As a natural born counsellor, relationship builder, and businessman, talk to Fujitsu Australia national channel manager, Daniel Campbell, and his drive to succeed is clear, having had his first taste of business and financial empowerment aged 12.
Campbell spoke to ARN about his life leading up to the channel.
“My first job was running a paper round but I had to trick my parents into allowing me,” said Campbell, who is Australian born, but raised on the outskirts of London in Watford, from the age of four.
“They were dead against it, they thought I was too young to be delivering papers in the morning before school, but I wanted the money.
“My sister was in hospital for a few days and my Aunt was looking after us, so I went up to the newsagent and got the paper round. I just told my Aunt I’d been doing it for a while.”
But upon returning from the hospital, Campbell’s parents found their son sneaking out early one morning, with an orange bag over the shoulder.
“They questioned me but I told them ‘I’ve started a paper round and I can’t let people down so I better get going’, and they accepted it,” he recalled.
Racing around houses delivering newspapers inside the M25 flicked a switch in Campbell, who from a young age aspired to run his own small business.
“I don’t know why I got it into my head, but I always liked the idea of being the master of my own destiny,” he said.
For Campbell is a jack of all trades in terms of career development, having worked in retail, telesales and sourcing mail, to stints as a bartender, car salesman and chief plate scraper in bistros, to a recruitment consultant and eventual business owner.
After running Campbell Ross Consulting, Campbell also worked for Getty Images as a market development executive, even taking the role of DJ at Swansea University during his student years.
“I DJ’d garage originally and then drum and bass,” he recalled, admitting to his stage name of ‘Rude Boy Dan’. “I’m the complete opposite of a rude boy, so I’m not sure where my promoter got the inspiration.
“The audience would have seen this mild mannered person on stage, who spoke in a reasonably posh accent and thought ‘this is a lie’. But I used to wear, and I’m ashamed to say it, white chino pants and a black Adidas fleece, which was my standard get up.”
Stepping into IT
Fresh from retiring his vinyl’s, second hand cars and dirty beer glasses, Campbell returned to Australia and eventually entered the local channel market, leaving an indelible mark on his professional development.
Following two years at local distributor TData managing vendor account, Campbell’s career path in technology changed, after clinching the vacant channel development manager role at Fujitsu.
Previously a part-time role, Campbell has recorded a stellar 700 per cent growth in channel sales since 2012, continually pushing the envelope in terms of implementing new programs, processes, and relationships with channel partners.
“The channel grew by accident for Fujitsu before I came in,” he said. “It was something that just happened, rather than was a core focus of the organisation.
"But corporate told the Australia division to grow the channel business and sell more product so we secured internal funding and made it happen.”
Starting from scratch with significant autonomy, Campbell set about forging the strategic channel direction of the company, building a business model from the group up, even constructing its CRM in his own time.
“Nothing existed in the Fujitsu world,” he admitted. “There was a global framework of a partner program but there was nothing tangible wrapped into it. There was no training program, no certifications and no rebate scheme.
“We hadn’t even worked out how to pay rebates and where that money was going to come from but the hard work paid off in the end.”
While “crazy at times”, Campbell has steadily developed a team outside of his own capabilities, bringing onboard two other channel staff to deepen the company’s commitment to the local market.
“We see huge potential to grow with both our current partner base and through new recruits also,” he said.
For Campbell, a channel partnership differs from a traditional client relationship, with a greater need for two-way collaboration between vendor and reseller.
“We want to be as transparent as we possibly can be with our partners,” he added. “If there are things we do well, obviously we’d like them to know about it but if there are things that we are not doing so well, then we will tell them about that too.”
Such transparency is resonating with partners at a local level according to Campbell, who has constructed a channel built on open and interactive relationships.
“We are completely open with our partners,” he admitted. “We show them everything and during the past two years we’ve had 10 of our largest partners in the room and opened everything up to them.
"They are almost like a virtual board of directors and that’s a function they serve which is hugely valuable to us as a vendor.
“Our partners are all successful in their own right and to have them provide time and insight is incredibly valuable."
With his local channel strategy humming, and a growing partner base developing, Campbell is looking towards the second phase of his development at Fujitsu, targeting a new tier of growth for the company.
“We have the platform and a highly engaged partner base so we are approaching the starting point,” he observed. “Through our strong distribution channel we also have the tools and processes in place at the back end which has allowed the opportunity to automate workloads that previously required manual input.”
In keeping with his ambitious nature, Campbell’s aim is simple; “I want to see Fujitsu become a market leader within the product space in Australia.”
“There’s space in the market because while the product stack is commoditised, the way we engage with our partners differs from the rest,” he outlined.
When taking over the channel business, Campbell admitted that during the early days, it was a “hard slog” to onboard new partners, with multiple engagement required to convince resellers to switch.
But in looking back, Campbell believes his previous life as a wheeler-dealer helped shape his approach to the channel, emphasising the power of nurturing relationships across his partner community.
“My car dealership days taught me the importance of having good relationships with other people in the business that aren’t necessarily in the sales function,” he said. “I used to spend a lot of time with the mechanics, chatting to them and enjoying a six pack of beers on a Friday afternoon. And as I learned, a lot of business came from the mechanics.”
In short, it’s just being the “nice guy”. For Campbell however, being the ultimate conversationalist goes deeper than common decency, it’s also good business sense.
“People say you can’t be a decent guy and get ahead, but I don’t believe it,” he added. “This stupid notion that nice guys finish last is completely wrong and I’ve seen enough examples to make me think otherwise.
“If you stick to your ethics, then you will get ahead faster than if you are a jerk because it always comes back to bite you.”
This article was originally published in the June issue of ARN Magazine.