Executives Unpacked Episode 27: Finding Alternative Learning Paths with Matt Tirman

This post was written by: John Clifton

On Episode 27 of Executives Unpacked we were joined by Matt Tirman. Matt is the CCO of Satellogic, a company that is revolutionising access to geospatial data for the benefit of global decision making. Matt is very well known within the industry and has more than 17 years of experience in growing global technology and service companies across the public sector and commercial markets. We asked him about his biggest lessons and best advice, so read on to learn more about this exciting executive!

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

Be kind to people in a corporate setting. Whether that’s your partners, colleagues or customers, a little kindness goes a long way. One of your previous guests, the CCO of Pixel, stressed the need for empathy and I really liked that answer. Kindness and empathy absolutely will carry the company. You can have a great strategic hire that knows the industry and technology inside-out, but if they’re a cultural train wreck it’s not worth it. 

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

The first thing is to stay away from status or title hunting or moving to make a quick buck. Some of the worst decisions I’ve made in my career have been taking a job that promises a little bit more money or seniority. I overlooked other facets of the role such as cultural fit, what’s going to help you grow, where you can make a contribution and feel good about your role. They’re much more important in the long run. With grit and determination, things like money and titles will come.

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

Don’t get an MBA. I came very close to doing a part-time MBA in 2007, but then I had an opportunity to join a startup as employee number one. My mentor and boss at the time said “Join us here. It will be a salary cut and a different way of life, but I promise you that within nine months you’ll have an MBA worthy experience.” It was 100% the truth. I’m not saying that will be the case for everyone, but there’s a lot that you can learn on the job in a small company without going into a horrendous debt for an MBA.

What constantly keeps you awake at night?

I used to be a chronic worrier and I didn’t sleep very well. That was probably mixed with my own anxiety around having younger kids at the time. Around the time of the pandemic I started taking my health a lot more seriously, working out and being a lot more mindful. I was taking care of myself, which I used to think was a selfish act. Looking back on it, it was incredibly selfish of me not to take care of myself because it impacted my family and employer. Now I sleep relatively well, I get my five and a half to six hours. 

Can you identify a single thread that has run through your career that’s led to your continued success?

For me it’s a couple of things. I had kids and got married very young. I probably would not be the focussed individual that I am today without having the family support that drives me to do well. It’s also the people that I work with. There’s a couple of folks that I’ve worked with over the past 10 years who I tend to bring on as advisors, colleagues or employees. Without a doubt that’s led to some success. If they’re still working with me after that long, perhaps we’re collectively doing something right.

What would be the one piece of advice that you’d give to others? 

My one piece of advice would be geared more toward younger professionals. Remote work in your early 20s sounds like a fantastic way to strike that work-life balance. However – and this is just the plain reality – getting face to face time with your colleagues and your boss really does matter. It’ll transform your career, so take any chance you get to be in person early on in your career.

To learn more about the man behind these insights, tune into Episode 27 of Executives Unpacked here.

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