No room for regrets in your career 

Get to know David Ngo and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he couldn’t miss out on that would change his career.

I joined Commvault fresh out of school and at the height of the boom in 1998. While I had other offers in hand, I liked the people I met during the rigorous interview process and was drawn to an opportunity to cut my teeth on something that would move the needle and bring real value for our customers.

Opportunities like this don’t come around often. For me, it was the right decision.

Jump ahead twenty years to when our new CEO Sanjay Mirchandani saw the opportunity to transform Commvault into a software and SaaS data management company. I couldn’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After all, how many times do you get to start with a clean sheet of paper and launch something that would transform both your company and your career?

No matter how it turned out, not taking this chance would have been a huge regret.

No regrets were necessary. Sanjay gave me and a small, stealth startup team a big goal, a little funding, and permission to break the mold to develop the best backup-as-a-service offering available. We had to be agile – make decisions, see it through, fail fast, and readjust. Together, we launched our Metallic software-as-a-service offering on-time later that year. And just six quarters later, it became a $50M business for Commvault.

For my career, this was the push I was looking for. It wasn’t engineering for engineering’s sake. We were designing a product that was tailored to the end-to-end customer experience – from trial to onboarding to purchase to support to renewal. We had to look at it from the outside in, working cross-functionally, and with customers and partners to plan for the entire user journey.

It was an amazing and incredibly rewarding challenge. However, opportunities like this are rare and can be a little risky because you’re stepping into the unknown. So I thought I’d share my advice to help you seize your next career opportunity:

  1. Get uncomfortable. Look outside your role and even your chosen function for new opportunities. And know, a little bit of “imposter syndrome” is good – It means you are expanding, growing, and pushing your boundaries.
  2. Look from the outside in. Take time to understand your stakeholders’ perspective and expectations. Not just about the product itself, but the broader customer experience – how it is priced, where can it be purchased, and how they will pay for it.
  3. Don’t fall in love with your ideas. Great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, especially working cross-functionally. And when you are moving fast, your ideas often have a shelf life. So be open, flexible, and agile.
  4. Overcommunicate. Time is not a luxury in technology. Communications is critical to align people, functions, and the field to work better and faster. Don’t skip this step.
  5. Bend it – don’t break it. In a role like this, it is common to ask why something it done a certain way. Look for opportunities to make a product or process better, but don’t break it (or the person behind it).

I’m fortunate. I joined a company that inspired me to look for new opportunities and empowered me to pursue them. And, in many respects, I am just getting started as CTO of our Metallic business – a ride I’m more than ready for. If you haven’t already found that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, my advice to you in your career is to leave no room for regrets.

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