Profile: Cycling the services circuit

Profile: Cycling the services circuit

What was your first job?

Dave Stevens (DS): My first job was as a teller with the NAB. I really disliked it as it was too bureaucratic for me, so I left shortly after and became a pro-cyclist for 3-4 years while I put myself through University and a Computer Power course.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

DS: I always wanted to work in the IT industry, so I enrolled in the appropriate training courses. When I completed them, I landed a job with Melbourne Apple Reseller, Alpha Research. Alpha was a great company to work for. I was employed to set up an IBM PC sales and service dealership inside its Apple dealership and it went gangbusters, becoming one of the largest parts of their business. I picked up a lot of business fundamentals setting up the PC sales and it really opened my eyes to how to generate profit. In the process I got my Novell CNE and started doing network work. You could say from then I was hooked.

How did you progress to where you are today?

DS: From Alpha Research I then got 'sponsored' into my Certified NetWare Instructor certification by Digital Equipment. I worked there as a contractor for about four years and relocated to Sydney around 1990. I also contracted for Bay Networks and a number of other education companies. In the process I got my Master CNE, MCSE, Bay Networks Router Expert and Instructor certificates and a bunch of other qualifications including Citrix. I would work six days training, plus three nights, and also took on a bunch of contracts writing VB code and assisting a number of companies with network issues and maintenance. The three companies I helped went on to become Brennan's first three clients, and I am happy to say eight years on, they are still clients.

I was effectively working more than 100 hours a week for a number of years. What this allowed me to do was build up the finances I needed to start Brennan and also the contacts with clients, employees and the industry.

What do you like about your current job?

DS: The ability to control the way we develop as a business: the direction that we set for our growth and also the huge responsibility that we have to our clients to ensure we deliver on our service promises. It's also the promise to our employees to ensure we deliver on our development commitments.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

DS: Building the Brennan business from nothing into a high quality services provider and a responsible member of the IT general commercial community.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?

DS: The attitude many IT companies have of putting their own best interests ahead of the client's. This is often manifested in the way that companies sell inappropriate technology just to get a sale. This is especially prevalent in the SMB space.

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

DS: For me it will be the emergence of ubiquitous and true broadband wireless networks which will allow people to do a meaningful amount of work whilst on the move.

What is the main focus for your company this year?

DS: This year we will do another 2-3 acquisitions. We are still growing strongly organically - we'll do 40- 50 per cent organic growth this year but that's not exciting enough for us. We want to add at least 50 per cent to top-line sales revenue. We also intend to grow our new Software Development and Business Transformation divisions that we launched late last year.

We believe applications development will be a key growth area for us in the mid-market. Another important focus this year will be to consolidate the company structure after more than doubling in size in 2006. We have pretty much overhauled our leadership team, putting in place a team of experienced general managers as well as investing in more training for existing staff.

What do you do when you are not at work?

DS: My passion is car racing. I got hooked five years ago when my wife shouted me a weekend at the Porsche Drivers Challenge training centre at Mt Cotton in Queensland. After that, I took to competing both locally and internationally. Currently I race a Ferrari in the Australian GT Championships. I have also started competitive cycling after a break of more than 15 years and won my first race on the weekend! Family also takes up a large part of my time, with three kids to entertain.

Do you like gadgets?

DS: I like them as a bit of fun but find they rarely deliver the productivity gains they claim they will.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

DS: A businessman. Guess I got my wish.

What is your biggest ambition?

DS: To drive in the Le Mans 24-hour race, ride the Tour de France course (as a spectator), and run a global business. I still have 30 or 40 years up my sleeve so I should be right.

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