Five things I wish I knew before I started

Simon Clark, VP of Commercial Operations

In our new series, we ask our key thought leaders to share a more personal perspective on their career journey and current position.

Our VP of Commercial Operations Simon Clark has 20 years’ experience in the technology industry. Simon started his career in a boutique management and technology consultancy where he worked across multiple industries on short to medium-term projects for clients across New Zealand. Simon then spent 11 years working in FinTech in London, one of the commerce centres of the world. He led multiple teams working with billionaire hedge fund clients and large-scale investment management companies throughout EMEA to deliver complex solutions to meet the demand of global investment management. Simon supported his customers through the challenging Global Financial Crisis with tools and systems that helped manage their investments.

Simon returned to New Zealand with his young family to raise his kids in Aotearoa in 2015; he joined Orion Health that year. Since joining he has worked on some of the largest and most complex implementations and projects. Simon delivered high profile strategic projects for both internal and external customers. Simon spent a year working as the line of business owner for the Amadeus and Amadeus X product lines before moving into his current role as VP of Commercial Operations, where he is responsible for the Commercial team around the globe.

Can you share with us five things you wish you knew before you started out?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions 
In technology, healthcare, and business in general, there is a lot to learn. Don’t tie yourself up in knots trying to figure out something, when you can crowdsource some knowledge from your peers. Write down that acronym you didn’t understand in the meeting and ask your colleague to explain. Chances are there are other people who also didn’t understand the whole story, so you probably aren’t alone. I have always told my staff that there is no such thing as a stupid question – but, equally, as a manager, you need to realise that people learn in different ways. You should make sure to explain things in a way that appeals to different styles, and check your team’s understanding. 

Take every learning opportunity 
You spend years studying to get yourself a good job… learning should not stop there. There are a multitude of industry qualifications and skills you can obtain as you progress your career. You don’t need a million letters after your name to impress people, but continue to learn as you advance your career. Attend meet-ups and industry organisation events to help develop your knowledge. I have added some fantastic skills since leaving university by continuing to study throughout my career.

Don’t be a passenger 
You have the ability to be in the driver’s seat of your career. This means you should get involved in projects that might be outside of your comfort zone. I found myself leading a team of analysts for a complex data conversion project at a very early stage in my career; this helped prove to me that you can lead others without being a manager. I often put my hand up to assist or to be part of challenging projects to continue to push the boundaries of my skills and knowledge. Be seen as the person who is willing and able, and you will get rewarded for your efforts.

Choose the right medium
In today’s connected world there is myriad of methods to communicate. It is important to know your audience and what they need. This means providing the right level of detail to the consumer of the information. Know when a short Slack message is suitable, compared to a comment on a Jira ticket, or whether a full, evidence-backed business case is the right level. Target your communications to your audience; you wouldn’t use the same language talking to your grandmother as you would to your mates on the sports field. At Orion Health we work across multiple time zones, so it’s important to anticipate any questions the recipient might have in advance to help prevent Jira comment ‘tennis’ that spans multiple days. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to get something resolved quickly.

Learn to delegate 
You can’t do everything. As you work with others it is important to learn to delegate to others. This can be quite tricky when you have your preferred way of doing things. You need to be able to trust others that they can perform the required task, even if it is slightly different from how you envisaged originally. You will be successful if your team is successful. That means ensuring your colleagues can perform the task at hand independently and not micro-managing their every step.


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