From Software Developer To CEO: Red Hat’s Matt Hicks On His Journey To the Top
Hicks believes his core knowledge helps him to guide the company’s strategic bets. While his experience is an asset, Hicks says it’s not a given that a good developer will make a good leader. You also need to know how to communicate your ideas persuasively. “You can’t just be the best coder in the room,” he says. “Especially in STEM and engineering, the softer skills of learning how to present, learning how to influence a group and show up really well in a leadership presentation or at a conference — they really start to define people’s careers.”
Hicks says that focus on influence is an important part of his role now that he didn’t relish earlier in his career. “I think a lot of people don’t love that,” he says. “And yet, you can be the best engineer on the planet and work hard, but if you can’t be heard, if you can’t influence, it’s harder to deliver on those opportunities.” Hicks embraced the art of persuasion to advance his career. And as an open-source developer, he learned to embrace enterprise products to advance Red Hat’s mission. He joined Red Hat just a few years after Paul Cormier — then Red Hat’s VP of engineering, and later Hicks’ predecessor as CEO — moved the company from its early distribution, Red Hat Linux, to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It was a move that not everyone liked. […] “As he settles into his new role as CEO, the main challenge ahead of Hicks will be picking the right industries and partners to pursue at the edge,” writes Condon. “Red Hat is already working at the edge, in a range of different industries. It’s working with General Motors on Ultifi, GM’s end-to-end software platform, and it’s partnering with ABB, one of the world’s leading manufacturing automation companies. It’s also working with Verizon on hybrid mobile edge computing. Even so, the opportunity is vast. Red Hat expects to see around $250 billion in spending at the edge by 2025.”
“There’ll be a tremendous growth of applications that are written to be able to deliver to that,” Hicks says. “And so our goals in the short term are to pick the industries and build impactful partnerships in those industries — because it’s newer, and it’s evolving.”
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