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A competitive spirit

A competitive spirit

Total Network Support's Oliver Lindsaar loves being the boss. He spoke to ARN about his transition into the IT industry, where he thinks things are heading and his love of car racing.

What was your first job? The first job I got paid for was rabbit trapping when I was 12 years old. I also rented out surfboards in the early 1960s. While I was at university I did some brick laying and drove taxis. I went into share broking and worked as a trader in the stock exchange and then I spent some time building yachts. I also tried my hand in the car business.

How did you end up in the IT industry? In 1969, the company I was working for at the time was one of the first to computerise their operations. I thought I must get into this area one day. In 1979, we computerised our car business. I then began working with a company called Data Force where I was employed to sell software, which I thought was interesting. One of the agencies we had was Wilson Computer Services, which is now known as WCS. I helped them start-up their Melbourne operation in 1983. PCs were coming out at that stage and I thought PC networks were the way to go. I started Total Network Support in 1992 and we have been gradually growing since.

What do you like about your current job?

It's interesting and the rate of change has been fascinating. There is always something new happening in this industry. Being the boss is easier than working for somebody else because I do not have to explain myself to anyone. I enjoy seeing people meet their potential, employing staff and watching them grow and achieve and then move on to better things.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

Becoming a Microsoft Gold partner when the vendor's partnership strategy was first announced. There are a lot of bigger companies involved in the program now. I like the fact that TNS has been around for a long time. I just get a sense of achievement and it feels worthwhile. I have seen a lot of people come and go in this industry.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?

What I don't like is the fact that people are job hopping all the time. This means they do not take long-term responsibility for their jobs. Continuity and responsibility in the long term do not seem to exist in most places.

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

The next big thing in computers is that you will have a screen that appears on the wall and you will talk to it and it will come back and do whatever you want. There are a lot of people talking about VMware, virtualisation and so forth, but I think this two-way commmunication between people and computers will be a big thing from a user perspective.

What is the main focus for your company this year?

Our attitude is that the client comes first. The most important thing we can do is keep that client relationship working because nothing is as important as the client's business.

What types of technologies will TNS focus on this year?

As Microsoft's current server technology has matured, the focus of TNS has changed from providing basic network infrastructure to enabling small business to have the same technology advantages as our enterprise clientele. Overall, TNS will continue to focus primarily on Microsoft technologies, with remote access and teleworker scenarios increasingly being utilised. We will expand our concentration on the deployment of complementary solutions to provide a higher return on investment for current and intended server installations, including a comprehensive disaster recovery offering for small to medium business, as well as increased integration of disparate solutions such as VoIP and remote management.

What do you do when you are not at work?

I go car racing. Back in the 1970s, my brother and I built car bodies; it was something we did on the sidelines when we were building yachts. I decided to attend a driver training day and put all my staff through a defensive driving day because they spend a lot of time on the road and anything that makes them better drivers is going to make their lives easier. I took an advanced driving course and rented a racing BMW and then got into some really advanced driving courses. I got a bit better at it last year and am now the second or third fastest on the tracks I have driven at. I have a lot of pleasure in beating people one-third my age. I drive a BMW 3 series in the E30 racing at the BMW Drivers Cup competition in Victoria.

What was your best ranking as a race car driver?

At the last meeting I was second overall. I have not yet won a race. It is pretty hard to win a race because some of the competition I'm facing has been driving race cars for about 30 years.

Do you like gadgets?

I used to be into gadgets but not so much anymore. I have a Blackberry, but I am one of those people that still finds programming the VCR problematic.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I really did not have any plans when I was younger. I just developed and had a good time. I played lots of golf and went skiing.

What is your biggest ambition?

I aim to double or triple our size in the next couple of years and I think the downturn in the economy will help us do that because we are a small organisation - we have the capacity to move quicker, which allows us to take full advantage of the changing market. What I would like to see when I am ready to quit is that my staff have the capacity to keep the company running.


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