Smooth sailing

Smooth sailing

General manager for NEC’s national channels and strategy, business solutions group, Anthony M Carilla, is charged with reinvigorating the sleeping giant. He spoke to ARN about his long history in telecommunications, why the IT industry sells itself short and a love for boating.

What was your first job?

My first job was working at McDonalds making hamburgers at one of the first outlets on George St, Sydney.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

By default really. I worked for my parents who had an ice cream manufacturing business. When they sold that business I found myself without a job. Philips had released a range of small telephony systems and I was asked to join the company to sell them. I did this on pure commission and found it particularly hard. The ironic twist in this is I now work for NEC, which bought out Philips’ telecoms business.

How did you progress to where you are today?

From selling small key systems I started to work with bigger organisations selling complex call centres, which were quite new at that stage. I worked my way up into corporate and government environments and was able to win some significant contracts. I joined Optus when it first started in 1992 within the corporate and government division. I worked my way through and into a new division of Optus as it evolved, which was wholesale.

From there I bought into a corporation myself and had a stint in the land of business ownership for a number of years and did quite well. After I sold out I started working with Ericsson communications. My role was to provide an overlay capability to the senior account managers involved with some of the call centres and telecommunications technology. From Ericsson I was headhunted by Lucent/Avaya to open up a channel within Telstra. The idea was to see if we could open up an enterprise channel to bundle Lucent/Avaya products. Avaya was spun off from Lucent and I stayed on for approximately 18 months before rejoining Optus as general manager for the Optus Business channel program. From there we undertook a major restructure of the business and fused that channel program with Optus’ SMB division. I left Optus as a result and landed at NEC.

What do you like about your current job?

Working for a brand that is totally undervalued in the marketplace as far as I’m concerned. NEC is an organisation with enormous capability – the company has been in business for over 100 years – but I think we take it for granted. I was approached by head office to see if I could take on the national channel group as a new group going forward, and try and turbo charge the program we’ve had in the market for 20 or 30 years. This is the great challenge and what attracted me to NEC.

What is the biggest achievement of your career so far?

Leading a dedicated group of people and being part of a team committed to achieving something is an achievement for me.

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