Managing director of VMware Australia, Paul Harapin, was one of the people responsible for building the vendor's local presence from scratch. He spoke to MATTHEW SAINSBURY about frustrating copy cats, the joy of working with a good industry ecosystem and finding inspiration in James Bond.
What was your first job? My first official job was in child care as a 10 year old - I'm not sure how qualified I was but somehow I got into looking after even smaller kids. I was pretty entrepreneurial and found lots of ways to make myself money as a kid. My first real IT job was IBM straight out of university.
How did you end up in the IT industry? I did an international finance degree at university and wanted some interview practice, so I interviewed with all the merchant banks. But I also sat through an interview with IBM and the guy did a fantastic job of selling the company. The interview process made it sound like a really interesting organisation with lots of opportunities and it turned out it to be great for that early part of my career.
How did you progress to where you are today? A lot of hard work, a lot of good networking and a little bit of luck. My time in IBM set me up with a lot of good mentors, including Alan Fudge who had joined a small startup company, Tivoli, and asked if I wanted to take a look. Over a three or four month period he convinced me to take a serious look at the opportunity and when I did I thought it could have legs. I never foresaw that it would be the company that it is today, but nonetheless it was a fantastic opportunity.
What do you like about your current job? The people of VMware are fantastic - here in Australia we've got a great bunch of very creative individuals that work extremely cohesively as a team. When you're building a culture and looking for certain types of people that can fit in you want people who not only to do their jobs but are very collegial and supportive of the rest of the team. The other thing that I really like is that because VMware has built such a great ecosystem in the industry, including partnerships with a range of organisations from small startups to the big hardware and storage vendors and software areas of content management and security, we pretty much work with everybody.
What is the biggest achievement of your career? I'd have to say being recently appointed as the first vice-president in Asia-Pacific for VMware is my career highlight. Prior to that starting and building up Tivoli into a pretty powerful systems management player across Asia-Pacific.