Make the most out of the opportunities that come your way and don’t be afraid to try something different

Doing things that you enjoy, looking for variety, and developing a broad set of skills have been the principles driving Matt Redford’s career. With over 20 years in IT and a degree in English literature, he has stayed open to whatever opportunities came his way and hasn’t shied away from taking risks. Everything he’s learned along the way has led Matt to his current role, the one he enjoys the most. Read Matt’s story below!

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IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

Hi, I’m Matt Redford, currently head of Corporate Function solutions in Enterprise IT. I am married with two teenage kids and consider myself an amateur triathlete, as well as a part-time taxi driver for my kids to their hobbies.

IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

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I never had an answer to the question “What do you want to be?”

Growing up I was always uncomfortable with being asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I never had an answer to this question, and I’m not sure I have one yet, either! My parents encouraged me to do something that I enjoyed, and I’ve followed this approach.

Looking back at my career I have been driven by a couple of other unconscious principles too, namely looking for variety and developing a broad set of skills. Here it’s not just about hard skills and formal learning, but also so-called soft skills. Even though I’ve spent over 20 years in IT, there have been many different roles in different companies and different environments. This variety and everything I’ve learned from it are what drive me and excite me, and that is what I enjoy.

IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

IT with a background in English literature

My education was also driven by the things that I enjoy – I studied English literature, and I loved it, reading and storytelling! It gave me a lot of strengths and brought many benefits to my career advancement, by giving me a different perspective to those who have a more official engineering background. My strength is in seeing the bigger picture and pulling things together, I can create logical reasoning and tell the wider story.

IT has been a hobby of mine since I was a child, when I got a computer from my father and learned it for fun. I started to work for Nokia in the UK in 1996. It was pure luck how I got the job – my mother was working there temporarily and I was fresh out of university, so she suggested I try it out, which I did. 12 months later I got an offer to come to Finland for a couple of years, and in 1998 I moved here. A couple of years eventually turned into more than two decades.

IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

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Enjoying Finland’s working culture and learning all the way

Officially my career kicked off in 1998 when I started as a developer in Nokia. Over the next 10 years in the company I performed various roles as an architect, configuration manager and team manager. It was a very fast-paced and diverse environment with a culture and ways of working that were different to what I experienced in the UK. I consider myself very lucky that I got the chance to move to Finland. Growing up I never thought I would stay in UK for work because I felt that I was never a good fit with the culture. But I enjoyed Finnish ways of working a lot, and needless to say it was a pure educational experience for me, which I appreciated.

IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

“Why don’t you try this?”

But then an opportunity came my way and in 2007 I became a self-employed entrepreneur, an independent consultant. It was pure luck again. I had some conversations with people, who said “Why don’t you do this?” I said “OK, let’s give it a try,” though it was a bit of a risk. And again, making this step to becoming an independent consultant taught me so much more than I could imagine. I completely lost count of just how many companies I worked with over those next 10 years, there were so many. I learned so much from seeing their different ways of working, the different things they did, and problems they came up against.

Eventually, I did some external work for KONE and that led to the position I hold now. Being a consultant I was lacking a connection to something bigger. In consulting assignments you don’t usually have that much opportunity to drive the direction. Sometimes you don’t even see the outcomes of your work, so you don’t know if it was good or not, or how to improve. I missed this connection and also the feeling of belonging to the company culture.

IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

The position I enjoy the most

In 2017 another opportunity came my way and I took the position of an enterprise architect at KONE. I started with quite a small domain of HR, but it grew substantially during 4 years in this role to include finance and unified communication and collaboration, among other areas. I learned a lot about areas that I hadn’t worked with in my previous roles, but as an architect I had this nagging doubt that I was effectively still just an internal consultant. It was somehow not quite satisfying enough for me. Then at the end of 2021 the opportunity arose to head up the Corporate function unit. Leading the unit where I was previously a domain architect was quite a risk again, both for me and for KONE. I did have some managerial experience, but not at unit-head level. So I was asking myself, “Would I be good at it? Would I enjoy it?” I am thankful to KONE for taking the risk and accepting me to the position, and I can say that the last year has been the most enjoyable of my career. A lot of the role is about coaching and leadership, and this has many similarities with my passion, which is sports and how to get the best performance out of yourself.

IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

Triathlon - my best route to well-being

One of the best things that happened to me during the last ten years has been finding triathlon as a hobby, because it’s taught me how to take care of myself. Everything that I’ve found out about improving my performance as a triathlon athlete can also be applied to improving my performance at work. Beforehand, my work-life balance was not always at a good level, I worked too hard and learned the hard way how important well-being is. 20 years ago, I used to spend way too much time at work, in order to try and make an impression and succeed. It didn’t impact my health back then, but it had an impact on many of my relationships, which then took many years to fix. Then as an entrepreneur, I was again anxious to do well, to build my own business and create good client relationships, and over time that built up stress and had an impact on my health.

In triathlon, working with a coach, I was not only simply swimming, running and cycling. We found ways to improve my performance through sleep, nutrition, use of data, balance and variety, as well as prioritization and peer support.

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IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

My biggest learnings

I would say that the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you can always do more than you think you can. Push yourself a bit more, take the opportunity, take that chance. My tip would be to look for opportunities that come your way – try new experiences, even though you never know where they lead. You might enjoy them or you might not, but you will always learn something new that will take you forward. Learning is very subjective and it does not happen very often in the classroom, at least I like to self-study at my own pace rather than sit and listen to somebody teaching. But in order to be successful you need support from people around you and your family, so, never forget about them and get too deep into work. That is why my other tip would be on work-life balance. Only you can control and own your work-life balance, and without doing that you won’t be as successful as you can be.

IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

BIGGEST LEARNINGS:

You can do more that you think you can do, so don’t give up too quickly.

We each learn in different ways, discover what works best for you.

TIPS FOR OTHERS:

Make the most out of the opportunities that come your way and don’t be afraid to try something different.

WELL-BEING AND WORK-LIFE BALANCE:

This is something under your control and its value to you cannot be underestimated.

IT careers at KONE – doing things that you enjoy the most

If you are looking for your next growth opportunity, visit our KONE career page, we want to hear from you!

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