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How to Get to 'C' Level: Career Advice from the C-Suite

Experts weigh in on the path to the C-suite, sharing their journeys, experiences and career advice.

Allison Francis

September 6, 2019

5 Min Read
CEO
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How can I get to the C-suite? For aspiring senior leaders, this is the question. If you are hoping to reach C-suite level, there are certain abilities and qualities you must have to get there. What should you do to cultivate these qualities? What skills should you be developing in order to advance? How do you show your leadership team that you are up to the task of joining their ranks?

During a panel discussion titled, “Career Advice From the C-Suite,” part of the careers track sponsored by Nextiva at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 9-12, in Washington, D.C., Bryon Beilman, CEO of Iuvo Technologies; Dick Jalkut, CEO of TPx; Jason McGee, CEO of Connectwise; and moderator Kathleen Connolly, general manager at Informa Tech (Channel Futures’ parent company), will lead an intimate career discussion to help guide you on the path to C level-ship.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Beilman and Jalkut give a sneak peek of the information they plan to share during this discussion. We have edited the answers for length and clarity.

Channel Futures: How has your experience shaped you and paved your path to the “C” level?

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Iuvo Technologies’ Bryon Beilman

Bryon Beilman: Working in a technical field, a lot of value is placed on technical abilities, which of course is important. The one thing that shaped me was that early on in my career I was typically given the “tough customers” – those that were generally difficult to deal with and to move them from a detractor to a fan. The C-level is often understanding people, whether it is your customers or employees and understand how to help them be the best that they can be.

Hear from these and other outstanding industry speakers at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 9-12, in Washington, D.C. It’s not too late to register!

Dick Jalkut: The experiences that have shaped me at the C-level have been extensive, but probably No. 1 was my willingness to volunteer for the very toughest assignments/jobs that no one wanted to tackle because of the career risks. I believe that if you have confidence in yourself, you should put your skills on the line. Challenge yourself and take the risk.

CF: Can you share the best career advice you wish you’d had early in your career? Or worst, if it applies, and how it shaped you.

BB: There are a lot of things I learned over time, and the way I think about it is, “What do I want my children to know so that they could accelerate their success?” Two things come to mind. The first one is to believe in yourself, and filter out those folks who say something can’t be done or done in a certain way, for that is only in their frame of reference. The second is always surround yourself with people that are smarter and better than yourself.

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TPx’s Dick Jalkut

DJ: I have been a CEO for over 28 consecutive years at about five different companies. I have had the privilege of serving as the chairman of the board of more than eight companies. The best career advice I got that I wished I had learned earlier was how to practice stakeholder management, to put a problem that needs to be solved right in the bull’s-eye and surround it with all the stakeholders who impact it and solve it from the outside in.

CF: What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you’ve received?

BB: I was working at a startup at the time, and was talking to my boss, the CEO, and I told him that I was seriously considering getting an MBA (after all, he had an MBA from Harvard). He asked me why, and I launched into this …

… whole description about accounting fundamentals and marketing and he said, ‘If you want to learn that stuff, buy a book or just do it, dig in and learn it. An MBA will give you connections, but you can do that all without an MBA.” That reaffirmed my mindset to just dig in, figure it out and do whatever it takes.

DJ: I learned how to move with people versus against them in a negotiation and truly understand their point of view and find points of commonality, particularly helpful in union negotiations.

CF: What tips would you give to someone aiming for a C-level position?

BB: Before starting this company, I worked at many startups. That meant long hours, wearing lots of hats and everyone working toward a purpose. I think the startup environment or mindset accelerates your understanding of business, because you are not siloed, and everyone is focused on getting the product or service to market. You don’t need to work in a startup, but assume that mentality. Dig into everything you can and become instrumental in many parts of the business. Be a person who gets things done.

DJ: Always surround yourself with people who are smarter than yourself. Park your ego and let others help you and they will make you look good as you climb the career ladder.

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About the Author(s)

Allison Francis

Allison Francis is a writer, public relations and marketing communications professional with experience working with clients in industries such as business technology, telecommunications, health care, education, the trade show and meetings industry, travel/tourism, hospitality, consumer packaged goods and food/beverage. She specializes in working with B2B technology companies involved in hyperconverged infrastructure, managed IT services, business process outsourcing, cloud management and customer experience technologies. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Drake University. An Iowa native, she resides in Denver, Colorado.

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