What was your first job?
Tom Piotrowski (TP): It had nothing to do with IT. I completed a university degree in Automotive Engineering in Poland and landed an exciting job in a research and development bureau doing one-off, unusual bus projects. I remember designing a "desert caravan" - a luxury double-decker bus with a lift taking passengers to the upper floor with gold fittings. The order came from one of the Sheiks in Saudi Arabia.
How did you end up in the IT industry?
TP: After moving to Australia in the early the '80s I got hired by BHP Engineering for a materials handling engineer position. The very day I started my job, the first IBM PC computers arrived in the office. I got hooked on using them right away. BHP was at that point in time introducing its first Computer Aided Design (CAD) system. It had chosen the solution form, ComputerVision, which was then the leader in developing those systems. Again, I was close to computers. I got spotted by a US vendor and offered a position to manage sales into manufacturing accounts. The move to ComputerVision marked the beginning of my new career in the IT industry.
How did you progress to where you are today?
TP: Simply out of frustration. My second employer, Sun Microsystems, offered me a position managing sales accounts into its VAR channel. This was at the end of '80s, which was a golden time for Sun and other Unix vendors. Third-party solutions were pouring in, but not many people in Australia had the courage to pick them up. My job was to grow the channel because it was not there. I was surprised to see how little entrepreneurial spirit was around. I quickly realised the opportunities so I tended my resignation in late 1989, bought a fax machine and rented a desk in a serviced office a few floors above Sun in Chatswood. In no time, I was signing my first suppliers and everything after that was history.
What do you like about your current job?
TP: There is no one above me although, having said that, I am responsible for steering the company in a balanced direction. It's about taking moderate risks but relying a great deal on previous experience.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
TP: Making many people happy working for Unixpac and helping them advance their careers into much bigger enterprises.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry?