ComputerCorp's Rick McWhinnie talks to ARN
What was your first job?
I worked with Telecom Australia in accounts. I spent my first seven years out of school there, finishing up as an account director.
How did you end up in the IT industry?
By chance really. My uncle got me the job at Telecom, as he worked there as a technician. I was actively seeking work and being in computers and that environment, I saw plenty of opportunity. It certainly was a good time to go into telecommunications because deregulation was coming up.
How did you progress to where you are today?
It was a lot of optimism. I left Telstra because I saw the need for Australian companies to take advantage of the competitiveness in this environment and expand globally. It made sense to gain more of an understanding of global markets, how they work and operate and how they make revenue. I went to Worldcom and from there moved on to become the regional sales manager for Sprint. I looked after the multinational businesses and setting up operations locally. From there I joined NEC as a NSW sales manager and moved to the state manager a few months later. Then I came to ComputerCorp.
What do you like about your current job?
I've worked for many different companies and the one thing I find noticeably different with ComputerCorp is the management team. We have a flat management structure and are all on the same page. Our CEO is very perceptive of market needs and in turn we all are, but he allows us the freedom to operate within our market. Being a small company, we have very flexible decision-making processes and a strong, sound business direction. On top of that I want to be more closely aligned to the shareholders and accept more accountability for our results. This is the testing ground for any aspiring manager to pit themselves against.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
I'm quite surprised about where I am today for my age . I've experienced a lot of things in a very short time. I've also gotten married and had two children. I think I'm 10 years past what I really am and a lot of people say I look like it too. I think my biggest achievement has been keeping to my personal plan of gaining the knowledge I needed to get to the place I needed to be. Fortunately, all of the staff I have mentored in the past have been very successful because of my management style.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
The shortage of skilled resources. I think there is enough in the market to share around - it is just a matter of finding the right resources.
What will be the 'next big thing' in the industry?
A lot of media content has increased the necessity of storage and converged solutions. I also think the mobility side of things is going strong, although there is a sense of how long things will be able to last.
I think the big thing is consulting services businesses. There will be increasing demand in the local market as well as on a global scale for these skills, particularly in SMB. This will bring about acquisitions and converged solutions across all IT infrastructures.
What is the main focus for your company this year?
We want to grow significantly over the next two years. We intend to develop a strong services arm, but we also want to service our existing customer base with products and solutions. In the next two years we expect to get our share price up to $2. In time, we see our Sydney business growing to a $100 million business. At the moment it is a $30 million business. We have a strong growth plan and execution is already underway. We also want to become the employer of choice.
How do you plan to grow the company?
The growth will be a mixture of acquisitions and organic growth. We shape our business and strategies around what the market wants and where it is heading. Because we are a small organisation, we don't have the pressures of different staffing budgets allocated to different staff, and we review our strategy every three months.
What do you do when you are not at work?
I have two beautiful children and spend a lot of my time with them. I also play guitar with friends in a band and muck around. When I say muck around I mean muck around. I don't want anyone from Guns N' Roses calling me! I do a lot of research and reading into various things like art and music.
Do you have a name for the band?
We don't have one; we are like the lost souls, so I guess you can call us that. We don't have any gigs - we just get together on weekends and have a good time.
Do you like gadgets?
I haven't got the patience for them. I use the typical things like notebooks and a Palm, but as far as anything else, no. I would say I'm still in the 70s: most people have plasmas but I've still got a box.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
My first ambition was to be a garbage man. I used to enjoy a lot of athletics when I was eight years old and thought that would be a good way to keep fit. The other thing I wanted to be was a comedian. I had a couple of goes, then met my wife and became serious.
What is your biggest ambition?
I think my biggest ambition is to enjoy life. I don't want to get bogged down and sweat the small stuff. You've got to have a strong will and belief in yourself and take one step at a time. I would also like to be a leader of an organisation or even own a business. I enjoy investing and spending money, so who knows what the future holds.