One CEO shares his best piece of advice for recent graduates

You’ve probably heard it before: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

That’s why Gary Smith, CEO of Ciena, a broadband and telecommunications company, says his one best piece of advice for recent college graduates is to recognise the importance of relationships, and how they can make to break your career.

In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of The New York Times, Smith says the most important lesson that he has learned during his career in leadership positions at companies like Intelsat, Cray Communications, Inc., and now Ciena is: “Relationships really matter, and you need to get that right, both for your career as an individual and as a future leader.”

Smith tells Bryant that he thinks the people you work with and build relationships with is the biggest determining factor of your success. “I think a lot of people pay attention to the technical stuff and the hard stuff about whatever discipline they’re in,” Smith says. “But it’s the softer side that will get you every time if you’re not paying attention to it.”

Read the full New York Times interview here.

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