Running a tight ship

Running a tight ship

Datacom's Clark Hobson on developing the company in Queensland and how he came to be a Sydney Swans supporter

What was the first job you ever had?

Getting up at four in the morning as a twelve-year-old to cycle into town and roll newspapers for a paper run. I did that for a couple of years before working in a service station at a time when you still had to pump the petrol, clean windscreens and put air in the tyres. When I left school I joined the Navy as a seaman officer.

What attracted you to a military career?

Growing up in a small North Queensland town it was a chance to get a university degree and move into the larger world with an attractive lifestyle. It's a reasonably risk-free environment with three meals a day and somewhere to sleep. I served for eight years.

What did you enjoy about it?

You get to do some pretty cool stuff like flying off the back of a ship in a helicopter and going down in a submarine. I was part of a two-man boarding party that arrested illegal fisherman off the north coast and I was only about 20 [years old] at the time. You are given a lot of responsibility at a young age.

Why did you leave?

We were doing a really arduous sea program at the time I decided to go. I wrote a resignation letter but held it until we completed the job so I could be sure it was for the right reasons. It was really about my future because I could see the lives of people around me who had been in longer and it wasn't for me. There was a degree of wanting to earn more money and also wanting more control. But if my son wanted to join up I wouldn't stop him. I still recommend it as a fantastic start to your working life.

How did you get into the IT industry?

I had a computer science degree but don't think that had a lot to do with it. I was moved to a shore base after resigning and, while I was there, we got our first computers. I was appointed as the IT manager, which effectively meant calling for external support when it was required. The Internet was still something you read about in Time magazine but the role got bigger over 18 months as we got more computers and that led to a job in the private sector with CSC.

How did you progress to your current position?

I did four years with CSC and learned a lot across project management before moving into a sales role, which gave me a real grounding in how sales worked. I then secured a job with Datacom Systems when the company first came to Australia. It had won a contract with P&O and needed a service delivery manager. It was hard work for the first 12 months, because we were setting up an outsourcing contract from scratch, but the business grew and I was able to ride the wave. I became general manager of service desk and technical support for NSW. When the opportunity to acquire NetOptions came up in Brisbane, I was in the due diligence team and was eventually asked if I would like to run it.

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