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In the Hot Seat: Rocket man

In the Hot Seat: Rocket man

What was your first job?

Johnson Hsiung (JH): Working as a safety analysis engineer at a nuclear power plant in Taiwan. After getting a Masters degree in Nuclear Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1985, I went straight back to Taiwan. Computers were a hobby of mine and I was running IBM mainframe for most of my work. I knew the PC industry would explode.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

JH: Changed careers following the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. It was not an easy decision because I had to give up six years of training. Looking back now, it was the best decision of my career. I soon landed a job as an international sales representative for Continental System Inc (CSI) which was part of Acer Group at that time. CSI merged back into Acer during 1989 and soon I was expatriated to the head office of Acer Europe in Dusseldorf, Germany, to helping that part of the business. I left Europe for Australia in 1991 after helping its peripheral business to treble.

How did you progress to where you are today?

JH: I joined Acer Australia as a product manager in 1992. While at Acer I also briefly headed up the retail sales team, mainly dealing with Harvey Norman and Dick Smith. In 1996, I moved on to set up the components division within Acer Australia focusing on developing the local market for Acer monitors and other components. I started this project as a one-man band but Servex Australia was soon set up to accommodate the fast growing components business. In 2001, Acer Group broke up a few manufacturing groups from its core global marketing business. I had the choice of running Servex as part of Acer Australia or going through a local management buyout to establish a totally independent local IT distributor. Although it was a more uncertain path, it didn't take me long to decide it was time to strike out alone as a distributor. In July 2001, Bluechip Infotech was born.

What do you like about your current job?

JH: Staying successful in an industry that changes so quickly is a constant challenge. There are always lots of opportunities if you manage them well but there are also plenty of deadly traps if you make bad decisions. Products keep changing, prices keep dropping and you must improve operational efficiency to keep your head above water.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

JH: Setting up a distribution business from scratch that now records revenues of more than $120 million. It continues to stay profitable each and every year.


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