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Life in the fast lane

Life in the fast lane

General manger for Siemens Enterprise Communications, Eric Hampel, has been responsible for the vendor's channel business in most regions of the world. He recently told ARN about communicating to SMEs, three hot trends to look out for, and a love of fast bikes.

What was your first job?

As a pupil I was always ready for new ways to gain experience, so I was doing things like dropping fliers and selling ice cream. My first significant sign up was to look after SAP users on a helpdesk in Germany, which was my first time in an IT department. At the time it wasn’t even called IT though, it was called organisation and information.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

During my work experiences I was always attached to business processes and tools and so on. So never even having worked in many different environments I always felt related to my work.

How did you progress to where you are today?

I’m not Australian so to an extent I have some international coverage. I was looking after channel setups in around 20 countries for my company, and at the end I was characterised by colleagues and management as somebody who loves to be challenged, and manages to identify a target and drive teams towards a mutual target.

What are some of the places you’ve worked?

I’ve worked across the globe – I’ve been located in Munich, and Zurich; I’ve looked after channel setups in Latin America and Central America; and have been involved in some projects in the US. I ended up being APEC regional manager, where I was looking after indirect channels in around 10 countries, which basically led me to look after the business here in Australia and New Zealand. We’d fixed a couple of things locally here and management basically just sent me back and said “well, why don’t you turn around the rest as well?”.

What are some of your travel highlights?

We just managed to stay a couple of days in the Northern Territory, which was very impressive. Let’s put it like this – wherever I am I try to feel at home and comfortable and then I try to experience the country, instead of spending all my time in office spaces.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

In Zurich, I was heading a 20 million Euro business unit, back in the early phases of VoIP, so achievements around developing that business have been big for me. Locally, I would say we as a team have managed to refocus and therefore turn around our business structure in Australia and managed to achieve a 15 per cent growth quarter on quarter in the SMB space from the start of this calendar year, which is faster growth than the market, so therefore I see that as a positive sign.

What would you say you dislike most about the industry?

The habit of describing fairly easy advantages in an extremely complicated way. If you want to bring advantages of unified communications as an example to the SME space, the IT industry doesn’t do itself any favours by creating misunderstandings or simply not getting the message passed on to customers. I include myself in this – we should all be very keen to make sure the advantages that a technology brings to an organisation are well understood by the customer.


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