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Surfing in high-definition widescreen

ViewSonic country manager, Brendan Frawley, on the attraction of visual display and the push towards bigger and better screens

ViewSonic country manager, Brendan Frawley, spent years in the automotive industry before migrating to IT. He talks to MATTHEW SAINSBURY about the attraction of visual display and the push towards bigger and better screens.

What was your first job?

After university I started in automotive marketing up in Queensland before moving to Sydney to work with Hyundai as the product manager. It was fun pushing a car around a test track before launching it into Australia. I then moved to Panasonic and looked after many different products. As the CE group marketing manager I experienced the phenomenal growth of digital cameras and plasma and LCD categories. I then transferred to a business systems role as group manager (AV/IT) covering commercial plasmas and projectors. In July 2007, I joined ViewSonic as the country manager.

What degrees do you have? There's a few. I completed a Bachelor of International Business at Griffith University, which covered the political and economic relations mainly in the Asia-Pacific region. I then completed an Export Management Diploma and later a Masters of Commerce (Information Systems and Technology) at Macquarie University.

Why did you move into IT from automotive? It was around the time of Y2K and I was studying ERP implementations and business process re-engineering. I enjoyed the international travel I was doing and had an opportunity to further my business career within consumer electronics.

How did you progress to where you are today? It was a natural progression into ViewSonic as its products overlapped with most of the areas I had previously worked across such as digital signage, projectors and flat panel TVs. ViewSonic has a well established presence in the PC monitor space so I saw a huge opportunity to be involved with a growing company focused entirely on visual technologies.

What do you like about your current job? We have a good business model, focused product set and great relationships with our distributors. Our business model is highly leveraged and we can reach a wider network with a much flatter and more flexible structure. ViewSonic's management team is also very fast and flexible. My product managers are actually based in Taiwan so they hear any industry news first and that is a great advantage for us.

What is the biggest achievement of your career to date? I've been pretty successful in just about every position I've had in terms of meeting the budgets and doing the business plans, projecting, forecasting and researching the markets, and then delivering on my forecasts. Some of the ones that stand out are doubling the Hyundai range of vehicles, launching Viera, and joining ViewSonic. I think that my biggest achievements are yet to come.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry? The IT industry in Australia is relatively small and geographically dispersed. There's a high cost of transportation and it is difficult to have direct representation in each state. Having said that, that's why we are working with two of the biggest distributors in Australia, Ingram Micro and Synnex, to counter the distance difficulties.

What is your focus for this year? ViewSonic has a heritage of being the first to introduce new technologies. This year it's all about re-enforcing that position. There are so many new products to launch its quite exciting.

What is the next big thing in the industry? If you're talking about PC monitors, it's the trend towards larger and wider screens. People are choosing to go big and go wide. That's where we see the market going and that's certainly where we're directing it. I think the second TV in the house will become a big screen PC monitor used for desktop entertainment (movies, gaming, music and Internet). In younger demographics this will replace the TV.

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What do you do when you're not at work? Mostly spend time with my family, squeeze in a quick surf, do some reading and stay up to date with the news. I'm reading a history book at the moment called A Terrible Beauty - it's about the people and ideas that shaped the 20th century - and it's taking a long time to finish.

Do you get to go surfing often? About 45 minutes per week. It used to be half a day twice a week or possibly in the mornings or evenings, but that hasn't been the case for at least five years now. Three kids under the age of five will do that.

Where do you do you do your surfing? Just around the northern beaches [in Sydney]. I have a three-beach rule because I've only got those 45 minutes and can't afford to be too picky.

Do you like gadgets? Yes. I'm on the lookout for a phone with a GPS so I can combine the two together. I know there's a couple out there at the moment, but a bit more choice would make things a little more affordable.

What are some of your favourite toys? I like my PC peripherals [MP3 player, camcorder and digital still camera]. With a young family I like to capture the early memories and send it down the line to my family to share. I am also pretty happy with my collection of audiovisual equipment.

What did you want to be when you were younger? It depends on how far back you go. As a younger kid I always wanted to be fit and healthy and do something outdoors - possibly be a surfer or a footy player. As I grew up I saw the benefit of an education in helping shape a business career.

What is your biggest ambition? My biggest ambition with ViewSonic is to create a high performing team, build on the great company culture and improve our brand recognition in the Australian market.

Company snapshot

ViewSonic was founded in the USA in 1987 and has grown into a worldwide visual display provider. The company provides a complete line of LCD displays, digital televisions, projectors and visual devices for business, consumer electronics, education and professional markets.