​Angela Fox - Ripping up the rural rulebook

​Angela Fox - Ripping up the rural rulebook

Fresh from being inducted into the ARN Hall of Fame, Angela Fox explains to James Henderson how a rural New Zealander came to lead the local arm of the world’s largest technology company.

Angela Fox (Dell EMC) is inducted into the ARN Hall of Fame

Angela Fox (Dell EMC) is inducted into the ARN Hall of Fame

On the banks of the Waihou River, nestled in the southeast of Auckland - the Hauraki Plains to be precise - Angela Fox entered the world.

Growing up on a dairy farm near Turua, the New Zealander has risen from her rural roots to help reshape the Australian technology industry, swapping cattle for the channel across the Tasman.

“It’s a very different world to where I am today,” observed Fox, speaking as the new commercial lead of Dell EMC Australia and New Zealand.

“The life there and the family environment I grew up in instilled in me a can-do attitude and a drive to take on opportunities that came my way.

“With strong values and great role models around me, at a very influential time during my high-school and university years, my brother in-laws encouraged me to think about the broad possibilities that were open to me.”

For young Kiwi women however, technology seldom presented itself as a career of choice, such was its tendency to still favour men wearing pin-striped suits, white button-down shirts, rep ties and wing-tipped shoes - otherwise known as the IBM attire.

Yet after graduating from university in Auckland, Fox was accepted into a graduate program at Big Blue, reflecting a change of attitudes within the industry.

“It was at a time in the industry when companies were more inclined to take a diverse range of multi-discipline graduates rather than hiring specific to your major and then train you extensively,” Fox recalled.

“There were great graduate programs available and this provided my generation a lot more opportunities to explore different career paths.”

Having been raised on the edge of a small village community playing host to less than 500 households, Fox now finds herself leading the local arm of a multi-billion dollar tech behemoth, spanning thousands of staff worldwide.

Such is Fox’s nature however, the transition appeared effortless, demonstrating the hard-work, courage and conviction of a leader.

“I originally envisaged being a science teacher or pursuing a career in the health industry such as nursing or physiotherapy,” Fox admitted.

“However, having completed a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from the University of Auckland, the offer to join a graduate program opened up new opportunities.

Angela Fox (Dell EMC) is inducted into the ARN Hall of Fame
Angela Fox (Dell EMC) is inducted into the ARN Hall of Fame

“The mentors and role models in my life at that time really encouraged me to take on the challenge and leap in a completely different direction.”

Since arriving on Sydney shores on Australia in 1998 - on a two-year assignment with a previous employer - Fox made the first steps to a future within the technology industry.

“The career opportunities available to me were instrumental in us making that decision,” Fox said.

Having relocated to Singapore with Dell for two years, Fox returned again to Sydney in 2014 to assume the role of managing director of Dell Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s great to be back,” Fox said. “We are Australian citizens and this is very much home.”

As someone renowned for embracing opportunity, Fox believes Dell has tapped into her inner psyche, allowing experiences to be broadened and capabilities enhanced, both locally and internationally.

“I have held a number of roles across different parts of our business and within the industry,” Fox said.

“The businesses we enable, continue to go through significant transformation and I believe there couldn't be a more exciting time to be a leader in our business.

“We have an inherent culture of innovation and it's been incredible to be part of the evolution of Dell over the last ten years.

“Michael Dell had just come back as CEO when I joined; the company then privatised and now, as part of Dell Technologies, Dell EMC is a company which is #1 in every space it operates in.”

But for Fox, in keeping the common touch, acknowledged that while change is encouraged and growth always welcomed, such environments are dependent on one underlying aspect.

“None of this is possible without our people,” Fox added. “Some of the greatest satisfaction that I have had during my career has come from the role I've had in helping others achieve success.

“I feel privileged to have played a part through my leadership, sponsorship and mentoring which has resulted in the success of others - both within my team and colleagues within the industry. I am a great believer in giving back.”

This article originally appeared in the December issue of ARN magazine - to subscribe, please click here

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