Avnet’s Laurie Sellers retires after 37-year career in IT

Avnet’s Laurie Sellers retires after 37-year career in IT

Michael Costigan and US executive Tony Madden to step into the role in the short-term

Avnet's Laurie Sellers

Avnet's Laurie Sellers

Avnet Technology Solutions A/NZ vice-president and general manager, Laurie Sellers, has announced his retirement and will finish up at the distributor on September 28.

However, he will remain at Avnet in an advisory capacity until Q1 2013 to ensure an orderly handover.

In the short-term, Avnet Asia-Pacific marketing and business innovation vice-president, Michael Costigan, will step into Sellers’ role along with Avnet US executive, Tony Madden, as the company looks for a replacement.

Sellers retirement comes a little more than 18 months after the company he served for nearly two decades, itX, was acquired by Avnet on January 4, 2011.

“There’s a Beatles song, When I’m 64; well, I’m 64 in September,” Sellers said. “Seriously, it’s the right time do so."

“I always had in mind to retire in my early 60s if I had the financial stability to do so. The opportunity presented itself when Avnet took over itX but I decided to stay on for a couple of years to oversee the integration of staff, which was completed at the end of May with the final move to North Ryde."

“We decided then to enter the new financial year with me not in the chair."

The announcement marks the end on a 37-year career in IT for a man who never really envisioned such a journey.

“Initially, I was more in sales, related to the motor industry,” Sellers said. “I was a car salesman for quite a few years in the UK, but I saw that it wasn’t going to offer me a long-term prospect. And I was looking for a way to get out of it. After doing a bit of research, I decided I wanted to be a computer programmer.”

That was to be the start of a story that saw Sellers, a true risk-taker, uproot his life in Yorkshire, England, to start a new one in Sydney with his young family in 1981.

He subsequently rose up the ranks of the IT chain, successfully steering the ship of itX for 17 years (wearing the official MD hat for 12) before taking up his current position.

His remarkable success combined with the high regard that he is held in led to his induction into the ARN Hall of Fame in 2010.

Michael Costigan paid tribute to Sellers, saying, “The big thing he’s done in the time we’ve worked together is bring the two organisations together. His leadership in integrating these two similar organisations with similar cultures has been invaluable.

“He chose to stay and oversee that integration when he could have retired."

Costigan said the company would take its time in finding a replacement for Sellers and was aiming to having the new appointment in place at the beginning of Q3 2013.

Overall, 270 people now work for Avnet.

Sellers is quite excited about his retirement and he certainly won’t be putting his feet up.

A motor sports and music afficionado, he already has plans in both arenas.

Sellers recently returned from the US where he attended the Shelby America Automobile Club's 37th Anniversary show in New York State, which also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Shelby Cobra sports car. The meeting was held at Watkins Glen, home of the famous racetrack, giving him the opportunity to race two Shelby Cobra Mustangs on the track.

"[A friend of mine] owns the two Mustangs over I thought I'd better free up some time," Sellers said. "We are also looking at entering a car in the 2014 Le Mans Classic race.

"The rest of my time will be taken up with my interest in music," he said.

Sellers, who has played guitar since the age of 11 and was in bands up until his early 20s, got back into the industry a while ago and eventually became a third partner in CC Entertainment (CCE) which promotes tribute shows featuring the works of classic rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

CCE's next show, After the Beatles 1970-1980, is scheduled for The Basement on July 27 and features the solo works of the four Beatles, presented by an all-star band and fronted by vocalists including Steve Balbi (Noiseworks), Krisha Jones (Juice), Michell Anderson, Nic Jeffries and Carmel Mesiti.

"For me being part of CCE is a double-edged thing. It's a business but I also enjoy being part of it and working with young musicians," he said. "I love it. It keeps me young."

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