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Career path advice - from an IT project manager to an entrepreneur, CEO

winnie wang's Profile

Hello everybody, I'm an IT project manager in a large international company with over14 years of working experience in IT industry. Besides, I have over 4 years of experience in general management. I'm going to pursue an MBA in next few years and I'm planning for my career path. My long term goal is to found an IT internet software company, profiting from software services on the Internet, and to be the CEO of my own company within 10 years. My question is, what should be the best options for my short term goal within 3 - 5 years after MBA graduation? I want a reasonable goal that could be accepted by the B-school and bridge the gap between me and the CEO position in the future. My adviser once told me the best paths to CEO are sales or CFO. I have no experience in sales, but have some fundamental knowledge and experience in finance. I'm responsible for account receivables, internal sales and payment in my company. Thank you very much for your suggestion. Highly appreciated. Best regards, Winnie

Answers

Jason Spanos
Title: Principal
Company: Success ERP
(Principal, Success ERP) |

Hi Winnie. Here is a general rule of thumb: The closer you can get to bringing in revenue for a company, the closer you can get to the top of a company and the more influence you will have. This may not be true everywhere, but it is generally true. For a new company, the first thing you want to do is get clients/customers. If you cannot do this, your company won't last long and everything else is irrelevant.

Back to your question: You want to be CEO of your own company (meaning you own it, or at least part of it) - so what is the best path? Well, generally you will need to learn sales, because without sales there is no revenue, and without revenue there is no company. You can hire a competent book keeper when you first start a company (and part time at that), but it is much harder to hire a good sales person. Also, without sales knowledge, how do you negotiate skillfully with anyone? Furthermore, if your good sales person leaves, it is much harder to replace them in a small company than it is to replace a competent book keeper (many temp agencies can help with this). Strong finance knowledge comes into play when the company gets larger and you have money to strategically utilize... but first you have to get that money... so back to sales.

Please note that I am assuming we are talking about small companies here. This means you want your initial people to be classed as "jack-of-all-trades" to some extent because the small team will have to fill all roles until you can generate enough money to grow and hire specialists for specific areas... so again we need money, and we come back to sales which definitely should be in that general mix of skills for "jack-of-all-trades" for a small company.

I hope this helps.

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