This year, I spent part of my summer holiday reflecting on my life and career so far and on what lessons I might way to share with others. On August 11th, I will be contributing to EAGE’s 2020 career masterclass. You can hear key learnings from my experience, the most important of which I describe here.
Planning in real life
When I look back at the very winding road that brought me to the place I am – a place that I very much enjoy – I can say one thing for sure: I never planned to be CEO of a technology startup! What I always did was simply to follow my interests.
My journey started with engineering and progressed to geosciences, then to geophysics, to innovation, and to leadership. From sandy to icy desserts, from water to rock, from modelling to communication, living in three countries and working on all continents, I've seen many things.
What will I do next? what will I do in five years? "I have no idea," has been (and still is) the only answer I can come up with. Nor do I know what the most career-relevant expertise will be in 10 or 20 years, and I doubt anybody knows. Aside from the obvious such as strong interpersonal and technology skills, I'm certain of very little.
Follow your interest
Do I love it where I am today? Oh yes!
Probably the strongest lesson I can draw from my career is to always follow the direction you find most interesting and are passionate about. This will not only make you happy and satisfied but also help you excel in your role.
You need to make sure that your passion also is relevant. Inventing the world’s best quantum flux generator won’t make you happy or successful if nobody has use for a perfect quantum flux generator. The key here is to push yourself into environments you are not familiar with and to understand your peers and collaborators. You may have the perfect solution to their problems, but you first need to fully understand them and their challenges.
Passionate people are able to do things they don't even know about before doing them. I have witnessed that in the people I have had the pleasure of working with, and I practice it myself all the time. I was never trained how to be a CEO.
Love & master it
By pursuing your passion and communicating well with the folks around you, you will eventually acquire and continue developing knowledge about the line of work you truly Love.
The journey will give you the opportunity to become really good in doing what you are passionate about – you will Master it. When you have reached that level, you will be unstoppable!