On the lighter side of things we ask Andrew Stevens, President and CEO, CNet Training, about what makes him tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
I think my most memorable achievement on a personal level was to cycle over 400 miles in four days with a small group of friends to raise money for a cancer charity. I agreed to the feat in my usual fashion of ‘what could possibly go wrong’… and as always with me once I said I was doing it, then failure was not an option. From a work perspective, my most memorable achievements are every time I see my team recognised for the brilliant professional work they do. It makes me very proud that they get the recognition they deserve.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
I didn’t think of a career in technology, I fell into it. My story was more about the way in which I preferred to learn and that the pure academic route didn’t suit me. I left university (university really bored me) and started as a junior internal salesperson with a network infrastructure manufacturer back in 1988.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
I believe that as you and your company moves through the phases of development and growth, then your management philosophy requires changes. I see myself currently as a facilitator, and my job is to ensure that all the talented and dedicated people around me have all the tools at their disposal to drive the business forward to achieve our stated and yet to be stated goals. I need to look at the business and think about what it needs in the next five years, that might be new skills sets, new direction, new levels or empowerment but most of all for them all to know that as the leader I am primarily focused on looking out for them and protecting them. When a team feels safe and empowered, it is amazing what they will achieve.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Currently, the shift has obviously focused on the digital first responders (all those in the digital infrastructure industry) who support the medical and care first responders and how the digital infrastructure industry is supporting the new norm of working, playing and communicating from home. This, of course, brings challenges but it is certainly one that the industry has been scaling up for. I have said for a long time it is impossible to actually predict how a service, product or cultural shift will occur or be adopted because it is based on consumer decision making, social acceptance and individual needs. I think the industry will need to reflect on these past few weeks and decide on how it best encourages people to adopt all the things that have occurred for the benefit of sustainability and try and make those stick.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
If anyone that is reading this knows me, they would agree I love to socialise, play and watch sport and then socialise again and mainly laugh at myself. I don’t really do stress, I enjoy pressure and challenges and try to break down anything that may be deemed as stress into things that I can deal with. I don’t believe in worrying about things that I can’t shape, and I always take a look at the end goal, role play the options and tackle it head on.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
I don’t think I would change anything, things happen for a reason and its always important not to have regrets or think you have made mistakes, you may have made the wrong decision, but that is because you now have the benefit of hindsight and different data. Treat everything as an experience and keep using that experience to make better decisions.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
This is an interesting question and one that normally and historically has been around technology, but in the last 12 months, I have seen a real and tangible shift into the skills agenda. We have engaged with a large number (20 plus) of the world’s leading DC providers/operators on multi-year talent and education programs. It has been so refreshing to talk about development, retention and longevity and for us to be able to work with companies and know that these programs will last for years and years to come and leave a legacy which will benefit every single person in the industry and for those that rely upon the industry.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in the Middle East?
The regional challenges with regard to new technology implementation are affected by the standards being followed (or not) – this is the biggest challenge we are asked to assist with. Quite often, we find that the specifications that have been laid down are not clear and explicit, they often are at loggerheads and have clearly not been thought through or understood.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
My role hasn’t really changed in the past 12 months, I have a great team so the plan gets delivered and this allows me to work with our external stakeholders to ensure that we are providing the right products at the right time and that we are able to scale at the correct time to service our clients. A lot of my time is spent working with those stakeholders on the two to three-year road map we have with each of them.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
I guess the one piece of advice I would give to anyone is ‘be prepared for change and plan for constant change, ensure your teams also expect constant change – this will help them understand that change is good and that sticking to a plan for the sake of it does not work.’