Unifying vendor and channel communications

Unifying vendor and channel communications

Express Data's David Peach talks to ARN

What was your first job?
My first job was at McDonald's whilst I was at school. I also had a job selling raffle tickets for the Spastic Centre, which involved cold calling people at night. I actually started my full-time working career in the hospitality industry: I was a chef through my 20s, and also had some management roles in hospitality. I had one of those classic career changes when the boom times were happening and decided that IT was a good area to get into. I found hospitality was a great job whilst you are young, but it was something you wouldn't want to do for your entire career.

How did you end up in the IT industry?
In 2000 I crossed over and re-skilled by undertaking a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) course and a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) course. I used to muck around with computers at home, and thought I should turn this around and work in IT. I had a couple of technical roles - firstly for NEC computers and then Express Data (ED) in the configurations centre. ED then gave me an opportunity to move away from a technical role. I'd discovered I really wasn't that technical pretty quickly.

How did you progress to where you are today?
ED was my entry into the channel and I haven't looked back since. I have had four roles in six years. Each one progressively gave me exposure to other areas of the business and more responsibilities. I moved into product management, dealing with the vendor side of the business, and gradually expanded my responsibilities there, which has been great. I think I found my sweet spot and I really enjoy it.

What do you like about your current job?
The fast paced side of it. We have a lot of things happening on the vendor side and all of our resellers need our support in many different ways. We need to come up with unique solutions for them as well as each vendor. I also like the opportunity to work with teams and to see people grow and develop. I oversee six departments so I really get the chance to take part in that team building.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?
Overall I would say being able to change careers and find a spot I liked pretty quickly.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
There is a lot of short-term thinking in IT. Many organisations and people tend to think in quarters, not long-term. Sure, we need to turn things around quickly and react quickly - and there is nothing wrong with that - but sometimes people think that if they do this marketing today, they'll get results tomorrow. It's not always like that.

What will be the 'next big thing' in the industry?
Unified communications is a pretty hot topic but I think it means different things to different people. At the moment everyone is trying to work out where it is at. We distribute Cisco, Microsoft, IBM and a number of other vendors. We are in a good position to work out what it all means and how resellers can benefit from different technologies. Tied into that is the whole Web 2.0 and collaboration trend. For resellers, vendors and Express Data, the challenge is how we take that social networking model and make it work in business so you can still maintain security and compliance processes and policies. There is a lot of opportunity there, we've just got to find the best way to do it.

What is the main focus for your company this year?
Hitting the numbers is always the first focus. If we do, it means we have grown at a level where we can keep investing in the business. In our business we use a balance score card where we focus on hitting the number, but we also look at how we are servicing our resellers and suppliers and, more importantly, how we are developing our staff. Ultimately if we do all of that right, we will hit that number.

What do you do when you are not at work?
At the moment I'm really focused on getting my balance right. It's easy to let work take over. I'm playing a lot more golf than I used to and also spending more time with family and friends. I have a nephew that has recently made it onto a rugby team and I have been getting involved with that.

What is your best ever golfing achievement?
Every time I play golf, I can never get everything right at the same time. Sometimes I can putt well, other times I can drive well, but I can never get it all together. That is part of the challenge and the fun of it I suppose. As long as I improve a little bit each time, I am happy. About six weeks ago I chipped it in out of the bunker - two bounces and it went straight in. So I'll be claiming that as my best shot for a while.

Do you like gadgets?
I was one of the first people to run out and set up a wireless network around the home. I just got a new Blackberry, which I love. I've also bought a Windows Vista media centre to plug everything into - the PC, TV, sound system. I haven't been too successful at it yet.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
It's a cliche but I thought it would be great to be a cop. It was never a true ambition but as a little kid, I had a policeman's uniform.

What is your biggest ambition?
Personally, it's to stay happy and have a positive impact on everyone. It's about getting it all balanced. Work-wise, I love dealing with partners. My ambition lies within the channel for sure, so I think it's going to be about working well with teams, seeing people develop within those and getting results through them and our partnerships.

Company Snapshot
• Express Data came out of the Com Tech Group and celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. It is owned by South African integrator, Dimension Data.
• The IT and communications distributor is headquartered in Botany NSW and has 300 staff across ACT, Victoria, Queensland, SA and WA.
• ED was recently honoured as one of Hewitts Best Employers 2007, and Cisco's Asia-Pacific Distributor of the Year 2007.

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