Making solutions sing

Making solutions sing

Ingram Micro's Stuart Ellis talks about playing the right tune in business and kicking a goal

What was your first job? My first job was with the Roads and Traffic Authority, which in those days was called the Department of Motor Transport. I worked in registration history doing plate checks for the police and registration-related activities.

How did you end up in IT? Jodie Rich had the Imagineering business very well established and saw the need to set up an offshoot distribution company - Tech Pacific. I was recruited in part of the set-up in the late 1980s. Graham Pickles was heading up Tech Pacific at the time and hired me to run a team of in-bound sales telemarketing staff. We had an interesting agency called Microsoft which we couldn't move much of because Windows hadn't got a roll on in those days. There were products like Microsoft for x286 AT platforms, Lotus, WordPerfect, and Ashton-Tate DB, which was the primary DOS-based product at the time. I had held sales and managerial roles in other industries, mostly for smaller organisations. Tech Pac was my first exposure to distribution and wholesale.

How did you progress to where you are today?

I've been in IT for about 20 years, with 15 years of those at Tech Pac and Ingram Micro. In that timeframe I've worked in different capacities. I've done sales management and account management, as well as run business units within the company. In the mid-1990s I took over a piece of business that had been quite unsuccessful, which was the high-end of Hewlett-Packard's HP9000 series running their Unix platform. It was much more of a database, application-driven business. We managed to double revenues in that business year-on-year through to the late 1990s. By then it was the most profitable agency inside the business.

Establishing a specialised model inside a broad-line engine like Tech Pac, and even today inside Ingram, is an enormous challenge. It's a fundamental shift in the way of thinking about business. You also have that shift of perception in the market as to what your company is about. You also need to work around the systematic challenges of having a specialised, value-add model inside a volume, broad-line engine.

What do you like about the current job?

We are influencing the direction of Ingram in-country, and that is challenging and interesting. We have a powerful product portfolio to leverage and drive into the market. It's an enjoyable part of the business, and our current recruitment of vendors is adding to that. I also work with a passionate and talented group of people who approach this opportunity with forward thinking and initiative.

Any dislikes in the IT industry?

A couple of things - buzzwords and spin. I worked in the music industry for a number of years and feedback for me was noise coming out of a microphone or monitor on the front of a stage. I also find the industry spin challenging.

Tell us about your music background - is that what you always wanted to do?

I played a lot of sport and music when I was younger. To see myself as an IT professional down the track was nowhere on the radar. I worked in bands from a young age, playing drums, and was in working bands for 20 years. On the sports side, I played grade for my club in the Sutherland Shire and played representative for the district, then state level for my age and national championships. I still play A-grade football.

Who do you play football for now?

I play for Cronulla in the local old boys' comp. There's always a level of intensity, it's just a lot slower.

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