Before entering the IT world 16 years ago, Veeam Software’s regional director Don Williams sold alcohol, toilets, and buckets. It is fair to say he did not follow the conventional path into technology.
Once he ventured into IT, though, he never looked back.
From his Sydney office, Williams supervises Veeam’s business in the Asia Pacific and Japan region, while keeping in touch with the North American headquarters. As such, his work hours are hardly ever 9-to-5.
Williams moved to Australia from California nine years ago, for what was supposed to only be a two year assignment. He says he has no plans to move back to the United States.
Closely following the business on both sides of the Tasman, Williams says business in New Zealand will probably remain unchanged in the coming months. “Being in sales, I always want to be optimistic, but my head tells me that it will be more of the same for the next year or so. With that said, there are still plenty of opportunities to be successful as long as you have the right technology, solution and messaging,” he says. “Companies are still going to be investing in technology and I feel that virtualisation and cloud are the top areas they will look to provide better service to their customers and reduce cost. Fortunately for Veeam, this is our sweet spot. We were built for virtualisation and our solutions are powerful, easy to use and affordable.”
The company now has a local person on the ground in New Zealand, and Williams says this will “put a big focus on the face-to-face interaction with customers and partners”. He adds that the company intends to grow the local team within the next year: “We also have a team of resources in our Sydney office focused on New Zealand. With continued success in New Zealand I would like to add a pre-sales systems engineer in country within the next 12 months.”
Williams says the secret to his success in his role is simply to be passionate about what he does. “Regardless of the business you are in, my advice is to find an industry and a role that you are passionate about and aim towards being the best person in the business,” he says. “Nothing frustrates me more than seeing talented people who are just doing the bare minimum to get by in their role. Life is too short and is way more enjoyable and fulfilling when you put effort into doing something well.”
Where do you live now and where did you grow up and have lived before?
I have been living in Manly Beach, Australia for nearly 9 years now. I grew up in Southern California in a town called Huntington Beach and have also lived in the San Francisco Bay area and Denver, Colorado.
Are you married? Do you have kids?
Yes and yes. This year will be our twentieth anniversary and we have a two and a half year old daughter. We waited a long time before starting a family!
What are you currently reading?
I mostly read electronic newsletters and websites. I always start books and have a hard time finishing them. The last book I read was called Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. My greatest reading accomplishment however was finishing Shantaram from beginning to end and if you've seen the book, you'll know what I mean – it’s a good book.
When you were little, what did you think you would be when you grew up?
An FBI agent.
Do you have any favourite sports?
The sports I like to participate in are cycling and surfing. Cycling is very social sport and when you are not going at full speed, you can have a good chat with your riding partners. We usually finish a ride with a coffee and recap all of our close encounters with unfriendly motorist. I have made some of my best friends through cycling and now it has become the new golf for a lot of business people.
What's your favourite gadget?
My iPhone. My wife keeps telling me that I’m going to go blind from looking at it too much.
What's your drink of choice?
In the morning I will have a coffee, during the rest of the day, it is water and if I am out, it would be a beer or wine. I am a big fan of the New Zealand pinot noirs.
What do you think has been the single most important advance in technology?
What do you like about the IT industry?
It is fast-paced, life-changing, and presents huge opportunities for people that are creative. There is an old saying that IT used to support the business and now IT is at the core of the business - or at least the competitive differentiator for most businesses. If you think about it, it is pretty much true for any industry both commercial and public.
Could you describe what a typical day in your role involves?
I wake up and check emails that come in over night, so that I can action things with people that are in North America before they go home for the night. If I am not travelling, it is only a short walk from my house to the office which is a huge benefit.
What do you love the most about your job?
It would have to be the people I work with; internally at Veeam, our partners and our customers. There is so much excitement and passion about our technology it makes our job a lot of fun. We will often talk about our products capabilities and the person will look sceptical and the best response is when they ask us to prove it. Then we smile and know that we are going to win them over.
What do you consider to be your major strengths or skills?
My positive attitude and persistence.
How do you keep the work/leisure balance?
In a fast growing organisation like Veeam it is a challenge, but I also love what I do and it doesn't feel like work. Family has to be number one and it is about balancing the two. I do work long hours and with my favourite gadget I can take advantage of small moments in time to maximise every minute of the day. When I am with my wife and daughter I try to give them my 100 percent focus, but there are the gaps where I can get a few work things done.