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Marching into mobility

Marching into mobility

Brightpoint Australia managing director, John van Rensburg, trained in the army, then as a printing press manager, before getting into IT and telecommunications. The self-confessed Apple Mac techie spoke to ARN about his business ambitions and love of golf.

What was your first job?

I was a signaller in the South African army including radio communications. When I left the army, I learnt to run a printing press as a trade.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

As a youngster, I had an interest in computing. My high school teacher told me I could never work with computers because I was hopeless at maths, but through the printing industry and then the transition from traditional lithography to digital, I came into contact with the Apple Mac. A company I worked for in Johannesburg in South Africa bought a Mac and taught me how to layout pages and the whole printing process. I ended up getting into the telco industry by accident. I’d moved to New Zealand and was running an Apple reseller’s technical service centre when WAP browsing on a mobile phone was introduced. I wrote an application for real-time billing for our field service technicians for the Nokia 7110. Following this, I was employed by Clear Communications in New Zealand as their propeller head/geek supporting mobile applications and data.

How did you progress to where you are today?

Clear Communications was a Brightpoint customer in New Zealand. When Telstra acquired the business, Brightpoint’s boss, Bruce Thomlinson, approached me to run New Zealand. I was interested in technology, the mobile phone industry and telecommunications, so I jumped at the opportunity. I ran the business there for over three years.

What do you like about your current job?

I’ve only been back in Australia for a few months and every day is a challenge. The telco industry is a moving, dynamic industry and there’s never a shortage of opportunities. What I like most about my job is working with wonderful people – I’ve got a great leadership team here. Felix Wong, who ran the [Australian] business before me, left behind a fantastic company.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

Having the opportunity to work for Brightpoint has put me into so many different markets and I’ve had the opportunity to not only fix, but also build businesses. I’ve seen Brightpoint flourish in Europe and the Middle East and have a positive impact at a financial and personnel level. Anybody can run a business and get involved in a market place when it’s good, but the sign of good leadership and good management is when things are heading south.


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