Channel surfing

Channel surfing

When HP solution partners organisation director, Paul Robson, gets out of bed in the morning, he knows he's going to a job he enjoys. He caught up with ARN to discuss working with HP partners, his passion for teaching and surf lifesaving.

What was your first job?

I was a delivery driver for Pizza Hut. I did that for about a year-and-a-half while I was at university.

What did you study at university?

I did a Bachelor of Commerce with a double major in marketing and finance. After the Pizza Hut job, I started tutoring in accounting and economics.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

I left university on a graduate program with Philips Electronics. I spent some time in their mobile phone, consumer electronics and IT division, before I exited the program and entered into a full-time product manager role looking after Philips monitors.

How did you progress to where you are today?

After spending about five years at Philips, I joined Compaq as a professional workstation product manager, looking after that product range. I cycled through a mixture of sales and marketing roles and spent some time doing SMB and channel marketing. Then after the merger with HP, I was the channel marketing manager. I left that role about three years ago and was the group category manager for the HP personal systems group, which involved PCs, notebooks and workstations. In May I become the solution partners organisation director for the channel organisation.

What do you like about your job?

Diversity and working with partners. I really enjoy getting out of the office and spending time with partners, getting to know their business and their people, understanding what makes their business profitable and what drives it.

What is your approach to the channel?

My strategy for HP's channel is in three areas - driving growth with programs and activity engagement around growth; consistency and predictability around our go-to-market strategy; and driving and growing co-dependent relationships where success is mutually dependent on both us and our partners.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

To me it's about consistently achieving objectives professionally and personally and that is where I get my motivation. It's about being able to look back at my career in the industry and be very happy about what I have learnt and the relationships I have built.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?

I think it's one of the best industries you could work in. I'm reasonably laid back. We have product sets that are constantly changing and product roadmaps that probably change the fastest in the market place.

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

VoIP represents an opportunity for resellers to drive revenue growth in an area they were somewhat excluded from in the past. There is an enormous opportunity coming out of the thin client part of the market and everything is moving to blades such as storage, servers and PCs. Datacentre centralisation represents a significant opportunity for partners to look at not just selling a product, but selling a solution that starts with the datacenter and infrastructure and moves out to the client and the services wrapped around that.

What is the main focus for HP over the next year?

We have got our focus on driving everything blade - such as blade PCs, servers and storage. We have also got a big focus on growing our new imaging technology, Edgeline, which is an ink-based multifunction device. From a channel perspective, it is all about driving growth, consistency and mutually profitable relationships.

What do you do when you are not at work?

My wife is due to have our baby in January, so a lot of time has been spent preparing for that. But when I can get away, I spend as much time as I can at the beach. I have been a surf lifesaver for about 16 years and still manage to get down there once on the weekend to patrol and do all that kind of stuff.

Do you like gadgets?

I like gadgets that benefit my life.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

My father ran his own business and my uncle also had his own business. I grew up going on family holidays listening to my father on the phone doing business and I always thought I would end up doing something similar. It is something I enjoy doing. But if I didn't do this, I would love to teach. I have trained kids in surf lifesaving and I like the sense of satisfaction you get out of teaching someone how to do something.

What is your biggest ambition?

On a personal level it is about experiencing as much as I can, never saying no, and being willing to try something different and experience as much as I can. I want to maintain the momentum in life and never get lethargic or complacent. Professionally, it's about making sure that when I get out of bed everyday I am going to a job that I love which is about achievement, contributing, personal and professional development and enjoying life.

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