Having spent close to two decades in the distribution landscape, Angela Logan-Bell branched out of her comfort zone and into the wider tech sphere, joining Optus Business and eventually becoming Rackspace Technology’s A/NZ partner and alliances manager. She takes us through the start of her career at Tech Pacific and some of the key lessons she has learnt in accepting advice and help along the way, and how these experiences can shape you into a better person.
What was your first job?
I was an inside sales person for Voca Phones and Faxes. I decided to run a Christmas promotion for customers to ensure they stocked up on toner and paper so that they didn’t run out over the holidays, and it was so successful that we sold out. Back then, I also remember being totally focused on making sure I completed my to-do list every day. Now, I don’t always make that goal. Life often gets in the way.
How did you get started in the IT industry and progress to where you are today?
Throughout my IT career, I’ve been fortunate to work for some of the very best leaders and managers the Australian industry has seen, including Kerrie Baillie, John Walters, Monty Cottrell, Mal Shaw, Ross Cochrane and Peter Masters. Distribution is such a specific part of the industry but it’s also such an incredible place to learn, build your networks and develop a broad range of skills which stands you in great stead for your future career steps.
In 1997, I started at Tech Pacific as a support representative in Melbourne when the Internet became a thing. Back then, the Tech Pacific price book was a big deal and resellers would eagerly await the quarterly copy of the price book.
After 19 years in distribution, it was time for a change and to push myself out of my comfort zone. I took a role at Optus Business as a cloud specialist. This helped me to become more connected to end customers and to truly understand first-hand how they buy, what a meaningful supplier relationship can look like, and the value that a deep services-based offering can have on customer relationships.
Working for Nick Sone and the cloud business team at Optus allowed me to fast track my knowledge and capabilities to take on my current role at Rackspace Technology as partner and alliances manager in A/NZ.
At Rackspace Technology, I have been able to apply the skills I had developed in my previous roles and bring that to a role that has afforded me the opportunity to create a partner-based business with some of the most dynamic, demanding and innovative companies on the planet being AWS, Microsoft and Google. I thought distribution was fast-paced but working with the hyper-scalers takes it to a whole other level.
What are some of your plans at Rackspace Technology in the coming months?
In spite of COVID-19, we have had a successful year but of course it has not been without its challenges. What this year has shown me is that you need to have a deep understanding of customers, your people, stakeholders, the market, your capabilities and where you need to develop and change in order to take advantage of new opportunities. Having said that, our success took well over 12 months to forge and we are only now starting to see the kind of results we have been aiming for.
The coming months will continue to move at a relentless pace. All our efforts as a team are about accelerating and building on our relationships, expertise and capabilities through to the end of 2020 so that the team can take a well-deserved break and start FY21 with strong momentum.
What is resonating with customers in such a difficult year is how to optimise their IT spend, divert available resources to speed up transformation, and be better placed to navigate what will be an uncertain few years for local and global economies.
In terms of partnering, we are constantly evolving and nurturing our alliance and channel partnerships so that we build on the work we have done and the work still to do.
Partnering is absolutely essential for any organisations’ success. I often refer to what we do as 360 degree partnering, meaning we work with many partners in many ways. We are on an acquisition path to identify those partners that we can add services and capabilities to, and for those who will complement our own.
What has been your biggest business mistake, and the lessons you've learnt from that experience?
Not taking advice sooner. Let’s call it a necessary part of maturing but for me it was about becoming comfortable asking for help and accepting it. Once I did accept the help I was offered, I learned one of the most valuable lessons in my career.
What are some of your ambitions — personally and professionally?
It goes without saying that continuing what my team have worked so hard to build is a driving motivation for me, but we have a lot more we can achieve in our partnerships with our key vendors. I have an amazing team and love working with them. In addition to that, I am very focused on supporting the wider A/NZ business and the APJ region to achieve the goals we are setting ourselves for the rest of this year and FY21.
Beyond the immediate challenges, with the support of my MD, I am building towards my most significant career step to be aligned across more of the business, teams and functions working towards a senior leadership role for the region. I feel fortunate to have this trust and to be empowered to grow by my leader, which is driving me well outside of my comfort zone to truly achieve more of my potential.
Having unconditional support from my MD makes a discernible difference to my commitment and confidence, and I would like more people to have the opportunity to work with leaders who afford you that support.
Personally, living in Melbourne has been challenging this year, so spending as much time with family and friends as soon as we are able will feel like an incredible luxury – something I’m sure we are all hoping for.
We have a renovation about to kick off too, so I’m looking to get some work boots on and develop new skills on the building site together with my husband. In spite of everything that we have all had to endure this year and some very challenging circumstances for people I am very close to, I am incredibly grateful to be employed, to have a career and to work in the IT industry that enables business to continue when so many have not had that luxury.
What has been the best piece of advice you've ever received?
One of my sales managers saw that I was particularly frustrated and upset about something that had happened and he encouraged me to move on from it quickly. At the time, I didn’t understand how or why that was possible, yet as you age and mature more, you understand that taking a lesson from what happened and moving on serves you far better than dwelling on something.
I also feel that all the lessons we learn have incredible value in shaping who we are today – whether they are good or bad experiences, they all serve to help you become a better person and a better contributor. It is all underpinned by confidence which is essential for success, for making decisions, creating strategies, having hard conversations and for achieving your potential, especially as a woman in business.
I feel more confident today in standing up for what is right and appropriate as well as in empowering others and encouraging them to do the same.