Sprinting to market

Sprinting to market

ShoreTel's Jamie Romanin on building up the VoIP vendor’s Australian presence, getting a balance, and competing in triathalons

What was your first job?

My first job was refereeing basketball as a junior. I played basketball for about 15 years as I was growing up. Refereeing was a great way to earn a little pocket money and still be involved in the sport I loved.

How far did you take your basketball career?

I played representative level in Victoria, and was playing or training seven days a week. I think playing competitive sport as a youngster drove the passion and competitiveness I have today.

How did you end up in the ICT industry?

One of my first work experience jobs was a two-week stint at Telstra. I enjoyed it and ended up going back and taking up a part-time job there in my late teens. I've been in the industry ever since.

How did you end up at ShoreTel?

I joined ShoreTel in January. I came from Avaya, where I was SMB channel manager for ANZ. ShoreTel's managing director for South-East Asia [Tony Warhurst], who I've worked with in the past, came to me late last year and presented me with an opportunity to help expand the company's presence in this region.

What do you like most about your job?

The industry is an exciting one and fast-moving, so there's no time to get bored. The challenge of building the ShoreTel brand is also exciting. I love being out in front of customers and helping to educate them about technologies available.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

I worked for a company a number of years ago called Zultys Technologies, which was a small US-based start-up. The company quickly launched across many other regions around the world, and in a matter of three years, ANZ grew to be one of the most profitable regions for the business globally.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?

The industry is so big and there's lots of competition through many and varied products. Although competition is healthy, it can lead customers down a dark track, where at the end of an extensive evaluation they are unclear about what product is best for them.

How do you see technology impacting on our lives?

The likes of mobile technology, email, IM, video, and consumer VoIP services have changed the way we communicate on all levels. In regards to business, the days of work/life balance are gone. There aren't many people I know that work a 9am to 5pm day, then switch off their laptops and phones, go home and forget about work for the rest of the night. Today's technology is helping us integrate our personal life into our business day and our business responsibilities into our personal life.

What's the next big thing in the industry?

Unified communications and mobility. These will give us the ability to integrate the different forms of communication we have today and make them available on a single device of choice.

What's ShoreTel's main focus for 2008?

Our focus this year is building brand awareness. The challenge is establishing the same credibility we hold throughout the US, our largest region of presence, by continuing to build a loyal customer base. We're currently in a growth phase, so our focus is very much about recruiting new channel partners to take our solutions to market.

What are you doing to build your channel?

There's a lot of partners calling us at the moment. They've heard about the company and the technology - in the US ShoreTel is a fairly fierce competitor to the top players in the IP telephony market, so after hearing about us over there they contacted us wanting to become partners here. We're also targeting different partners through our distributors, and we're holding a number of seminars for people to come along and learn a bit more about the technology and products.

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

I enjoy spending time at the beach with my wife and puppy dog. Basketball disappeared from my life a good nine years ago and for the past three or four years I've been actively competing in triathlons. Anything from Olympic distance triathlons to Half Ironman distance. I look forward to competing in an Ironman event some time over the next year or so.

Which is your favourite leg of a triathlon?

It's a question I get asked often and it's really hard to answer. I enjoy the whole experience. Some people do have a preference for one discipline within the sport because they've come from that background. I haven't come from a running, cycling or swimming background and I have no particular strength in any area, so I really love all three.

What's your best result?

Ninth at a local sprint series race. For non-professional athletes like myself that train up to 20 hours a week outside of work hours, it's about where you can place in your age category.

Do you like gadgets?

I like having all the latest gadgets and technology. I find them fascinating, and that's part of my attraction to the industry - I get to see new technologies first-hand before they become available to the public.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I always loved horses and saw myself as a jockey or a horse rider, but my parents told me we didn't have enough room in the backyard for a horse, so that didn't come to fruition.

What's your biggest ambition?

To continue to progress through life and be happy with what I'm doing, both personally and professionally. My family is very important to me - my wife and I are considering starting a family over the next few years, which is extremely exciting.

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