Howard: It’s the right time

Howard: It’s the right time

After 14 years in distribution, Leigh Howard is keen on stepping into something completely different

Recently resigned Westcon Group local managing director, Leigh Howard, has reflected on his 14 years in the distribution industry saying it was time to move on.

ARN first reported on Howard’s resignation. While a replacement is being sought, Asia Pacific vice-president, Wendy O’Keeffe, will step in.

Howard said he initially didn’t plan to stay too long in the distribution game, but after five years with Westcon in the UK, he was given the opportunity to pack up and move to Australia.

Howard spent nine years in the Australian branch, starting out as national sales manager and becoming managing director in March last year, after O’Keeffe moved up to become the Asia Pacific vice-president.

“I can’t believe how quickly nine years have flown by,” he said. “It’s the right time. I’ve done everything that I wanted to do in distribution.

“Distribution is a great place to work and learn how to run a business properly."

Howard said he would like to work for a vendor or integrator, and that there was a small possibility that he could return to the UK, or find a European role within the global Westcon Group.

“It’s a possibility, but that’s all it is,” he said. “I want to try something completely different. I’m still very passionate about IT and still love the channel.”

During his time with Westcon Group in Australia, Howard said he has managed to triple its business in the market and focus on key areas such as the datacentre convergence.

His tenure with the company will come to an end as of June 1, but he still plans to achieve double digit growth within its first quarter. He said the company experienced the best March since acquiring LAN Systems in 2000. The name was eventually changed to Westcon Group, seven years later.

“I’ve lead the business to the point where I’ve seen that growth and I’m leaving it on a high with a very good leadership team in place,” he said.

Most important lesson Howard has learnt in the distribution game is how to make money and it was also a great learning ground into understanding how the channel works.

“It’s the leanest part of the channel and you’ve got to have a good head for P&L, understand the value to your customer community and you have to evolve, and reinvent yourself. You can’t afford to stand still,” he said. “Things move much quicker in distribution. You’ve got to be sharp, fast and first to market.”

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