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Toshiba's Rob Wilkinson: Putting family first

Toshiba's Rob Wilkinson: Putting family first

Toshiba’s Rob Wilkinson, spoke with DAVID RAMLI about his plans to gain extra channel traction and his dislike of being constantly on call.

What was your first job? My very first job would be mowing the lawn and washing the cars for mum and dad to get some pocket money. It would’ve been for lollies when I was 12 or 13. The generations have changed – my kids get pocket money for watching the telly. I then pumped gas at petrol stations, handed out brochures and did anything to make a buck because I wanted to travel and do the movies. When I was at university, I worked at Australia’s Wonderland.

What did you study at university? I did a Bachelor of Science, majoring in computers and statistics. I think computers was a personal interest and stats something I was good at.

How did you progress to where you are today? There was a reseller based in Rosebery looking for a junior sales representative to look after a state government contract it’d won. Jill Gallagher gave me my first real job and I did it for 12 months. I moved out of there and took a job in Harvey Norman working on the shop floor because I wanted to work in a retailer with good training, stock and back-end systems. After three years, I ended up forging a relationship with one of the guys at HP before taking a job in their retail business unit. I worked there for about two-and-a-half years under Andrew Cooper and had a great time before coming to Toshiba. I’ve spent 12 years here and I’m 39.

What is the biggest achievement of your career so far? Working with [Toshiba managing director] Mark Whittard to grow our AV business. To take a brand that was once nowhere in the market and firmly entrenching it in the top five has been a great result. The next 12 months will be a defining period for visual products.

What is Toshiba’s main focus this year? I’d say it is engaging with our channel partners better and bringing new business products to market. There is going to be a fundamental change in mobile computing this year from different platforms and technologies. The way we engage with the channel partners that can take these new products to market with education and positioning will be our primary focus. The opportunity really lies in the SMB sector. We have no doubt we can grow our business there and we’ve got some fantastic products that will help us.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry? The fact that the industry never sleeps – its heartbeat beats 24/7. Consumers and partners expect you to be contactable around the clock and working for a company that promotes mobile computing sort of seeds that. Sometimes it’s hard to escape work so the toughest thing is to manage that balance, particularly with a busy home life.

How many kids do you have? I’ve got four kids. I come to work to have a break. I also have a super wife that does all the hard work. Kids are great and they give you a perspective that you can’t buy. They definitely teach you to have a little bit of patience and maybe those attributes are good for business. They make you look beyond the surface and that style of thinking will always bode well for business. That’s what life is all about in my view, to have kids and spend time with your family.


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Tags IT industrytoshibaMark WhittardSMB sectorRob Wilkinson

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