Executives Unpacked Episode 21: Learn the Importance of People in Your Career with David Toomey

This post was written by: John Clifton

On Executives Unpacked we love getting to know the people behind pioneering companies. On Episode 21 we had the pleasure of speaking to David Toomey, the GM of Audio & Music Solutions at Avid. They are one of the world’s most recognised makers of tools for creatives in the video and audio space, and David is helping them navigate the rapidly changing landscape of creative media tools and solutions, bringing with him a wealth of experience from both publishing and creative tool ecosystem development at Adobe. Here’s what we learned from him: 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your career?

Be compassionate and over communicate. Make sure others around you know how much you appreciate their contribution. Always offer ways to support their needs or goals. Make sure that people feel like you know that the effort they’re putting in, day in and day out, and that it has real meaning in moving the business forward.

What do you wish you’d been told earlier in your career?

You really have to make the time and effort to do the networking thing. I wish people were a little bit more pointed in saying, ‘Hey, if you’re gonna keep growing in your career, it’s really on you to make sure that you’re focusing on your network.’ Often I’m hypercritical of myself, because I didn’t put enough focus and effort behind networking, and I hid behind the fact that my job is busy. Obviously, I have a personal life and trying to keep that balanced is sometimes difficult for people, but that’s not an excuse for you to neglect your network. 

Make sure that you’re scheduling in the time to find a mentor or somebody that you can model your career after. Make the time to go to meetups within your industry. If you can get a company to sponsor you to go to a conference, go to it. Those types of events are really important because they’re often the catalyst for you to find the next great opportunity for yourself. 

Over my years of being in the industry, my jobs have been fairly demanding so I didn’t put enough emphasis on building out a really healthy professional network. There’s a lot of work that goes into that, because it has to be a two way street. You can’t keep trying to take from other people, you have to be giving back too by helping people along and offering insights into a particular industry or job. It’s an effort you’ll never regret putting in, and it’s something you should be doing from the very beginning of your career.

What’s the best bit of advice that you’ve been given?

Be true to yourself and your needs. Always make sure that you’re taking time to celebrate with family and friends. Take care of your soul and be nurturing to yourself. You should be showing up every day while maintaining a balance that’s necessary for people to avoid burnout. Try and get yourself in a mental state where you’re a whole person coming to work, and that you have the ability to stay positive. If you go way off-kilter, where you’re doing endless hours at work and pushing hard to get to that next opportunity, that’s when everything can begin to suffer. Strike the right balance for yourself. 

That’s gotten harder for people as we went through the pandemic, because it’s hard to know where to draw the lines in the zoom culture we have now. Someone can always put a meeting on your calendar. It’s really important for people to say, ‘This is when I’m going to be available and working hard, and this is when I’m going to find time for myself. I’ve got to get out of the box here and go for a nice walk, decompress, and get myself ready to focus for the rest of the day.’ That’s really important.

What are the things that tend to keep you up at night?

I think worries like ‘Am I doing all I can to ensure that my people feel appreciated, valued and connected with their career growth?’ have always kept me up. It’s important that as a manager you have a really clear growth plan for the people on your team, and that they’re compensated appropriately. I’ve always believed that if you’re going to continue to excel within a business, you really need to make sure that you’re taking care of your people. If you’re taking care of your people, they’re gonna take care of your customers and grow the business by making sure that you have overall satisfaction from our whole client base. It’s super important that you’re staying focused on those things. When great talent moves on it’s really tough finding people who can replace them. I spent a lot of time at night making sure that everyone on the team is feeling like they’re right where they should be, and they’re free to do their best work because they’ve got the support that they need to keep excelling.

What is the one bit of advice you would always give to somebody else in the industry? 

Make sure you stay connected with your values. Make sure that you understand what you’re bringing to your job every day and placing value on it. I know that’s not easy sometimes, but there were times when I stayed a little bit too long in a job where I wasn’t growing, or I had another opportunity that was more connected with my values and I didn’t take it when I should have. Don’t be closed-off to change. Sometimes that can be within your company or within other industries that you might not realise you have the transferable skills for. You can provide a lot of value to a different industry, and that might be really interesting and exciting for you. It’s really important to stay connected with your values, because they’ll lead to your next opportunity. 

To learn more about David’s career, tune into the Executives Unpacked podcast here

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