Talking about convergence

Talking about convergence

VExpress national sales manager, Karl Batchelar, grew up in New Zealand and spent time in London before settling in Sydney 15 years ago. He caught up with ARN to talk about his telco background, the voice and data distributor’s plans this year, and convergence.

What was your first job?

My first job was a paper run. I completed it each morning before school. My first full-time job was a golf apprenticeship – I left that to attend university.

How did you progress to where you are today?

After deciding the world of professional golf was not for me and having completed my Bachelor of Commerce degree [in information systems with marketing and management], I decided to travel and work overseas. I left New Zealand in the late 1980s and was based in London for three years. I got transferred to Sydney in 1993. I did various jobs in London, including work with the London Underground and Chevron Oil. The information systems taught me a lot of discipline and topology of things, but I never got to use it much in London. I wasn’t interested in programming and technical nitty gritty.

How did you end up in ICT?

After I came to Australia, I started working in the telecommunications industry and fell into mobiles. My first job in this field was with Telstra’s MobileNet business. I started in customer service managing a team, then got an opportunity to go into sales, where I picked up a lot of experience working in indirect channels. I had six years with Telstra, then got poached by Panasonic to head up mobile channels. Panasonic had some really good mobile phones, but because Nokia and, to a lesser extent, Motorola, had been in full force for some years, it found it difficult to get a good grip in Australia. I then moved to Vodafone, as the company needed a state manager in Victoria. I only lasted in Melbourne eight months – I’m a beach person, and didn’t get that in Melbourne. So I moved back to Sydney and worked in Vodafone’s channel business, as well as helped launch its mobile content offering, Vodafone live!. I then spent two-and-a-half years managing Nokia’s field and retail business, and joined VExpress 18 months ago.

What do you like about the current job?

I enjoy the market we work within and the challenges that brings with it. It’s great to work in an environment where there are huge numbers of sales opportunities and where the technology is rapidly evolving. I am fortunate to both enjoy my role, the company I work for and I love the people I work with – both within VExpress and our business partner channel. It is not often those elements come together and I count myself very lucky. It’s also been an absolute joy to still see margin in place – mobile phones are a great business, but it’s dog eat dog in that space.

What do you dislike about the industry?

Those in the industry who compete on price alone – they add no value whatsoever and the market on the whole loses out as does, ultimately, the customer. You can sustain good sales without also providing good service for only so long before your customers turn to the competition.

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