Career Snapshot: Savouring London life, and always asking ‘What am I making here?’
Olen Scott came into telecoms by chance but is enjoying the journey, whether it’s meeting great colleagues in Antigua, trying an old world English pub, or learning from leaders’ successes – and failures. Here, the senior vice president, Worldwide Channels at Aryaka Networks shares with VanillaPlus some of the lessons he’s learned so far.
VanillaPlus: What was your first job?
Olen Scott: My first job out of university was as a territory sales representative with MCI Communications selling telecommunications services. However, my very first job was as a newspaper carrier (paperboy) when I was just 11 years old. I had to ‘stretch the truth’ just a little bit to be eligible for this, with the age requirement set at 12 years.
VanillaPlus: What led you into a career in telecoms?
Olen Scott: Looking back, it was almost a pure coincidence that I started out in the telecoms industry. In 1993, a great friend of mine who worked at MCI at the time said, “Olen, you have to come in and talk to this guy Chris Jones, he is a sales manager here and he just reminds me of you every time he talks, you have to meet him.” At that stage, a career in sales or IT had never once crossed my mind; but upon meeting Chris my friend was proved right – Chris was brilliant, MCI was a wonderful place to work, with a great team. And the rest, as they say, is history.
VanillaPlus: Without naming and shaming, tell us about your worst ever boss.
Olen Scott: It’s a well-known ‘movie’ to many in revenue generation roles; but my worst boss ever was always the smartest person in the room. He never listened to his people, his team, and always had an idea of the answer he wanted before he asked any question. Any answers that didn’t match with this therefore were inevitably incorrect. It created a caustic culture and, ultimately, instead of being surrounded by great leaders and team members with personal courage and intuition, he ended up with an inner circle that only told him what he wanted to hear. The great people that he had ignored found new homes and new exciting opportunities. I never looked over my shoulder to see if he made it.
VanillaPlus: What has been your most memorable business travel experience?
Olen Scott: My most memorable business travel experience is that I was fortunate enough to go on a wonderful trip to London just last year with Aryaka. I am lucky in that I am pretty well travelled but, surprisingly, it was actually my first time in London and I met a colleague who quickly became a great friend whilst also meeting many of Aryaka’s brilliant partners.
I am a bit of a foodie and I have to admit the highlight was an evening in Windsor where we had an unbelievable meal at a place called Meat on the Parish and then a couple of drinks at the oldest Pub in Windsor (or so my colleague Ian said) called The Two Brewers which incredibly is over 200 years old! Just everything about seeing central London for the first time, riding the Tube, being embraced by our partners and local teammates and that memorable evening that culminated at this historic pub, it was a really special trip, and one that I will remember for a long time.
VanillaPlus: What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
Olen Scott: I’m fortunate to have enjoyed some really great career moments but, looking back at a time that stands out as my proudest was a club trip a few years back for my then employer’s revenue organisation. We went to this wonderful resort in Antigua and were having a day of water sports and relaxing when it dawned on me that roughly 50% of the people at the gathering were in my organisation, which was one of six similarly-sized teams in our business. It was one of those moments where everything just came together. Looking out across the amazing talent that had been curated over a few years, to the point where the club trip looked more like my team meeting, it really caused me to swell with pride in that moment.
VanillaPlus: What business/life lesson would you share with your younger self?
Olen Scott: Don’t just work for money. Ask yourself, “what am I becoming here?” in addition to, “what am I making here?” Personal growth has to be a huge element of your career.
In every opportunity and job, there are always lessons to be learned that are worth far more down the road than your younger self ever seems to appreciate during those moments. When you are young, everything feels so important, but now, I always remember to play the long game.