In our second episode chatting to Janette Martin, CEO of Talos360, we ask her what her first-ever jobs taught her about herself, and what she learned during her career about the type of leader she wanted to become.
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Fiona: In our second episode chatting to Janette Martin, CEO of Talos360, we ask her what her first-ever jobs taught her about herself, and what she learned during her career about the type of leader she wanted to become.
Janette: I mean, my first ever job, I had a number of jobs at school and uni. Things like washing dishes in a local restaurant or serving cake in a coffee shop. I think what I learned from that was that I never did anything by half, I always did everything to the best of my ability. I was always watching everyone around me and striving for, you know, what did my boss do? What did my boss’s boss do? I was always, “What’s next? How can I learn more?”
My first proper job was at Sage, and I was there for 13 years. So, I learned a lot. Two things I take from the most are, I learned a lot about leadership. I learned a lot about what was good leadership, and what was bad leadership. We’ve all had many bosses throughout our careers, some better than others, and I was really inspired by leaders who were inspiring, who did develop people, who did support people. I think that really resonated with me, and it does every day for me, and that’s a big part of what I’m proud of and the impact that I can make. I view everyone as the talent of today and the talent of the future. To be able to play a part in that is something that I learned very early on in my career.
The other thing I learned was that, actually, I didn’t really know what I was going to do with my career in the early days, so I just tried to learn as much as I could. I had lots of different roles around that organisation, and that helped me learn what I was the best at and what I wasn’t so keen on, but all of that I could use in my future career. Those are the things I learned.
Fiona: Well, it’s interesting, you mentioned moving around and picking up things and learning what you wanted to do because, actually, 13 years is quite long for a first place of work. It feels like nowadays that would be extremely rare. Do you think current entrants into the workplace lose out from that in the sense they don’t get as many opportunities to understand the direction of travel as they go?
Janette: I think we know, don’t we, that employees these days have no reservations about moving roles, whether it’s for 1000 pounds extra down the road, that is very, very common now. I think there is an element of that. But I think those opportunities can still happen, I think it’s that connectivity that I talked about, and that feeling connected to the business, sharing in its values, sharing in its vision. I think the days of 13 years are probably long gone, but I think if you’re developing and you’re growing, and that’s important to you, then why would you look around?
Fiona: When you were starting out on your career, and actually, throughout your career, you were predominantly around operations and sales. So, what do you think that particular background taught you that you now bring to your CEO role?
Janette: I think it gives you a really good overview of all of the elements that make up a successful business. I didn’t know I was going to be a CEO back in the days when I was looking after a sales team. But I think any CEO needs to be a strong commercial leader. Having that understanding of what makes a business successful, understanding what’s going on in the market, and understanding what’s important to customers. I think in all of those roles, I learned how to be the best leader that I could be, and I’m still learning. But, you know, as I’ve said, many times you achieve things through the people that you have working with you. So, inspiring those people and helping to develop those people is all part of that journey and what makes a business so successful.
I think what else I learned was that, for me, confidence is a big part of what I need to be confident. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But as a woman in business, I think we suffer a little bit more from needing to know what we’re talking about, from really having that credibility. I’ve always worked really hard on that, constantly learning, always wanting to learn as much about other parts of the business so that I can be the best that I can be in the role that I’m doing.
Fiona: Yeah, they’ve shown, haven’t they, females are much more likely to suffer from impostor syndrome and presume they can’t do something rather than, kind of, presume they can.
Fiona: Is that something that you found you had to overcome as you moved up through your career?
Janette: We all do in some shape or form, don’t we? I think we all suffer from that. I think it’s what we do about that that’s important. It’s led to us always striving to learn as much as we can, and have that broader range of knowledge, whether it’s market, whether its customers, whether it’s internal knowledge. But I do think that’s really important, I think, to be able to speak confidently, I have to feel like I know what I’m talking about.
Fiona: And you mentioned that you didn’t always know you were going to be CEO. So, tell me a little bit about that move, and particularly how you found that transition from board-level exec to becoming a CEO business leader.
Janette: Honestly, I really enjoyed it. I couldn’t wait, I was really ready to take that step to CEO. I wanted the accountability and the opportunity to drive the business forward, to take people on a journey to success. Having sat around so many senior tables and always had that influence of where the business was going, but not always necessarily agreeing with where the business was going, or how we were going to get there, I just could not wait to have the opportunity to take that forward for myself, to work with my team. I love the challenge of getting out of bed every day and challenging myself about, how good can I be today? And how good are you, and have you got the most engaged team, and have you got the right goals? And I just love that I get to challenge myself on that personally, but also that I get to lead a team and lead a business to do great things, and really every one of us to be the best that we can be.
Fiona: Has that taught you anything about yourself? Because, I mean, it sounds like from when you were washing up dishes, you were striving. And now you actually love that accountability, even though that is a lot of pressure. Has that business success taught you anything about yourself?
Janette: Oh, gosh, so many things. I think it’s taught me that I love to take pride in everything that I do, whether that is from a personal perspective, or from a business perspective. And as I said before, you know, I like to do everything to the best of my ability. We’ve all got to have a good night’s sleep every night, so if I haven’t achieved some great things, or done it in the right way or the best way, then, you know, that is something that’s really important to me.
I have an 11-year-old son who has seen me start my role as CEO 2 years ago, and he’s really proud of me and that inspires me every day to be a role model around work ethic, hard work, and success. They’re all core values that I think are important to anyone wanting to be successful. And I think with all the new technology developments that we see now, these core values are still going to be important to all the younger generations coming into the workplace. So, I think pride and personal successes are what I’ve learned about myself, but, you know, I still really enjoy that impact and influence on all of the people that I work with. I think having the ability to take them on their journey or part of their journey is a real gift.
Fiona: You mentioned that still needing to get a good night’s sleep, how do you switch it off?
Janette: How do I switch it off? I think it’s that reflection on the day, in terms of what have you achieved today. Have you had a positive impact? Have you been there for others? I think if you can ask yourself those questions, then that’s a good tick in the box. And if you know what you’re going to get up out of bed and do the next day, you know writing it down before you go to sleep, or if you’ve got the best plans in place, then yeah, you can’t wait to get up the next day and get started on those.
Fiona: Yeah, the power of good a to-do list!
Fiona: Fantastic to hear what keeps Janette motivated each day. In our next episode, we chat with her about how she created the fantastic culture that led to Talos360 being named a top five workplace in tech.
Listen to the next episode here: