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Matt Harrison and life in the fast lane

Matt Harrison and life in the fast lane

Veeam's NZ channel manager set aside his Formula One racing dreams and has been living the dream in IT instead

Veeam Software’s New Zealand channel manager Matt Harrison believes in the value of personal interactions in business and has a personal goal of ten productive face-to-face meetings a week.

“A typical day might start with an early morning coffee catch-up with one of our distributors, before meeting with our partners around specific opportunities and then in the afternoon hosting a client-specific technical webinar with our Sydney team. Oh and lots of phone calls, emails and a couple more coffees,” he says.

The important thing, says Harrison, is to ensure that people remember who you are. “Be yourself as you are the brand,” he says. “People usually remember me as that guy with a Yorkshire accent, which is better than not being remembered at all.”

The Yorkshireman moved to New Zealand eight years ago and has put down roots in Wellington, where he lives with his wife and children. His career started after he gained a business and technology university degree that led to a job in marketing with an IT distributor. Harrison then made its way into business development and channel management roles, first with a distributor, then a partner and, more recently, with IBM.

He is passionate about IT and being part of a business which changes at what he describes as an incredible rate. “Only ten years ago server virtualisation was virtually unheard of,” he points out.

Harrison has long ago set aside his dream of becoming a Formula One driver since, as he puts it, “at 6 feet 4 inches tall, the odds are slightly remote”. His love for most motorsports hasn’t vanished, though. He is particularly fond of motorcycling but is also qualified as a referee for Capital Football (as of last year) and has been enjoying refereeing his kids’ games as well as some senior football matches.

At Veeam, where he manages the New Zealand channel market, Harrison says he is privileged to work “with a massive range of people from distributors, partners and clients” and also enjoys the “flexibility to tailor and implement Veeam’s worldwide strategies locally”.

Back in February, the company, now with 163 local partners, reported that New Zealand led the way for the company in year-over-year revenue growth, out of all markets in APAC. New Zealand’s revenue growth came in at 69 percent, two percentage points higher than the region as a whole.

From where he sits, he says business is marginally better this year compared with 2012. “Clients are spending, but in different ways and on different things. We are finally seeing uptake in opex-based cloud models, and affordable data protection continues to be top of mind for many smaller clients,” he says.

This year, he plans to continue finding and developing relationships with the right partners. “We’ve seen amazing growth over the last 24 months, and my goal is to take this to the next level by investing heavily in those partners who share the Veeam vision of becoming the leading modern data protection vendor in NZ.”

It is shaping up to be a busy year for Harrison who, with a young family, tries his best to achieve the perfect work/leisure balance. His secret? “Discipline and religious diary scheduling for general 'business hygiene' things like travel and expenses.” So far, so good.

Q+A

Where do you live now and where did you grow up and have lived before?

I’ve lived in Wellington (Upper Hutt to be precise) since emigrating from the UK eight years

ago. Prior to that I was born and bred in Leeds, which explains the Yorkshire accent that I think

I’m stuck with.

Are you married? Kids?

Married with three kids, although my eldest now lives with his fiancé in Auckland, so he pretty

much looks after himself these days.

What are you currently reading?

I usually have a motorcycle magazine in my backpack, although I enjoy sports biographies -

I’ve just finished reading Seeing Red by Graham Poll, a revealing insight into the world of the

professional football referee.

Who is your mentor? Or someone you admire professionally?

My old MD, Peter Wilkinson, the founder of Freeserve, Europe’s first free internet ISP, and a

managed services visionary, definitely shaped my early career. He was way ahead of his time

and a real character. I also learned a lot from Terry Dunn at Value Added Distributors (later

bought by Ingram Micro). He gave me a job when I first came to NZ on the back of a flaky

Skype interview call.

What's your favourite gadget?

Predictably my iPhone 5 – after over 10 years of being a devoted BlackBerry user I had to buy

my own phone for the first time at Veeam so thought I’d give an iPhone a go. I’m hooked

already - if only the battery would last longer than seven or so hours!

And your favourite website?

LinkedIn. I always use it to prepare for meetings and to start building relationships with new

contacts. It’s also a great competitive tool.

What's your drink of choice?

I’m a bit of a smoothie addict – but I am also partial to a German Bavarian lager called

Erdinger Weissbier. There’s a place in Hamilton that sells it online too.

What do you think has been the single most important advance in technology?

Without question the internet – not only because it has made the world truly a smaller place,

but that it lets me video call my 10 year old daughter when I’m travelling.

If you weren't in technology, what would you be doing?

Probably something in the automotive industry.


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