Tony O’Malley has had an impressive career to date. From being a soldier in the Irish army to becoming the CEO of Fujitsu in Ireland.
Growing up in West-Clare as the son of a policeman, Tony was always interested in mathematics and serving the public.
Those passions have taken him on an amazing career journey spanning decades and one very impressive CV.
We spoke to Tony as part of our ”CV of Failures” series, where we find out the setbacks that CEOs had to face on their journey to success.
Here’s his story.
Early mistakes in the army
Like most young people starting out in their careers, Tony faced a few hurdles along the way.
”I clearly made plenty of mistakes. I started working at very young age. I became a second lieutenant when I was 18. I was a captain by 25 so there were plenty of opportunities to make mistakes but also the flip side of that is I had plenty of opportunities to develop, to progress and to gain new experiences.”
Tony is adamant that these early failures were learning curves that taught him a lot about teamwork and himself.
”The lessons I learned were the lessons that the army wants to instill in all of its cadets and officers. When it comes down to it, it’s about being calm under pressure. It’s about instilling the power of the team and it’s about having a sense of purpose so that people will go above and beyond to do something.”
After spending 9 years in the army, Tony decided to retire in 1995. Talking about the decision he explains that he was ”ready for the move and the next challenge.”
”At that stage, I had achieved what I wanted to in that role. I had been a captain for four or five years and was doing a senior technical role within army headquarters.
Changing career path
After leaving the army, Tony joined the multinational technology company Fujitsu. He held a held a variety of positions within the brand across delivery, consultancy, sales and account management before becoming CEO in 2015.
It might sound Tony’s career was all plain sailing. He did have a set career path in mind.
”I had an idea of what I wanted to do and where I was going to go. I generally looked ahead in chunks of three years. I would say for the next three years this is what I want to do. I made the conscious decision that I wanted to move into a general managerial role early on in my career”.
However, he faced setbacks and disappointments from time to time.
”Absolutely, sometimes it didn’t work out in a lot of different ways. Considering where I am now, the CEO in Ireland of a multinational technology company that is headquartered in Japan. Did I think I was going to be that when I started out as a 17-year-old in West-Clare? No. I certainly took the scenic route by going into the defense forces in the first place. But all that happened for a reason.”
Not using his network effectively
Even successful CEOs can struggle with networking. Tony admits that when he was younger he found it difficult to put himself out there.
”I’m no different from a lot of people. I would classify myself as somebody who networking doesn’t come naturally to” he explains. ”But it is something that you do get better with over time.”
”It’s never too early in your career to develop your network. Your network becomes more important as you become more senior in your industry.”
Self-doubt during early days at Fujitsu
We are all familiar with the nagging feelings of self-doubt. Looking back on his career Tony admits that he hasn’t always been the confident businessman we see today.
”One thing that stands out from those early days is you have to back yourself and listen to your gut instinct because it is always right. You’ve got to be confident in yourself. You’ve got to have that level of assurance.
”Fear of failure will ultimately hold you back” he explains. ”Experimentation is good and there will be times when you will fail but you learn from the experience.”
Thankfully he has been able to move past that stumbling block.
”I have moved on from fear of failure driving me to gaining experiences and trying out new things.”
”I don’t believe in having regrets. We’re all responsible for where we are. We made the decisions at the time. Take responsibility for the outcome and learn from it and move on.”
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