On the distribution march

On the distribution march

Ingram Micro sales director, John Walters, is responsible for more than 100 vendors and several thousands of resellers. He spoke to ARN about starting in the army, juggling long-term initiatives with short-term goals and his passion for rugby.

What was your first job?

It was chipping Bathurst Burrs for my father on our family farm for $0.20 a day. After going to school I went to the Royal Military Academy at Duntroon [ACT] and ended up spending 17 years in the army.

What part of the army were you in?

I was in the infantry, so I spent a lot of time travelling around. I visited Townsville, Sydney, Canberra, went overseas and back to Sydney.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

When I left the army I joined TNT, the transport company, and spent about five years there. I was completing my MBA at the time and looking at where the next big industry was. I saw the IT industry was up and coming and I was keen to get part of the action. I couldn't get a job because I didn't have any experience so I set up my own consultancy company. That's how I got into the IT game - one of my clients was LAN Systems with Scott Frew. I ended up having four and a half years with LAN Systems.

How did you end up where you are today?

LAN Systems was sold to the Westcon Group and I got tapped on the shoulder by the managing director of Tech Pacific, Kerry Bailey. I thought it was a good opportunity and challenge, so I went over there and worked with Kerry, and then Ingram Micro when it bought Tech Pacific. I've been there for more than six years now.

What do you like about your current job?

I really enjoy working in the channel. I've got responsibility for roughly 100 vendors and trying to get those vendors into 6000 active resellers on average on a monthly basis. To do that I've got to do a lot of work though all kinds of channel people - within vendors, from the reseller community, from the media and obviously my team at Ingram Micro. It's a great buzz to be able to juggle competing priorities and achieve an outcome.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

Being part of the sale of LAN Systems was fantastic. The reinvigoration of Tech Pacific and getting that [business] to a position where we sold to Ingram was also extremely rewarding. More recently I also found setting up the Solutions Group at Ingram Micro very rewarding, as it was something slightly different for Ingram Micro in Australia.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?

With the frantic pace of the IT industry, coupled with quarterly targets, it's possible to miss the opportunity of driving more strategic, longer term initiatives, which I'd prefer to try and work towards.

How do you balance shorter and longer term opportunities?

I think there are a lot of good initiatives, and we try and do them over a period of time, but as we embark upon one project or initiative, obviously some short-term goals might come up. Then it becomes a constant juggle between the short-term objectives and the medium to longer term ones. Getting that balance right is the important thing to achieve overall, but sometimes that can be a bit hard with the frenetic pace and short lifecycles of our product sets.

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