Running ahead of the pack

Running ahead of the pack

LAN Systems' Tony Heywood speaks with ARN.

What was your first job?

Selling watermelons on a beach in Greece, but my first real job was as an audit trainee. It's the pre-cursor to being an accountant and I'm about the furthest thing from an accountant you could imagine. I lasted about 18 months. I knew the writing was on the wall when I failed an open-book exam, mainly because I'd never opened it!

How did you end up in the IT industry?

I was in the NSW Police for about three years before deciding I didn't make a very good policeman. I travelled for about 12 months and then spent two years in construction industry sales before getting a job selling fax machines and mobile phones for Stott & Underwood. That was when mobile phones weighed about 8kg.

How did you progress to where you are today?

I spent about four years working in the paging industry before a seven-year stint in corporate sales with Optus. They had just floated and the SingTel acquisition was happening when I went to work for LAN Systems in 1999 as telco business manager. It had seen an opportunity to work with telcos, which was difficult at first because we were ahead of our time but we made it work. I then became NSW/ACT state manager and we had our best year ever in 2001 while the industry was having its worst. I went back into the telco industry with Comindico for about 14 months before returning to run LAN's Cisco business in November 2003. It's been happy days ever since.

What do you like about your current job?

Constant change; no two days are the same. If it's not the competition keeping you awake then it's how to please vendors and resellers. I really enjoy the people management aspect. I have a team of more than 20 people and I enjoy seeing people get the opportunity to become more than they already are.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

Becoming the largest Cisco SMB distributor in Australia. We have gone from 25 per cent market share to more than half - we are currently at 54 per cent. Ingram Micro coming on has made us more attuned to what our specific market is. Cisco is driving Ingram into the SMB market and that in turn changes a little of what we do. We need to focus on the customers we want to win and make sure we give them the service they need. We have rapidly broadened our vendor suite associated with Cisco and are looking for customers who build solutions rather than retailers who buy and sell boxes.

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