Distribution Man

Distribution Man

In an ideal world, Brad Adams would still be living at Wamberal beach on the Central Coast, surfing and fishing. Adams grew up on this quiet beach north of Sydney and would love to have stayed there for life. But as an ambitious twenty-something, he decided Sydney would be the place to launch a career in IT sales.

The computing revolution began for Adams on the shelves of a local Dick Smith Electronics store. Adams' co-workers at the time pointed out they were the first retail outlet in Australia to start selling the clone PCs that would form the basis for the information revolution on the desktop. He wonders now whether all the other stores were making similar claims. Nonetheless, he knew a career in computing was in the making.

Adams went on to manage the Dick Smith store for three years. He believes this background in retail was vital to the customer focus he would give to every sale in future roles and recommends retail experience as an ideal starting point for a career in IT sales.

"The involvement at the retail level got me interested in PCs," he said. "Working in retail is a good grounding. It gives you a real sense of understanding of what the customers are after."

Adams then moved into peripheral sales, selling monitors and video cards for a couple of years, before moving into solution sales with AWA Computers, where he would sell applications for the retail vertical. Not long after, he joined a now-defunct reseller called HB&A Systems, where he began selling IBM AS400 systems and enterprise manufacturing and distribution applications. During this time, Adams honed his skills with a four-year commerce qualification. He sees this training as being vital to his later positions at senior management level.

"It's important you have a solid understanding not only of the sales side but the other financial aspects of how to manage an organisation," he said. "[The commerce qualification has] proved invaluable in that area."

He took these skills with him to distribution software vendor Masterpack, where he sold enterprise solutions based on Unix. Over time, the territory Adams worked in expanded to include New Zealand. He was subsequently appointed managing director of New Zealand operations and spent 18 months living in Parnell, Auckland with his fiancé. Adams remembers this time favourably.

The couple returned to Australia in 1998, coinciding with their wedding and his appointment as director of sales and marketing for Masterpack.

"I saw the appointment as a step toward becoming managing director, which was always my objective in that organisation." Adams' objective would be achieved by August 1999.

"I have always been highly competitive and very ambitious," he said. "It's a competitive world, so it serves both your career and your company well to be ambitious."

In February this year, Adams was involved with some initial discussions with software vendor Ixchange, which specialises in supply-chain solutions based on the Microsoft platform. Ixchange acquired Masterpack for $US23 million and rolled it into a new division, Ability, headquartered in Atlanta, USA. Adams was then appointed managing director of Ability, Asia-Pacific, and become part of Ability's executive team that formulates the direction of the business globally.

"Ability's objective as a company is to grow to a $100 million company within the next 18-24 months," he said. "We also have a clear strategy to engage in a US-based initial public offering in that same timeframe." But even when discussing IPOs, Adams places great importance on his experience in the channel.

"In order to do this, we realise the channel is extremely important in ensuring we're able to grow at the pace that will help us reach that goal," he said.

The biggest challenge Adams has faced in his career so far has been managing the many changes his companies and the IT industry itself throws about on a daily basis.

"Managing morale and people in a period of such intense change can be quite a challenge. You get some things right, but it's not easy to please all people all the time."

Today Adams faces another challenge: being a father. He is the proud Dad of a six-month old, and has come to the realisation that managing family and business can be quite a tough balancing act.

"I think it's important that you set your priorities on these matters," he said. "You don't want family or business to interfere with each other, but when all's said and done, family takes first place."

Adams sees his success in the industry so far as being a combination of being at the right place at the right time, and a lot of hard work.

"Certainly things have developed on the fly, but I have always had the intention of getting to senior management and knew that a sales background would be an important part of that process. I've always had my eye on the objective," he said. "And you know what they say - the harder you work, the luckier you get."

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