Rounding up the channel

Rounding up the channel

CA channel director, Klasie Holtzhausen, on horses, market strategies and career achievements

CA's Klasie Holtzhausen

CA's Klasie Holtzhausen

What was your first job? I was a professional horse trainer. After school, I went and trained horses for a year back home in South Africa. I’m a country boy and grew up on a farm, so I love that lifestyle. I also studied agriculture and got my agriculture degree. But I realised it’s a difficult and uncertain future, so I went through the traditional army thing, which you have to do in South Africa for two years.

How did you progress into IT? I got to a crossroads where I had to make a decision. I could go with my heart and train horses, and not know what the future holds – I didn’t have a farm to fall back onto, so it was always going to be tough. Or I could go in another direction where there was more opportunity for success. So I went into IT. Through a friend of a friend, I was able to get a role as a mainframe operator.

When did you relocate to Australia? I’ve been here 10 years. In South Africa, I went through various roles and didn’t stay in operations for very long. I moved into a systems programming role on the networking side for a large mining group. Then I went to a large retail company doing the same thing, before moving to more technical specialist and server desktop and LAN management environments. I became a manager managing that type of environment for a retail customer, then decided I needed to go into vendor land. I took a sales role with EDS selling outsourcing agreements and managing customers, which helped me to migrate into account management. That was my last role in South Africa. I came to Australia without a job, not knowing what the future held. I’d never been here before, but thought rugby, sunshine and barbeques – how bad can it be? When I arrived, I took a contract as a manager at the Department of Education and Training, where I was responsible for email and that infrastructure for all schools in NSW. I did that for about a year before joining IBM as a sales person selling services. Then I moved into the channel for six-and-a-half years, in the software area. From there, an opportunity came up with CA.

What you like about the current job? I’m very passionate about the channel and I think it’s a very exciting place to be. I don’t think it’s the easiest job, as you have to manage both ways – back up internally, as well as partners outside the organisation. I enjoy that challenge and building up skills and experience in the channel. I also enjoy the variety. There are different channel models and routes to market and each has its own value proposition and characteristics. It’s not the same thing every day and you have to think about achieving the best outcomes each time. It’s a very broad role. In the current economic climate, do you think more vendors are interested in engaging with the channel? Absolutely. Under the leadership of our new country manager, [Brenton Smith] I’ve seen that as well. We are integral in our route to market in this region and we’re getting a lot more involved.

What do you dislike about IT? At a personal level, it’s the long hours and the strain that has on the family. Outside of that, it’s always changing and it’s quite interesting.

What’s the biggest achievement of your career to date? There’s been a few – the first sale I made for EDS was in a new division and broke new ground for the company as well as me. Getting that over the line was quite a challenge and I had to be creative and responsive. That first sale was a big achievement. Locally, when I joined IBM’s services organisation, I sold a solution to a German company in Germany that had local representation, but we did a lot of video conferencing. That was a good achievement.

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