After spending 15 years at the helm, Express Data CEO, Ross Cochrane, is stepping down.
He will take on a non executive role with Express Data once the leadership transition has taken place and will work with the board on strategy and direction. The role will see Cochrane dedicate two days per week working on the business.
“It’s not something that you make a decision on in the spur of the moment. I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Cochrane told ARN. “It’s a long time doing the same kind of job and I’ve loved it, but I wanted to try some different things, work on strategy and what’s happening in the industry.
“I’ve got things that I want to do personally not in the IT industry necessary, but generally in business.”
David Gage will take up the CEO post effective May 1.
Gage previously spent six years with Express Data in regional management roles as well as being the founding manager of the Express Online subsidiary.
“He’s got very good distribution experience, knows vendors very well and all of our major partners such as Cisco and Microsoft. He also has some very good leadership skills,” Cochrane said. “David will inherit a very stable and successful business that is already very well led. He will have his opportunity to take it to the next level.
“We have a lot of very experienced executives and a lot of stability in our leadership team with people like Peter Masters, David Peach and Mal Shaw, which all have more than 10 years experience in heading up marketing, sales and product management.”
Cochrane said distribution was one of the best industries to be a part of.
“Having the opportunity to lead people and see us achieve good things has been great,” he said. “It’s not just about the financial and operational components; it’s definitely about the ability to work with people towards a common goal. The satisfaction you can get from a team when you achieve things is fantastic.”
The types of skills built up over time in management and finance were transferable across any industry, he said.
“The benefit of being in distribution and the technology area is that everyone is looking at supply chain with regard to the internet and the models are changing. There’s a lot of industries outside of IT that can utilise the expertise from the IT industry,” he said.
Some of Cochrane's proudest achievements during his time at Express Data, was being able to retain staff for the long haul.
“A hallmark of my leadership is that I’ve been able to attract and work with great talent, and through them achieve the outcomes we needed,” he said. “We’ve had strong growth at ED, which went from $100 million business when I started to growing more than seven times over the years has been great to see.”
Spending 15 years in distribution is not without its challenges such as the dotcom bust and global financial crisis. But Cochrane said it had been able to manage its way through whatever was tossed into their path.
“What gives you the most confidence in a business is that you don’t know what’s ahead, but you know you can build a team that can navigate their way through whatever comes your way,” Cochrane said.
“This organisation is built on very solid foundations and they run deep and will remain in place.”
Cochrane worked across reseller and vendor land before joining Express Data.
He previously worked for resellers, Hi-Soft and BCA IT, and took up a sales role with Toshiba.