Listening to motivational tapes on family road trips might be considered a somewhat extreme form of cultivating success but Alex Fala says it was an effective way his parents instilled in him and his sisters a drive to succeed; without crossing the line into being “pushy.”
Everyone says how important their parents are in their upbringing and that’s especially true for me.”
Gaining a Rhodes scholarship in 2003 followed by time at international management consultancy McKinsey & Co, Alex was appointed CEO of cloud point of sale platform Vend in 2016 having previously worked for Kiwi growth companies Les Mills International, Trade Me and Orion Health.
Being mentored by some of New Zealand’s business elite along the way has played a powerful role in where he finds himself today.
“Andrew Grant, who first hired me into McKinsey, inspired me with his relentless optimism and drive to build world class Kiwi companies. Sam Morgan and Jon Macdonald welcomed me into the wonderful world of tech at Trade Me. And many, many others along the way have shaped my career by taking a few minutes to share their wisdom, or making an introduction, or inviting me to an event. Those little things can go a long way, and I definitely try to pay that culture forward.”
When it comes to his biggest learning in his career so far, Alex is unequivocal about being a lifelong learner.
“My biggest learning is to always be learning. We live in a time where most of the world’s knowledge is available in our pockets, in real-time, in every possible format (text, audio, video, interactive, etc).This is a privileged world but also a harsh one, where the slow and complacent are eaten by the agile and hungry.”
As the world gets faster, he also believes it’s important to spend time assessing the quality of your life and acknowledging the people around you; singling out his wife Clare for particular mention.
“I’ve learnt to be more patient in my career and have faith in ‘the process.’ I believe that good things come when I live my values, work hard to be the best that I can be, be alert to opportunities, and jump hard when they come. I’m still very driven, but avoid wasting energy on worry or living to others’ expectations. I’m human so that’s not always easy, but I try my best!
Moving from Wellington because he believed the business school at the University of Auckland was the best in the country he says the experience was everything he expected.
“As a student, I competed and collaborated with my peers. I soaked up learning from the faculty and occasionally argued with them! That exchange of ideas and drive to grow was exhilarating and a lot of fun.
The time at the Business School also opened up important career pathways for the fledgling young executive including his entrée to McKinsey – another early career break that was to be pivotal in making influential connections.
“Every opportunity in my career has built on the last one, and my time at the University of Auckland was a critical early step in that process.”