Juniper Networks channel director for A/NZ, Brian Allsopp, has a positive outlook on the IT industry and the direction it is heading. He spoke with ARN about his career history, using Facebook in business and his passion for France, fine food and wine.
What was your first job?
My first job out of school was as a trainee surveyor. It paid well and was outdoors, but I was working with a fairly boring bunch of people. I always had a passion for IT so I quickly worked out that was the industry I wanted to be in.
When did you start working in IT?
I joined the IT industry 22 years ago when I started managing a couple of Commodore computer stores. I progressed into the business side of the IT industry a couple of years after that with Imagineering.
How did you progress to where you are today?
My last role with Juniper was director of distribution for Asia-Pacific. I was based out of Sydney but managed our tier-two reseller business as well as 34 distributors across Asia, where I spent most of my time in China, Japan and Korea. The challenge was in understanding the different cultures and the different business environments, but it's surprising how readily some business best practices transcend cultures. That led me back here to Australia to the role I'm in today.
What do you like about your current job?
I like building up a team from scratch and the diversity of running enterprise and channel sales teams. The excitement also comes from the growth - there are not a lot of IT companies experiencing strong growth at the moment and managing and building a business that's going through good growth is always fun and challenging.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
From a work perspective I've been very fortunate that the industry has allowed me to take on roles that have required strategic change or were almost startups within mature businesses. In my last four or five roles I've had the opportunity to change the business direction dramatically or substantially grow the business.
What companies have you worked for over the years?
I've worked for various IT and networking companies mainly around channel and enterprise. I have a strong background in distribution and I ran my own IT reseller business for about four-and-a-half years. I've also spent time in the user market as well, at Deutsche Bank, so I've got end-customer, VAR and vendor experience.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
That's a hard one - there are obviously things wrong with elements of the industry but on the whole it's a great one to be in. I've worked with and learnt from a great bunch of people over the past 22 years, so it's been good to me. I can't see too many negatives.
What will be the next big thing in the industry?
In the short term, I think we're going to see a proliferation of video on-demand services, including technologies such as IPTV. While these are generally viewed as consumer technologies I think business will embrace them and will deliver customer facing and internal applications based on video.
In the longer term, we will see the younger generation who have grown up with Facebook, YouTube and other Web technologies come into the workforce. They will drive a whole wave of new Internet development. This will happen at a consumer level and it's going to bleed into mainstream business pretty quickly.
How can you see those technologies transitioning into businesses?
We're in an environment at the moment where consumer demand is pushing and driving business requirements. Employees are going home and using all these different technologies and they're coming to work saying "we want this kind of functionality". As the younger generation comes into the workforce this cycle will accelerate quickly.
What is the main focus of your company for the next year?
Juniper's main focus from an enterprise perspective is about coverage and driving demand in an enterprise market. We're in the position of being the challenger in the marketplace. We've got good credentials from the service provider markets that we come from, so it's about execution and building our brand and focus with enterprise customers.
What do you do when you're not at work?
I have two children, a home that seems to be constantly in need of renovation, and I like to travel quite a lot. Food and wine play a big part in my life, so entertaining friends consumes any other spare moments.
Where are some of the places you have travelled to?
Last year I travelled internationally probably 30 times, mainly for work, but I did take the opportunity to take time out. Over the past two years I've traveled mainly in Asia, and spent a fair amount of time in Europe prior to this. On a recent holiday I had the opportunity to drive around France for three weeks, which is spectacular in summer.
Where is your favourite place?
It'd have to be the south of France. I was lucky enough to be at the Cannes film festival a couple of years ago. It was a pretty exciting place with fantastic food, wine, and atmosphere.
Do you like gadgets?
I'm not a big gadget guy, I still handwrite notes at a meeting and a Blackberry is probably as far as I go in terms of handheld gadgets. Probably my weakness, if I can call it that, is around home theatre and digital media technologies. I've just built myself a home theatre system and that's an area I invest a lot of time and money into.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
A chef or a stockbroker. I think a stockbroker because they have this unbelievable lifestyle, or seem to, and a chef because I always had a passion for food.
What is your biggest ambition?
At a personal level I'd like to challenge myself outside of the IT industry. I'd like to own a nice restaurant in the south of France.