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More than a memory

More than a memory

Kingston regional manager A/NZ, Vaughan Nankivell, on his international ride into IT, working in Nashville and playing off a scratch golfing handicap

What was your first job?

After I left high school I worked as a teller for the Bank of New Zealand.

How did you progress into IT?

I stayed with the bank for a few years before transferring to the finance department at Air New Zealand, then moved into their reservations sales team and then to Los Angeles to work in their national sales team. It wasn't hard convincing the Americans to come and visit 'down under'. While I was working at Air New Zealand I assisted setting up a Novell network. I started thinking it was the way I wanted to go in terms of my career, so I bought my first computer and went from there. My first foray into IT was working in field sales in LA for a distributor of electronics called Hallmark Electronics. I started working with Kingston back then as they were one of the brands we had.

How did you end up on the vendor side?

It was a massive progression. I'd been in LA for a couple of years around when the Rodney King situation and LA riots occurred. We had a nine-month-old baby and many of our friends were moving. The recruitment areas at that point were Seattle, Denver or Nashville. I chose Nashville, which was a very good move, particularly for a young family starting out. During that time I worked for a reseller heading up a systems program and did my engineering certifications and Novell CNE training.

We moved the family back to New Zealand in 1996 for personal reasons and I took a general manager's role at an electronic commerce company in Auckland doing document management services around EDI transactions. I moved back to the US for an eight-month contract in Arizona, then in 2001 returned to New Zealand and eventually landed at Tech Pacific, where I was brand manager for Kingston and a couple of other products. A year ago, Kingston made a big change. Half the Australian distributors were reporting to Asia and the other half to the states, so it was very fractioned. One of the guys managing Australia retired and my position was created so we had a general manager looking after both countries. We have also unified our distributors to work through the Taiwan team.

Was it very different working for a distributor and a reseller?

The business issues are very different. When you're a vendor you're so far removed from that customer, as you are when you're a distributor. But a reseller has to work with the customer - it's their lifeblood. That's what I bring to the job at Kingston - I have a passion for the end customer. Working for a reseller taught me to listen to what end customers are going through and become more solutions-focused.

What do you like about your job?

The variety. It is unusual to have a regional manager based in NZ and responsible for Australia. I appreciate the diversity across the territories.

What's the main focus for Kingston this year?

There are a number of key things we've been working on, which many of the other vendors are also talking about. Virtualisation is getting bigger. We've been a technology partner with VMware for a long time globally and co-authored technical whitepapers on virtualisation. The consolidation of servers and adding more virtual servers into the environment requires an overhead in the memory space. We're skilled in how to scale those systems up when organisations are deploying a virtualisation solution.

Solid-state is being touted as a catalyst for change in the memory market - are more disruptive technologies coming our way?

I think this is a transition year. Next-generation DDR3 memory uses less voltage and generates less heat, which means you won't burn your lap using your notebook. It's the same in the server room - users will get an even greater return from this crossover. There will still be a price premium on DDR3 this year, but system rollouts from leading vendors like HP will drive the change.

Solid-state will be adopted - there's no question about that - but there's a huge gap between the cost per megabyte of solid-state versus hard disk.

What's the biggest achievement of your career?

It was more of a personal journey, but making the decision to go back to school five years ago. I finished my masters in management and really enjoyed it - it was a research-based degree and I did a lot of interactive work around Kingston and our business with Ingram Micro.

Do you have any dislikes in the industry?

As a sales engineer, I dislike hype and people jumping on things just so they appear to be saying the right things. The green issue is one example - a lot of people are reacting to green computing because it's a feel-good, but organisations need to look at their own backyard first.

What will be the next big thing?

Sixty-four-bit computing. We're going to get there. The technology has been there on the processor side, but you need to have a combination of hardware and applications to drive take-up. I think we're seeing that now.

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

I spend most of my time golfing. My handicap is an eight and the desire is to get down to scratch in the next year or so. I have teenage boys now and spend time with them travelling, fishing and so on. I also love to cook.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Something related to flying. My grandfather, father and brothers went into the military, but I didn't.

What's your biggest ambition?

My ambition changes. Early on it was to be responsible for the kids - now it's to ensure the boys I've raised are fine men. Jobs are a way to make a living but it's not who you are. I had some good mentors who told me to keep the balance because the next generation is what it's all about.


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