Personality: A life in IT

What was your first job?

In year 11 I was the front desk person at the Matraville Tennis and Squash Centre taking bookings, selling lollies and drinks. I was earning $5 an hour and I was pretty rich then. I was a doorman for a nightclub at the Metropole for a while as well.

How did you end up in the IT industry?

I actually studied to be a computer programmer and after finishing I realised it was quite boring. I actually took on something to get me by and became a sales rep for All Purpose Messengers, which was a courier company. I was 19 years old and went door-knocking to get courier sales and stumbled across MiTAC in Erskineville, which is now Synnex. The managing director, Frank Sheu, was visiting from Melbourne and he liked my courageous approach to the secretary at the front desk. He said, “We don’t want your courier services but I’ve got a sales account manager role in the state office”.

How did you progress to where you are today?

I went to Quantum – they now make digital linear tape technology. I started off as a channel manager for them and then became their country manager. I was there for about 5 years and had a fantastic stint in a relatively small corporate office. I then went to Lexmark for a little over a year before going on to HP as a business development manager in 1998, where I’ve been for 11 years.

Is it good or bad to be in one company for a long period of time?

There are times when you’re interested in the world outside HP, but I have to say it’s been pretty exciting every day both from a positive and a challenge perspective. HP is an awesome place to work because they’ve got quite a luxurious environment when you think about all the systems in place.

What do you like about your current job?

I love working with resellers and distributors. I like to see the partnerships evolve and flourish into success.

hat has been the biggest achievement of your career?

When I was working in the servers and storage department they made me responsible for one of their strategies called ‘Attach’, which was cross-selling and up-selling. It started off as something ambiguous but the key to my success there was making it more understandable and relevant to each of the different audiences.

What do you dislike the most about the IT industry?

The standards that evolve and disappear – when I started there was something called DOS. That disappeared as an operating system, then we had Windows over time and Linux as well as Unix. There are a number of standards and I think that can be confusing for the consumer because there are so many variations for the same outcome.

What will be the ‘next big thing’ in the industry?

I think managed print is going to become more commonplace over the next 3-5 years. Consumers of all sizes are going to recognise the efficiencies they can get from it. There are fundamental financial benefits they can derive so I think it’ll become more commonplace.

What will be the main focus for your company this year?

I have a focus on the SMB consumer and the channel. I hope that we have more partners selling contractual print and that we are considered the vendor of choice for the SMB consumer.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

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I used to ride motorbikes, but I stopped because my wife threatened various things to me. I love Japanese sports bikes and I was riding a Honda CVR-1100 Blackbird. More recently, I’ve lost about 30kg since last year because I was overweight and unhealthy. I swim a lot and play tennis a lot and if I have the time I go jet-skiing. It’s had a radical effect on my life both from a confidence point of view and for my energy levels.

I’d love to visit Lebanon but with a wife and three kids I struggle to find the spare cash to do it. Every time I think about doing it, something erupts in that area and travel becomes a bit tricky.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I wanted to design cars so I spent all my school years fantasising about doing that. I even sent in drawings to Ford Australia, which got me a work apprenticeship there. But then I found out that in order to become successful you had to go to universities like Oxford and Yale to get high-level international qualifications and my upbringing was quite modest so that wasn’t an option.

Do you regret not becoming a car designer?

A little, but not too much. I’m totally passionate about what I do today. And after 21 years of being in the IT industry you’re convinced that this is it – that this is my world. With the friends and colleagues I’ve developed over the years, this is home for me now.

What is your ultimate ambition?

I’d love to become a senior executive within HP locally, regionally or internationally. I’ve heard having a family can hold ambitions back, but not in my case. My wife is our director of household affairs and is a full time mum. She’s very supportive and we’ve sometimes even contemplated moving to parts of Asia. The kids are a bit tricky because they get entrenched in schools, but they’re at an age now (13, 11 and 3) where they’re pretty flexible. In this role I’ve given myself a solid two years and having been in it for four months the clock isn’t ticking. But in a year’s time I’ll be reflecting on where I’m heading and will look at options a bit later after that. Hopefully I can demonstrate to the company I’m a good investment into the next step.

What’s your deadline for CEO? Before my pension age hopefully.

HP is based in California and was founded in 1939

It claims to have around 304,000 employees worldwide

Its Australasian headquarters is located Melbourne