SonicWall country manager, Dean Redman, spent much of his youth in Wollongong and up with an interest in programming and a strong desire to become an accountant. He spoke with DAVID RAMLI about his simultaneous love for technology and dislike of gadgets.
What was your first job? I actually started out in the rag trade working part-time and was a junior account manager. I think I’ve always had sales/technical in me from day dot. It was a company called Vivre and I was brought on to manage the Jeans West and Rip Curl accounts because they were really hip. I guess it was a job of all sorts – I developed a lot of the line-of-business ERP applications and coded them myself. I was the geek at school. I was the hider, the boy that was picked on, but now it’s different.
What did you study at university? Information technology, majoring in business studies at the University of Wollongong. That’s where I am originally from. The problem is I got too busy and never actually finished. I just got to that stage where I was in a job where I was happy. I was lucky enough that I was fairly targeted and said, ‘I want to work for you, this is what I’m capable of, are you interested?’.
Do you regret not finishing?
I gained a lot from the uni experience, but in the last year the topics were really irrelevant. Would I have used any of that? No. It was good to get an understanding of the lifestyle and a good transition program to apply foundation formulas and principles to business. The piece of paper is just a piece of paper. I never really regretted it, but it inhibited me in a couple of things I wanted to look at. But it’s the last bit of paper that counts and I’ve done my technical certifications and for me that is more pertinent.
How did you progress to where you are today?
I had a friend who used to work at Franklins and I interviewed and got a job managing all the PCs there. After 12 months, I was the network manager for the corporate network. That was where I built up my passion for technology from an engineering/ IT background. Eventually, I was working for Mallesons Stephen Jacques [a major commercial law firm] dealing with their infrastructure. I got to that stage in my career where technically I wasn’t being challenged. When working at Mallesons, I decided if I could deal with lawyers, I could deal with customers and that was where the penny dropped that I had lost my engineering passion.
What was your fi rst IT sales position?
My first IT sales job was at a reseller in North Sydney basically selling outsourcing. It was Sysygy Computer Networks in the 2000 downturn. The two resellers I worked for both went down. The administrators walked in and it was like, ‘oh, you’re here again. I’ll just pack my things’. ---P--- How did you feel being part of two separate sinking ships?
I took it as an opportunity; it was forcing me to look for another job. It was a little bit scary at the time but now I look back and it has helped me deal with those situations personally. It also opened my eyes to checking the financial viability when joining a business and took me to the next level because I saw the impact of bad business decisions.
What’s the next big thing in IT?
There’s a huge opportunity for dealing better with communications. What I mean is dealing better with data and interfacing all the different technologies – social networking, for example. I think we’re still repackaging a lot of things when it comes to Web 2.0. There’s still a way to go before we really enter the Web 2.0 world, how we interface with it as businesses and how we consolidate all these different media.
What is the main focus for your company in the next year?
It’s to really build the SonicWall profile and our understanding of what our philosophies are, educating companies on the vision we have and how we have changed. We’ve got two customer sets or ecosystems we deal with: There are the existing customers; and the newly acquired or to be acquired partners or customers.
What do you do when you are not at work?
I’ve got my son on the weekends and I like spending my time with him. I’m travelling during the week and it doesn’t really leave that much time free in the end. We do projects together, he’s four and very active. But here’s how the generations have changed: He eats mussels, he likes sushi and caviar or fish eggs. He’s definitely got champagne tastes but I think it’s a different lifestyle from how we were brought up: Jam sandwiches one day and peanut butter the next, that was variety.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
There were two things. I really wanted to be an accountant – I liked maths and I really liked dealing with spreadsheets. Then the non-sit-at-your- desk job was being a fireman. I think it’s about the challenge and helping people. If I wasn’t in a position where I have to work, I would like to volunteer.
Do you like gadgets?
Can I say no? In defining what a gadget means to me, it’s small devices that do a single function. I absolutely love my iPod because it helps me break away from the world. But it’s not really the iPod, it’s more my music that I love. For me, the BlackBerry is work. I like a bit of segmentation in my life. I’d rather be a better father and husband than the world’s best CEO
- •SonicWall was founded in 1991.
- The California-based security vendor sells to a wide range of customers, but is known for its SMB range.
- SonicWall claims to have more than 15,000 resellers and distributors around the world.