Gadget king has a Bright future

Gadget king has a Bright future

Brightpoint's Felix Wong talks to ARN.

What was your first job?

Working in a Hi-Fi shop. I started doing part-time work experience there when I was 15 and also worked during university holidays. That position taught me two things: how to sell added value and how to negotiate. After university, my first full-time role was in sales at IBM. It had a great graduate training program. The emphasis was on selling value, return on investment and cost justification. Post-IBM, together with my partner, I started Advanced Portable Technologies (APT), which was a boutique mobility distributor. In the early 1990s, we were the first company to import PC Cards into Australia and were also first to distribute wireless data solutions.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

It was always my goal to be involved with computers. I studied electrical engineering and computer science at university. From there, I had the chance to work in IBM's IS shop, programming as a part-time job during my final years of university. I found this a bit dry, but I really enjoyed selling. When I left university I took up a sales and marketing role and focused on getting into IBM's corporate sales. I used to want to have my own business and grow it to a reasonable size so that I could sell it. My next ambition was to run a substantially larger business, which I'm doing now. As I have a young family, I'm keen to have a good work/life balance. Rather than trying to conquer the world, I want to run a business where I can make a significant impact to both the business and industry, while still ensuring I spent quality time with my family.

How did you progress to where you are today?

At the end of 2000, I sold APT to Brightpoint. I continued to run the business separately until we merged in 2002. After that, my role evolved into running the newly combined business. It was a steep learning curve. My boss (Bruce Thomlinson) provided much support and guidance to teach me the Brightpoint side of the business. Now after three years, I can say I know the business pretty well and have plenty of ideas about where it can go.

What do you like about your current job?

I like the people I work with - vendors, suppliers, customers and work colleagues. I really enjoy the pace and rapid change that comes with the distribution environment. You can never stand still; technology will just pass you by. This makes success even more satisfying. I also like the mental challenge and the fact that I be at the forefront with technology.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

I don't believe I've achieved it yet. The acquisition and merger with Brightpoint was exciting and big, but I believe within Brightpoint I have an even greater opportunity to accomplish more. We are a global organisation with more than $US2 billion in revenues and move more than 42 million devices per year across 15 operations. There are many areas of the business I would like to get involved in.

What will be the 'next big thing' in the industry?

Digital convergence, and the merger of consumer electronics and home appliances with computer products. Things such as video/music streaming into the stereo/TV, for example. All media -- on demand, standalone Web cams, media servers and DVB-H - will be built into computers/phones/PDAs. We will have smart homes and appliances with everything wirelessly integrated. While we are starting to see some of these technologies, many are still bleeding edge and don't work seamlessly. This area will evolve over the next five years, and transform what we define as IT.

What do you do when you are not at work?

I try and spend as much time as I can with my kids and family. I really enjoy listening to different types of music, and experiencing fine wines and foods.

Do you like gadgets?

Do I like gadgets! Anyone who knows me calls me the gadget king. Technology is my passion. I love seeing it implemented into a product that works well, especially when it looks good and is easy to use.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I always wanted to work with computers. I thought they were almost limitless in what we could do with them. Having a passion for gadgets led me to complement this with technical tertiary qualifications.

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