Let the games begin

Let the games begin

Lenovo's David Nicol talks about expanding its partner network, the fluidity of the IT industry and the transition from student to parent.

What was your first job?

While I was at university, my first job was in the luggage department at David Jones. I still appreciate a well-designed suitcase.

What did you study at university?

I studied Commerce at the University of NSW, both marketing and accounting. I spent one summer at an accounting firm and decided it wasn't for me, so I proceeded down the marketing path and joined IBM as a marketing graduate.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

I'd had an interest in computers through school and university, so when I saw an ad for IBM recruiting graduates I applied. I was successful as a marketing graduate, and I've been part of that organisation ever since.

How did you progress to where you are today?

After my first stint in marketing I spent a couple of years in channel sales, looking after some of our resellers and distributors. I then spent a few years in product marketing, firstly as the ThinkPad product manager, and then managing the product team. A real passion of mine is launching new products into the market, as well as assisting our sales team and channel partners to sell our products. I spent a couple of years looking after our NSW state government business, selling to users, as well as working with partners. I moved into my current role about 18 months ago and am now responsible for small business and consumer sales as well as our business partner strategy and programs.

What do you like about your current job?

I love being a people manager and developing my staff. I love working in a vibrant and fast-growing business and launching into new markets. We're currently launching into the consumer and the workstation markets and recently announced plans to enter the server business. I also enjoy being part of growing a new brand - coming from such a large and well known company like IBM, it is an exciting new challenge to introduce Lenovo to customers.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

I led our successful desktop bid into NSW Department of Education a few years ago, which is now one of our largest customers and is the largest buyer of PCs in the country. Because of that win I was awarded IBM's top sales award, which is called Golden Circle. My wife and I got to travel to Bermuda as a reward, which was a fantastic experience.

What was Bermuda like?

It was an interesting place; it wasn't what I expected at all. It was fairly cold, so there weren't a lot of beach activities, but as a British colony, it had a really interesting history and it was somewhere I wouldn't have travelled to normally.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?

Every now and then I wish the pace would slow down for a day or two, but then again the constant change in technology is one of the things I love about the industry.

What will be the next big thing in the industry?

The next big thing will be a revolution in mobile devices. Technologies including solid state drives, new battery technologies and LED backlighting for displays is going to significantly change the size, weight and battery life of notebooks.

What is Lenovo's main focus for 2008?

2008 will be a huge year for Lenovo, firstly in continuing to grow our brand and leveraging our sponsorship of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, which will be something special. We will be entering new markets, such as the consumer space, with the launch of our new IdeaPad and IdeaCentre products, which have already received very positive feedback. We're entering the workstation market and providing our resellers with an alternative product to sell there. We're always looking to expand and grow our Lenovo partner network through increased support, co-marketing and incentives.

Do you get to go to Beijing for the Olympics?

Unfortunately not. We will have some business partners and customers going over to the games, hosted by our general manager. We have a channel program at the moment based on sales achievement and some of our partners will win a trip.

What do you do when you're not at work?

Until November, I would have said completing my MBA, but that's finished now. A week after I finished the MBA my second child was born, so now I've got two young children and most of my spare time is spent with my family. Unfortunately, nappy changing wasn't part of the MBA curriculum.

Do you like gadgets?

I love using the latest technology, just to keep connected, but also to trial the technology that we're selling our customers. I go everywhere with my notebook, though when I'm on holiday my wife is less than impressed.

What did you want to do when you were younger?

At one point I was considering getting into the medical profession and following my father, but given I felt queasy at the sight of blood I decided it probably wasn't the best option for me.

What's your biggest ambition?

As a West Australian, I'm a big West Coast Eagles fan; I'd love to be at the MCG when we win a grand final.

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