In the here and now

In the here and now

Stuart Hendry turned around networking integrator, Logicalis, before it was sold to IBM. Now he runs Cisco’s commercial business for Asia-Pacific. And the customers who used to be his peers never tire of pulling his leg.

What was your first ever job?

I did a degree in electronic and microprocessing engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow then joined a company called Case Communications as a software engineer. I was with the company for seven years, initially in Watford doing software writing, project management and pre-sales before moving to Hong Kong.

How did you progress from there?

I came back to London in a sales role then left to join Siemens Network Systems, where I was promoted into sales and regional management. I was then headhunted from Australia to join Logicalis as a sales director and moved to Sydney. We were mostly doing networks, servers and desktops. A year later I was promoted to managing director, which was during the downturn and it was quite tough at times. There was an underlying part of the business that was good but other parts were struggling so we had to do some major reorganisation.

We halved company revenue to $54 million in less than three months and returned it to profitability within a year by getting rid of non-core business, including the servers and desktops, and repositioning the company from enterprise to mid-market. We had been competing in all segments, which was OK in the boom times, but when the market got tough we needed to pick an area to focus on. IBM, Dimension Data and Telstra were so successful in the enterprise market and it was difficult to compete. Moving into mid-market gave the company a niche. We went from making heavy losses to being strongly profitable and then IBM bought the company to facilitate a move into IP telephony, grow the managed services business and provide a platform to sell into the mid-market.

How long were you out of the industry?

I took a couple of months off and worked as an independent consultant for a while before joining Cisco in October 2005 to run the Asia-Pacific commercial business out of Singapore. I joined as a director and have since been promoted to managing director.

Given that you have three children, was the move an upheaval?

I had mixed feelings because the job was exciting and my wife, Helen, has been with me to Hong Kong, back to England and then to Australia so she was used to it. For the kids it was a bit of an adventure and the schooling is good in Singapore. But leaving Australia was pretty tough because I think it's the best country in the world. No matter what way you cut it, it's hard to beat it for quality of family life. For me the move was about career opportunity but I still have a house in Australia and I see myself retiring there.

What do you like about your job today?

You get to work with a lot of incredibly bright people at Cisco that you can learn from. Sometimes when you are the managing director of a subsidiary, especially one that's far away from everywhere else, you're on your own and have to make all the decisions. The other thing about working for an industry leader is that new strategies can have a profound effect on the market, which can be quite fulfilling.

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