Wednesday, May 27, 2020

5 Career Path Principles to Live By with Vikki Kolbe

SmarterCX Team
January 22, 2018

4 minute read

Vikki Kolbe, Senior Vice President of Industry Cloud at Oracle, shared with us her 5 pieces of career advice based on her unique and highly successful career in the technology industry.

Hear Vikki’s “5 Career Path Principles to Live By” and read the transcript below. Plus, learn more about Vikki’s story in “Women in Technology: Meet Vikki Kolbe“.

 Career path principles: respectPrinciple #1: Treat everyone with respect

The respect part is huge for me. One thing in a career everybody needs to do is, whether it’s the janitor, whether it’s someone at the front desk, whether it’s a senior vice president, you look them in the eye, you shake their hand, you treat them like a person. Period. All the time. Full stop.

Career path principle: don't be afraid to do the job nobody wants to doPrinciple #2: Don’t be afraid to do the job nobody wants to do

I spent the first 20 years of my life doing, “Hey, can you take this job? I know you don’t know anything.” And it was typically because three or four other people tried it and they failed, or they hated it. So, to me, it’s … take the job that nobody wants. And then crush it.

Career path principle: don't be afraid to get firedPrinciple #3: Don’t be afraid to get fired

I have never been afraid to get fired. That means — and Dorian Daley says this — doing the right thing is always the right thing. It’s always easier to do the right thing. For me, that means, I’m going to say what I really think. I’ll do it in a respectful manner. I’m going to action every day what I think is the right thing for Oracle and our customers and every day, I’m not going to be afraid to get fired.

Now, I make it seem like that’s easy, that we don’t need to make money, that we don’t need to pay the bills. We absolutely do. And you don’t do it frivolously, you don’t do it without respect, but the day that I’m doing something for the wrong reason, I gotta get out. And that means work in a company where your culture and your values line up, work with people that you respect. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. Don’t be afraid to get fired.

Career path principle: you're never too good for a paycheckPrinciple #4: You’re never too good for a paycheck

And then you’re never too good for a paycheck. That may sound the antithesis to what I just said, but you know, I remember … and my family … we were very fortunate. My dad worked hard, he was very successful, but he made us all get jobs in the summer. I was like, “What?” We lived on Lake Champlain, I lived in Pleasantville, and I’m like, “I have to get a job?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” And so, you know, we went, we had summer jobs.

When I finished Bentley, I was thinking, “Maybe I’ll just come home and live in Vermont and I’ll go to Vermont Law School. I’ll figure that out.” So I called him, and he’s like, “You’re not coming home.” I’m like, “Really?” He’s like, “No, you have to go make a living.” And I just thought, “Wow, he’s right. You’re not too good for a paycheck.” So, that’s the other thing, is that work ethic around, you’re gonna work hard. You’re gonna work hard.

Career path principle: work on something you lovePrinciple #5: Work on something you love

My last one is, work on something you love, because you’re doing it … I mean, I work 12, 15 hours a day. So, I better love what I’m doing, because there’s a lot of other things that I could be doing, so, really try to find something that you do love. And by the way, if it isn’t technology, and someone tells you that’s where you should go, don’t do it. Don’t do it. If you want to raise horses in Virginia, then you should do that. So, that’s kind of my career advice.

Check back for more with women in technology leaders at


Copyright © 2018 Oracle. All rights reserved.

This transcript may be edited for readability.

SmarterCX Team
The SmarterCX team is comprised of subject matter experts, writers, artists, designers, and CX professionals who are dedicated to building a smarter customer experience. by Oracle is the destination for professionals who are building the next generation of customer experience. Here, you can find breaking news, in-depth analyses, expert insights, and useful tools that will empower you to think and work progressively.