What was your first job?
I worked in a warehouse at a promotions company, picking and packing orders for McDonalds and Coca Cola.
How did you end up in IT?
I worked at a creative promotions company while I was studying part-time. I spent the first six years of my career in tourism, having done a diploma in tourism. I went into a role looking after America West airlines in Australia, then spent subsequent years working for different tourism companies. My father was in the airlines, and I always had an interest in flying, so I went into travel. But there’s no money in it – there are great perks and you get to fl y around the world for next to nothing, but you don’t have the money to pay for the hotel when you get there.
In 1995, I travelled for a couple of years then came back, but within six months I decided to forget tourism. I joined Hutchison Telecoms as a sales person, cold calling customers, and spent years doing that. In the late 1990s, I left Hutchison Telecoms to take up a role as an account manager with Tech Pacific. Wendy O’Keeffe [now Westcon Group CEO] actually employed me. Within three months, the NSW state manager resigned, so I moved into that role.
How did you progress to where you are today?
After spending a few years at Tech Pacific trying to get the telco companies to pick-up IT and the IT resellers to pick-up telco with no luck, I decided to leave and start a company of my own that focused on delivering complete ICT solutions. I started Techhead Interactive in November 2000. I also had other investments, and was involved in a software company with Jack Newton, which I wound down.
What do you like about your current job?
Going to work everyday with a great bunch of people. I also have an awesome executive team that I enjoy spending time with. At Techhead, we have created a culture where there is no bureaucracy, no bull and everyone is equal. We haven’t got the Google fit-out yet, but that’s coming soon to our next office.
What’s the biggest achievement of your career?
Building Techhead to be one of Australia’s fastest growing companies that has listed in the BRW Fast 100 for the last three years in a row. We also won Telstra Dealer of the Year last year. With this experience, we built Techhead Connect [the distribution arm], which is following a similar growth path.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
The size of it and spread of people across the globe makes it very difficult to have a personal relationship with everyone. As video conferencing takes off, it will help us knock down some barriers. It would be great to see some of the people you talk to from time to time.
What will be the ‘next big thing’?
Mobile handsets and devices with corporate network connectivity [IP addresses]. This will cause a real shift in supply chain management and support from traditional mobile phone stores to IT resellers and systems integrators.
What is your key focus this year?
To empower our channel partners with mobility knowledge so they are in a position to take advantage of opportunities in the ICT sector.
How do you plan to achieve this?
Techhead Interactive is the company I led through the last years of 60 per cent year-on year growth. Almost three years ago, Telstra came to us and asked us to help invigorate the channel to do what we were doing in mobility, so we started Techhead Connect. I have a senior executive team running Techhead Interactive, but I’m now heavily involved in Connect, which is on a path to build an associate network and get partners upskilled with an emphasis on mobility products. The big thing we keep trying to drive through the channel is the wireless data side – Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and data cards in notebooks. That’s the stuff the traditional telco channel doesn’t get; they can’t configure Outlook, or set-up VPN clients. We will continue to build the portfolio of products that drive mobility.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Training for my next triathlon, riding my dirt bike or rounding up cattle on my farm in regional NSW. We train almost every day of the week – we have a team in the office and ride around the area most mornings.
Do you like gadgets?
I love gadgets. The only problem is that I don’t have time to play with everything I want to. Home automation is also really exciting stuff. I have spent more on technology in my house than what the actual house is probably worth.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
A pilot. I would like to get my licence sometime soon. I have friends with planes and helicopters and it is such a buzz flying in the cockpit. It would also make the commute to my farm that much quicker.
What is your biggest ambition?
From a business perspective: To see IT resellers in Australia benefit from the adoption of mobility and share a similar success to what we have had over the last eight years with Techhead Interactive. Personally, it’s to expand my rural operation in regional NSW and own a larger collection of Ferraris than Dave Stevens at Brennan IT.
Do you have any Ferraris yet?
Nope, not yet.