TikToker Jenna Hushka, who posts “corporate humor” videos on TikTok, posed a question to her followers that sparked a viral response from another user named Courtney on the platform.
In Hushka’s video, she asked, “What’s something you were not prepared for in the corporate world?”
User Courtney (@champagnec0c0) stitched the video and touched on an aspect pertaining to leadership in corporate America that had viewers in the comments section of her TikTok nodding their heads in agreement.
“This is specifically for the technology industry,” she says in the clip. “Now, for my specific field within tech, I was surprised that a lot of people who are in executive positions are there because they were employee number 10, 15, 20.”
She continues that a lot of people “have ascended to leadership not because they were the most competent at the job, not because they were the subject matter expert, but because they got in early.”
@champagnec0c0 #stitch with @jennahushka I probably shouldn’t be saying this out loud but….#techtok #blackintech #blackwomenintech #corporatetiktok #blackcorporatetiktok ♬ original sound – Courtney
Other users on the platform chimed in with responses of their own, citing that they too have been in situations where folks in leadership positions aren’t necessarily the most versed in their business’ products, or knowledgeable about the nature of the services that they’re provided. Some even mentioned that nepotism played a part, too.
“Facts! And they usually related to someone,” one user shared.
“Escpecially in startups!” another echoed.
“Emphasis on they know little to nothing about the subject matter yet their opinion will always outweigh the actual knowledge of an IC,” a user said.
“Very true. My old VP had no real experience in digital marketing but got in early and of course knew someone,” another stated.
“This was the case at the tech company I worked for. I asked an exec what was her leadership style and she couldn’t tell me a straight answer,” another wrote.
Others believed that the tactic was often used for ascending in the tech industry.
“And that’s the secret to getting rich and moving up in tech. Sad to say but true,” they wrote.
One of the most praised figures in the tech space and one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, Bill Gates, helped turn Microsoft into the $1.75 trillion company it is today. Bill’s mother, Mary Gates, was purportedly “instrumental” in helping her son land a deal with IBM which would put Microsoft in charge of creating the pre-installed operating system all of the company’s personal computers would run on. IBM was a verifiable tech empire, and even today remains one of the largest tech companies in the world. While the brand faltered in the ’90s, Gates’ deal with the computer monolith was in the 1980s during the height of its powers, which put the tech company on the trajectory it is on today.
In terms of executive leadership, however, some argue that having total knowledge of the inner workings of the technology being developed, granular coding, etc. is unnecessary and oftentimes harmful. Steve Jobs is often lauded as the most visionary tech CEO of all time, who reclaimed a company he founded and was ousted from. While Jobs wasn’t known as a tech savant by any means, his ability to understand what would captivate end users is what ultimately made him a valuable executive for Apple, and his work laid the foundation for turning the business into a $2.2 trillion enterprise.
However, it appears that Courtney is mostly discussing corporate nepotism and individuals “putting in their time,” which is a practice oft-decried. A 2022 Vantage Circle blog states: “The issue with nepotism is that it can destroy a positive work environment and demoralize employees…” as it ultimately denies growth to other valuable assets within the corporation. Top talent in a business can begin to feel undervalued especially if they’re going above and beyond and not rewarded in the workplace, while someone else is getting a raise/promotion/better position just because they’ve been there longer but aren’t necessarily demonstrating as much worth.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Courtney via TikTok comment for more information.