Last year I had the opportunity to talk tech careers with people from across the world of tech in Series 1 of the Hays Technology podcast, ‘How Did You Get That Job?’.
Before Series 2 begins in May, I’m looking back at the recurring themes that we explored last year. You can read part one of the series recap here.
The potential of people out there without a traditional tech background has been a common talking point throughout these conversations, and I’ve heard some great opinions.
Adam Spearing, EMEA Field CTO at Salesforce, said something which I thought was fantastic: “We have a responsibility as a technology company to let people know to come join this world”.
Businesses that recognise their “responsibility” are going to see a lot of benefits, too. Charles Ewen told me how the Met Office were early adopters of high-level apprenticeships, attracting applicants who enjoyed maths, physics or technology and would bring new perspectives and ways to look at problems.
I also spoke with Rod Boothby, Global Head of Identity at Santander, who explained: “Many people have the skills to accomplish [success in tech] but maybe they haven't learnt the particular language that your company uses, or they haven't done much coding at all. I think you can get them up to speed very, very quickly…working in a global bank like Santander has really opened my eyes to the most amazing amount of talent that isn't where we expect it to be.”
Jessica Nemmers, Chief Security Officer at Elevate, used to be a ballerina before changing career path. She’s found a community of former artists who have entered the cyber security field and recognised that the skills they’ve brought to the table have been valuable to their organisations. Thomas Wythe was 16 when he took an apprenticeship at an aerospace company to learn mechanical and electrical engineering. Now SVP Solutions at Go1, he’s noticed that the process of problem-solving is very similar for a software engineer.
He actually offered an excellent invitation to those listeners who aren’t working in tech right now: “Technology is part of everybody’s life now, we are all technologists and futurists in a way. If that excites you and you want to understand how those things work, that’s really a cue for me that you should be interested in a career in technology. If you want to understand how that world around you is working, and that really excites you and you're very curious about that and you want to pull it apart and figure out how it works, then the technology industry is a way to do that.”
You can hear more on this topic in the second of our special bonus episodes.
Lastly, I was really touched by my guests’ honesty, especially when they spoke candidly about the moments in their career that didn’t go to plan. After a short spell at a movie company, Kathy Chen, decided it didn’t suit her and returned to tech, now working as a senior leader at Citrix. It’s clear her experience affected her, but she was able to learn from these experiences and take the lessons forward with her.
Likewise, Boothby discussed the setbacks he’s faced. I loved a point he made about how things seem like disasters as they’re happening, while in reality they’re just a part of the journey: “The thing is, the way the world is, setbacks are going to happen, and it’s hard as hell to remember this when you're there.”
Dan Shapero is now COO at LinkedIn, but his early experiences were defined by challenges: “Right as I graduated, the .com bubble burst. I joined three companies. Each of them ran out of money within six months of me joining and it was a pretty tough. So, I decided to weather the storm and go back to business school. I was still a little scarred from my startup experience right out of college.”
What mattered, though, is that he didn’t let those bad times define the rest of his career. Instead, they were just the start of his fascinating story.
Chief Commercial Officer at Hays
Shaun is responsible for the creation and execution of sales strategies, as well as running the Major and National accounts organization, for Hays in the US. With over 20 years of staffing industry experience, Shaun now hosts the Hays Technology podcast, ‘How Did You Get That Job?’.