Putting on your thinking cap

Putting on your thinking cap

APC's Pacific region channel manager, Bart Mascorella, believes in giving people room to manouevre and succeed. In this interview, he spoke about his career history, the need for more creative thinking and the importance of partners in a vendor's business model.

What was your first job? I started working when I was 14. Actually, it was even earlier than that - I was a very enterprising young kid. I grew up in California, where a lot of kids would go and do odd jobs. I think I was about nine when I started charging $1 to rake leaves or mow lawns. My first real job was when I was 14 - I started working as a dish washer in a restaurant.

How did you end up in the IT industry? When I was 19 I joined the US submarine force. At the time I was torn between going to university because my family wanted me to, and feeling like I was being driven too much in somebody else's direction. So I ended up joining the navy, studying advanced electronics and spent two years on a submarine.

Where did you travel while in the navy? I went across to the eastern seaboard [of the US] and did my electronics training in Virginia. Submarine school was in Connecticut and I ended up moving to Hawaii, where I lived for two years while I continued my training. That's also where I was stationed.

How did you progress to where you are today? I left the navy because it became a bit too institutionalised for me and I felt there wasn't enough creative thinking going on. I went back to California, which was in a recession, and applied for lots of jobs in the industry but couldn't find one. I ended up working in the plumbing industry for a while before I came out to Australia. My first job in the industry here was with Sperry where I worked as a technician in various roles for about four years. When the career progression didn't come about - I was young, ambitious and wanted to do a lot of things - I left and joined IBM in a similar role. From there I quickly started to find my feet in management roles.

What do you like about your job? I like the autonomy. I feel that if I come in and present valid ideas and people are interested in them we can achieve something. I don't feel like I'm constrained.

What is the biggest achievement of your career? Probably the best example I can talk about would be assisting a person who worked for me at IBM. He was in the service team but wanted to become a sales executive. In those days IBM said you couldn't move from services to marketing. I came back and said "why not?" It took us three years but we just kept chipping away at it until he finally got into that area. He moved from that to a senior executive role, a consulting position and then started his own business.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry? I'd say it would probably be the pace at which it moves. I don't think it allows people to think long term, or to think strategically enough. We're too focused on the tactical, the numbers this week, the numbers next month, and the numbers over the quarter. There aren't enough people in the industry thinking about where are we going to be in five or 10 years' time.

What will be the next big thing? The key issue we're dealing with is energy efficiency, and I think our customers are dealing with the same thing. The fundamental issue with datacentres at the moment is the cost of running them. So the number one concern for customers in the short term is going to be how to reduce the cost, carbon footprint and impact of the datacenters on their business. Less than 1 per cent of the energy that goes into a datacenter is actually used for computing today.

What is the main focus of your company this year? Energy effi ciency, without a doubt. What we're trying to do is help our customers understand how to address those issues and we're looking at continuing the development of technology solutions for that. Our enterprise solution was developed 4-5 years ago before the industry seemed to be overly concerned with this whole issue. But now we're taking the leap into fourth, fifth and sixth generations of datacenter technologies, and energy efficiency is going to be the thing that we're going to be focusing on going into next year.

What do you do when you're not at work? I build things. My father was a carpenter and a cabinet maker, and I also like to work with my hands. I also enjoy cooking. I'm not a qualified chef but I've owned my own restaurant for a couple of years.

What kind of food is your specialty? Mediterranean, some Asian food, modern Australian - the whole fusion thing. My son is a qualified chef so the bug has been in the family for a long time.

Do you like gadgets? No, I'm not a gadget person. I like things that make life more productive, but I'm not into gadgets. I live in the mountains on the outskirts of the bush, so I'm more of an outdoors person.

What did you want to be when you were younger? I wanted to be an astronaut. I think I've moved into this business because I was good at science and technology when I was a kid and was always very interested in things like that. I ended up getting into electronics back when you could still understand electronics.

What is your greatest ambition? My biggest ambition is to be given the opportunity to build a model that would truly integrate partners into the business, because without that integration and ownership of the outcome for both parties, you can't scale the business the way you really want to. Most businesses create enormous overlaps in sales operations because there's never that absolute trust between the partners that it will still be in place tomorrow. My ambition outside of work is to build another house.

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