Climbing up the corporate ladder usually takes decades, but this young gun made it to the COO position by the age of 24. Here’s how.

Scoring his first Marketing Manager role at the ripe age of 19 with no qualifications, Tehbyn Nova has had a flying start in the corporate world. Awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 in the Start-up category, the now 24-year-old is a digital pioneer and Chief Operation Officer (COO) at one of Australia’s largest solar operators, Instyle Solar

So, how did he get there? Tehbyn has shared his top tips for young professionals getting started. 

Understand where value is generated in the business

Avoid focussing on your tasks in isolation and instead think about how your position plays a role in the greater context of the company’s success. If you can see how your role adds value to the business and drives results, you can establish yourself with more confidence and ensure that you are supporting the business objectives. That way you can more easily identify opportunities to expand your set of responsibilities and build more value within an organisation. Many times, the best opportunities for offering value, are the ‘dusty cupboards’ of the business no one wants to clean out. 

Expand the boundaries of fixing solutions 

It’s cliché but thinking outside the box and exploring alternative solutions to problems is essential in a constantly evolving business environment. Often, when facing problems, it can be easier to resort to tried and true ‘fixes’. Many times, however, we are just band-aiding more fundamental weaknesses in a business. I often try to come up with new ideas by asking myself what the absolute best solution would be if cost was no issue, then scale back my grand ideas in accordance with the business’s budgetary requirements. 

To get a job, already be doing that job

There is no better way to sell yourself than to show that you can already ‘do the thing’. If you are successful in your own right, and have a proven track record, it’s hard to argue with on the day of your interview. If you aren’t given an opportunity to get results within a formal position, get them by freelancing or via a side hustle. The additional benefit being that if your new project is REALLY successful, you may not need to interview again! 

24 year old COO shares his tips for young professionals
© Instyle Solar

Consistently reassess your mindset, without breaking the wheel

It’s easy to use the method of ‘copy and paste’ when you get into the 9 to 5 cycle.  Although the old saying stands true ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, it is still important to be open-minded to new solutions and always look for new opportunities to build or find a more effective way of doing something. Similarly, constantly reimagine your workflow and find systems to improve the function and efficiency of your tasks.

In saying that, it’s important to differentiate between what’s working well and what isn’t. When something is working in business, you systemise it, codify it, and make it more efficient, either with better defined SOP’s or automation. When something is not working, you go back to the drawing board and reassess what you might be blind to, look at the data, and find the patterns that you weren’t seeing. 

Remember, patience isn’t the same as complacency 

When you’re young it’s normal to compare yourself to others and feel the need to rush your career or speed up your business’s growth. People often think that with the right set of actions, they could be a millionaire in a month. Good things take time and, with experience, you’ll have a better understanding of how long things take. Being patient does not always mean you’re being complacent. Patience is understanding that even if you do everything right, growth takes time. Complacence is thinking success will happen regardless of your actions. 

Gary V has a great way of thinking about his relationship with time: he tries to ‘speed up the micro, and slow down the macro’. In other words, he tries very hard to get more out of his everyday work life, while keeping the way he thinks about his business long term. 

Diversify your skills

If the last year has shown us anything it’s that things can change in an instant and your entire business operation will be tested to function outside its usual parameters. It’s become very clear that having the ability to adapt and diversify your skill set will prove valuable. Taking the time to upskill yourself in different areas – whether that be operational, finance or tech – will help make you even more indispensable. Last year, I went from Chief Marketing Officer to Chief Operations Officer as I found my affinity for data and a sharp understanding of the business climate lent itself well to the position – something I wouldn’t have foreseen a few years ago. As well as that, being a capable ‘jack of all trades’ can be incredibly useful in an organisation as people increasingly turn to you for advice and assistance.

To be taken seriously – be an expert in what you’re doing 

Decouple age from the concept of success – it doesn’t matter how old you are if you’re an expert in your field. If age isn’t a reason for other people to expect less from you, then it’s not an excuse for yourself. At the end of the day, the market cares about results and you are competing in that market. 

© Instyle Solar

About Instyle Solar

Instyle Solar is one of Australia’s largest residential and commercial solar companies, completing over 20,000 solar installations across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Instyle Solar is committed to helping customers never pay an expensive power bill again. 

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