore works for most people. If that ever moves to 60/40, it's time to reassess the balance.

What, if anything, would you change about the route your career path has taken? I once took a role where I led with my heart over my head, but it was an important experience to learn from. I guess in that sense, I wish I'd learned things quicker, but career paths are rarely straightforward.

Which would you recommend: A coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? Both are extremely valuable, but I would definitely recommend a coding bootcamp as you can learn the specific skills needed for a particular project very quickly. Working in a technology focused company, I've seen first hand the kinds of tech skills that are required to help advance our technologies and continue to support our customers change very quickly.

How important are specific certifications? They help as they demonstrate an ability to learn and exams help you learn how to work under pressure. As I've said, it's important to have a balance between IQ and EQ though - so while certifications can teach you a lot of the tactical skills, it's just as important to understand how to lead people. There are not many certificates for that!

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in prospective candidates? Positive energy, self-management and common sense. Candidates can train so much and gain so many qualifications, but when I see these qualities in a candidate they really stand out.

What would put you off a candidate? Not being yourself - it shows when you're trying to be something you're not, and it will soon catch up on you. At Global Payments, we embrace a broad range of skills, talents, backgrounds and more, and it's what makes our team unique. We're not looking for cookie-cutter candidates, but authentic people who can bring fresh perspectives to our team.

What are the most common mistakes made by candidates in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided? I can't count the number of times I've interviewed (unsuccessful) candidates who are trying to be what they think we're looking for, rather than themselves. My advice to anyone looking for a new role is just be yourself!

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills - or a mix of both? Definitely a balance of both. Yes, if you work in a technical role it's important to understand the technology, but not all roles in IT are technical and even for those that are, if you want to progress in your career you need to be able to understand a wider set of skills, e.g. strategy development, and of course, you need to be able to build, develop and motivate a team of people to support you.


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