A former Facebook exec explains what too many people get wrong about breaking into the tech world

Debra bednar clark photo
Debra Bednar-Clark, CEO and founder of DB+co. Courtesy of Debra Bednar-Clark

In order to get a lucrative, in-demand job in the tech industry, you need to be a techie, right?

Not exactly, says Debra Bednar-Clark.

Bednar-Clark, CEO and founder of career and leadership coaching firm DB+co., and the former global head of strategy and growth at Facebook, also spent time as Microsoft’s director of US market strategy and engagement.

In her work coaching professionals, she says that she often runs into two mistaken beliefs about careers in tech.

“I coach a lot of women considering careers in tech who have this perception you need to code, to be super technical to have a career in tech,” she told Business Insider. “Or, people in tech who think they need to leave the organisation to integrate their skills and passions into their work.”

However, she says, there’s room for people with a wide variety of skills in the industry, and at individual companies. “Tech companies today need individuals with all different skills,” she said. “Yes, programming is at the core of it, but careers in tech are billowing out in every discipline.”

Back when she was breaking into the field, she had this same misconception. Because she thought technical skills were the only ones wanted in the industry, she started her career coding, even though her true “passion” was for fashion.

“I think what’s unique about the tech industry is that there is so much opportunity to be autonomous and entrepreneurial,” Bednar-Clark said. “You have your day job, and you’re expected to meet those expectations, but if you have an idea, you’re fully empowered to bring that to life. The core of tech is very much test and learn. Whatever role you’re in — media, marketing research — you can leverage in way you feel is right for you.”

She says finding a place in the tech field that fits your individual interests and skills goes back to her best career advice: You are your greatest asset. “It’s important that you know who you are, so you can show who you are in the most authentic way,” she said.

NOW WATCH: Former Navy SEAL commanders: ‘There are no bad teams, only bad leaders’