How do I make my way to the top?

How do I make my way to the top?

After starting at the bottom, Sam Rutley, managing director at e-commerce agency PushON, shares his experience of moving up.

Success comes from doing something that you love and are passionate about. My passion lies in developing websites, which I have been doing since I was thirteen, and I used this love to inform my career choices. From completing a degree in computer science and business management, to now holding the title of managing director at a successful e-commerce agency, I’ve certainly come a long way.


During the 10 years I’ve been with PushON, I started at the bottom and have now risen to the top. But, throughout the journey, I’ve learned a few important lessons. Here are my top four tips for those looking to move up through the ranks.


1.    Seize your opportunities


In my younger years, I was always focused on just being an SEO consultant. But, during the early years at PushON, the business was taking on increasing amounts of website development projects. Although, I wasn’t initially part of the development team, I got involved to help where I could and the business was happy to listen to my suggestions. Recognising that there were opportunities to progress beyond my current responsibilities, I took on a hybrid role, working as an SEO consultant and as part of the development team.


It is important that the working culture of any business doesn’t prevent the team from progressing in their roles, as there will always be someone with a hidden talent that can make that company perform better. Being able to progress, learn and have my voiced heard has certainly helped me progress my career and I am always on the lookout for those qualities in others.


2.    Focus on delivering quality


There are those who turn up to work and do a good job, and then there are those who turn up wanting to be great and go that extra mile every day. I am certainly one of the latter as I ensure that none of my work is substandard.


I have always been extremely focused on delivering quality results, along with speaking out and putting my ideas forward to help achieve greater success. In doing so, I played a crucial role in helping to select Magento as PushON’s primary e-commerce platform back in 2009. My determination to get the best results and the amount of input I was having on what technologies the business should be adopting made it difficult for the directors at PushON to do anything other than promote me. I was fortunate in that the culture of the business recognised, and still does, that everyone has a voice and it should be heard.


3.    Embrace the difficult


Business is never just a bed of roses. No matter how well you plan, how well you resource and how well you deliver, there will always be problems. Choose to face those problems and find support from the right sources to help deal with them. Without accepting that problems need to be dealt with, there is every opportunity that the issue will grow within your business and will begin to spread and impact everyone. It’s a cliché, but every failure is an opportunity to improve. It is better to accept that you may fail and learn from those mistakes, but just try not to make the same mistakes twice.


4.    Not everyone is the expert they claim to be


Learn to trust yourself. By all means, do not be shy to seek wise counsel but understand that people may appear to have all the answers, but often they actually don’t. As you begin to take on leadership roles, you quickly learn that the buck stops with you. Occasionally you will be wrong, it’s largely inevitable, but being wrong while achieving some momentum is better than stagnating – you won’t learn anything if you don’t make changes.  


Remember that success is a very personal thing. Sometimes success is enjoying your work, doing it well and seeing the results, and then getting home to see the family on time, and that is a fine thing to aspire to. Ask yourself ‘what does success look like for me’ and then explore how you can get there. That’s how you’ll get to the top.