How I Became An Award-Winning CEO Of A Tech Company—And How You Can, Too
I recently received a few awards as a tech industry CEO, which got me thinking about when I first started my work experience. Back then, I had nothing to do with technology. I started off as an auxiliary accountant for a dairy product company of about 120 people at the very young age of 18—a position I held for around five years.
I went from business economics to transcontinental tech leadership.
My experience in economics and accounting helped my career from a business point of view. I remember working in a great duo that slowly became more focused on operations and management. We dealt with worker unions and banks, which today I value as the moment I first started reporting to a company director.
Taxed with monotonous tasks, I decided to move on to a bigger challenge after a few years, which is how I got to an Uruguayan technology company of around 60 people back then. It took me one and a half years to backtrack three years and bring the company up to speed with their books. After a while, this work also became routine, so I looked for my own replacement, only to be called back after some time to make Nearsure a reality.
Not everything comes easy at first.
I remember crying for about three hours when the time came for me to write my first business plan. Suddenly, I had to recruit people, make sales and create a website. Everything at that point was new, and I realized that leaders need to wear lots of different hats.
I was also in my mid-20s when this happened, starting off on a three-month trial with a role we weren’t sure would be successful. Yet, I also booked the company’s first client during my first week there. Nearsure and I have faced nothing but continuous growth since then.
Making it in the tech field requires broad knowledge.
If there’s anything I learned from this initial stage, it’s that it’s wise to diversify learning sources. I started a postgraduate degree in machine learning and analytics just because I wanted to go into software.
CEOs need constant learning. It’s a shame to let a single year pass by without any additional studies or career or knowledge improvement. Unrestricted to academics and formal studies, anything you teach yourself helps you think differently.
What’s key for me is understanding how all the different parts of technology come together and how they relate, which can be quite overwhelming. We should normalize how hard it can be to possess a real understanding of it all in this field from the very beginning. On the bright side, once you reach a little synergy, everything starts getting easier.
My best piece of advice to anyone seeking to make it in the technology sector is to grasp the technological ecosystem as a point of departure. Work by sections to expand your expertise. Learn more about programming, then move on to further knowledge of languages, quality assurance, the diverse kinds of operations and so on. Understanding agile methodology can truly help you grasp how everything comes together.
Soft skills matter in any field.
I also feel we need to acknowledge the human aspect on the path toward becoming and acting as CEOs. Soft skills are a great part of this role, despite technology being a hard-skill-driven industry. Out of all people-skills imaginable, I’d say CEOs need to know how to deal with frustration.
It’s such a human tendency to hide when we’re wrong. We seem to think we should be perfect and do everything by ourselves to be respected. Yet, acknowledging when we make mistakes gives other people a chance to help. It makes it easier to find solutions. People can do better, and we can work closer to one another. True leaders don’t shine based on their results; they shine based on their teams.
Hire the right people for the right roles.
You can cut back on your learning curve by bringing people on board who know certain areas better than you do, which is essential for progress. Finding the right people can be equally or more important than managing many aspects of a business. Tie this to clear goals and a clear vision of the future and you can make better decisions.
Right now, my company is working hard at a growth of 1,000 people over the next one and a half years, for example. We need to make decisions based on being a collective force of a thousand, rather than confining our thinking to the limited scope of being just the 250 people who make up who we are currently. That requires teamwork and a firm vision.
Instill multi-channel dialogue.
Being CEO also has a lot to do with speaking to outside competitors. No matter what your company is, you’re likely not the only one in a particular industry offering a particular service. You should talk to others doing the same, learn from them and keep that dialogue open.
That’s why you should be constantly networking, attending conferences, seeking events and looking for other opportunities. It’s part of understanding the market, even if you only work in a related field.
Celebrate your wins, every milestone and the journey.
Finally, I also think being in this type of leadership position calls for you to stop and think about everything you’ve done. Consider everything you and your teams have accomplished, all the decisions that have led you to where you are and all that failed, along with the choices you didn’t make.
Looking back to analyze your past is fruitful to understand how you got to where you are today. What’s taking you away from what you want, and what’s bringing you closer to what you do want?
This article was originally published on Forbes.com