What was your first job?
My first job was back in Scotland where I held a manual labouring job. I did that for six months and quickly worked out that that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I left school at 15. I didn’t go to university but lived the university life, and after the labourer job I moved into an office job and became a trainee accountant for seven years.
How did you end up in the IT industry?
It was a bit of a fluke to be honest. A head hunter basically put me forward for a job, and I was attracted by the dollars. It wasn’t an easy interview to get – as you can imagine, I came from outside of the IT industry – but they were actually looking for someone without expertise. They wanted to train someone up in terms of selling communication-type solutions in their methodology. It took a lot of perseverance and personality and really going for it to get the role – I had six interviews – but I moved across, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
How did you join Cisco?
I came from a company called Digital Equipment Corporation, and I was approached just when Digital was being sold to Compaq. The old managing director of Cisco was a chap called Terry Walsh, and I had gotten to know some of those guys before they asked me to come for an interview. They’d actually asked three years earlier, and I’d refused for the reason that I’d moved a few times previously and needed some stability. It was the right decision for me at that point of time. This time, I moved across into Cisco as a channel account manager for six months, and on from there.
What do you like about your current position?
What I like is I came from 12-and-a-half years looking after service providers, which is a particular part of the marketplace into the channel side, which gives me a wider view of the marketplace. It’s a bit like a general manager’s position – I look after all architectures, and the complete arsenal of what we bring to market in terms of the channel partners I look after.
What frustrates you most about the IT industry? I can’t say there’s a lot that frustrates me, I’d rather talk about what excites me. It’s such a diverse industry, it changes so often and there are so many things to talk about and to do. That’s what attracted me to it, so maybe the frustration is I can’t get to all of that.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
It has really been landing at Cisco. I was just talking to an ex-executive that worked for Cisco who has left, and he was saying “you don’t really know it at the time, but when you move on you realise the journey you’ve had with Cisco”. I’m probably good in that I’ve realised what the company has done for me and how I’ve grown as an individual. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the industry that I can take elsewhere if I choose to go down that path.
What will be the next big thing?
I think video will be one of the big things – we’ve just come from Cisco’s worldwide partner conference, and it’s clear from that that video has become more and more prevalent. Work/life balance becomes very important as you become older, and some of these technologies enable that, as well as provide business benefits.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I spend a lot of time with my family. One of the things as an executive at Cisco is you contribute your pound of flesh and they work you hard. That’s a great thing, but there’s nothing I like more than being with my family on weekends. I’m one of those guys that specifically puts time in the diary to be with my family. The other thing I’m passionate about is motorcycles – I have a Honda STX1300, and there’s nothing I like more than being out on the open road. Unfortunately, my left leg isn’t as suited to motorbikes because I had a major accident a number of years back, but I absolutely love it.
What are some of your favourite roads to ride on?
The great Ocean Road in Victoria, as well as going down the south coast, or going up the central coast is good as well. One of the things I’d love to do is an around Australia trip.