IDG Connect: C-suite career advice: Philip Mustain, Mobolize
Published on IDG Connect | February 25 2020
Name: Philip Mustain
Job Title: CEO, Co-Founder
Location: Santa Monica, California
Philip Mustain’s high tech career has ranged from managing operations, sales and marketing to founder and CEO positions for startups that, under his direction, were sold to Microsoft, Sprint and Canada’s Videotron, Inc. He was founder and CEO of FrontBridge Technologies, which was acquired by Microsoft. As COO at Wireless Holdings, Inc., he drove the company to an acquisition by Sprint. He was also the owner and General Partner of Bay Area Cablevision, which was sold to Videotron.
What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? Follow a path that you enjoy and brings you satisfaction. I think I learned that from a high school teacher.
What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? Go into law as the country always needs lawyers. I got that one from an uncle.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in technology? Tech was just beginning when I started my career. IBM and Univac were battling it out over should punch cards have round or rectangular holes. (IBM won.) I would say the most important thing for anyone to do is to spend time learning about yourself no matter what field you choose. What does it mean to go into tech or anything else? Does it fit what you want to do, how you want to contribute to society and will it bring you pleasure in life? It’s important – spend some time learning about yourself.
Did you always want to work in tech? Not really. It was a new and exciting field and I felt it was the best place for me to excel in what I really enjoyed which was sales and marketing.
What was your first job in tech? My first job was on the ground floor selling electronic adding machines to small businesses door-to-door. This gave me the opportunity to grow my knowledge of technology and products to where I began selling computers to corporations. That led to software and networks, so I have experience from the ground up. I also took a year off from selling to work as a programmer so I could appreciate and understand both technology and technology-focused personnel.
What are some common misconceptions about working in tech? That you work alone and that you’re an individual contributor. Those concepts are wrong. You’re always part of a team, whether it’s a software development team, product management team, or an incident management situation. Not only are you always part of a team, but you also represent the overriding team – that of the company.
What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? It can be a very long path with lots of twists and turns and multiple roads and paths you don’t anticipate. Some of those are u-turns where you have to redirect your efforts and re-energise your approach. Don’t get discouraged if that is really your goal. Obstacles will appear.
What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? Luckily, I have reached my career objectives, some would say many times over. Having led multiple startups and bringing them to a success has been very rewarding.
Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? Yes, I believe I have a full and rewarding family life. I always take time for vacations and holidays. I don’t think anyone can be truly successful unless they take breaks to re-energise and reflect. I always encourage my staff to take their vacations and to truly take them without work interruptions and appreciate life’s other rewards.