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From Army corporal to data recovery specialist

From Army corporal to data recovery specialist

Industry veteran Brian Eardley-Wilmot closes this year's Coffee Break series with a positive message

Industry veteran Brian Eardley-Wilmot is known in the local IT scene for his enviably long CV, but he is looking at the future, not at what is behind him.

Eardley-Wilmot is busy running Computer Forensics NZ (CFNZ), New Zealand's only company dedicated solely to what he describes as the science of data recovery, for both commercial and paralegal purposes throughout Australasia and the South Pacific. The company, which he set up back in 1999, has a significant presence in Australia, where it trades as Data Recovery Australia.

Australia will be Eardley-Wilmot's big focus in the coming year, as he works on further expanding business on the other side of the Tasman. He also says local business will continue to grow. "It is my firm belief that our country has been through the worst and with continuing sensible economic management we can look forward to better times ahead than can our trading partners," he says.

Eardley-Wilmot knows a thing or two about business, to say the least. His CV seems to encompass the recent history of IT distribution in the country. Over the last 15 years, he has taken roles such as president of the Information Technology Association of New Zealand, director of the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation, chairman and co-convenor of the World Communication Laboratory, director of business in the Community Limited, member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and member of the New York Academy of Sciences. Alongside those roles, he set up and ran a number of prestigious businesses, including CED Distributors, which he established after leaving Racal Australia. With CED, he gained sole rights to distribute Apple Computer products throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific.

He sold the company in 1984 and, with his wife Maureen, started the software distribution company Brimaur Services International. In 1986 Brimaur gained the sole rights to distribute Microsoft products throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific, acting as an ad hoc Microsoft country subsidiary until Microsoft opened its own NZ office in 1992. He then went on to sell Brimaur, becoming active as a property investor and business mentor.

As a child, Eardley-Wilmot says he was fascinated with the concept of radio and electronics which all led to a "huge enthusiasm for the concept of personal computing". This interest fuelled the start of his IT career which was solidified by his successful application to Steve Jobs in 1978 to gain the sole rights to distribute Apple in the region.

Looking back, his career could have been a lot different. He joined the Australian Army as an apprentice at 15, "thankfully getting out nine years later, having achieved the dizzy heights of a corporal".

"Interestingly enough, some five years later as sales manager for an electronics company, I employed my former company commander," he recalls.

He trained at the Army Apprentices School in Balcombe, Victoria, as a radio mechanic so, as it turned out, his IT career was already in motion then.

These days, Eardley-Wilmot is a "front-office sort of a person", working with current and prospective clients and spending most of his time determining sales and marketing strategies. When it comes to the reasons that led him to stay in the industry all these years, he gives a straight up answer: "It makes money". That is the first but not the only reason, though, especially considering his particular sector of data recovery. "A close second is typically the satisfaction that my company has recovered critical business data for enterprises that would be severely affected, in some cases put out of business without it. Also we offer a data recovery service throughout Australia and it’s always great to beat the Aussies on their own turf," he says. "It also gives me pleasure to successfully complete a computer investigation proving a company’s suspicion that a present or past employee has committed a civil or criminal offence against the company."

Q+A

What are you currently reading?

Broken by Karin Slaughter.

Who is your mentor? Or someone you admire professionally?

In the New Zealand context the late Trevor Eagle. He was a very energetic man both mentally and physically, also a great mentor.

Do you have any favourite sports?

Sorry, not a sporty type. When I was 15 I played my first and only game of rugby and nearly got my ear ripped off. Tried tennis but didn’t seem to have the necessary co-ordination, then tried golf, never broke 100 and gave my clubs away. Great watching the All Blacks, providing it’s not early in the morning.

What's your favourite gadget?

Has to be the Android Tablet, sadly not an Apple device which I regard as excellent for email, e-reader and multi media, but no good for MS Office and not expandable.

And your favourite website?

Same as the rest of the world I guess - Google

What's your drink of choice?

Used to be gin and bitter lemon but now merlot or cab sav.

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

The transistor, being the genesis of the micro-circuitry found in virtually every appliance.

What do you consider to be your major strengths or skills?

The ability to stick to the knitting, and a true understanding that success is not possible unless one’s company’s focus is absolutely on customer service.

How do you keep the work/leisure balance?

With the aid of VPN and excellent staff, it is not necessary for me to be at the office 9 hours a day, 5 days a week – read - laptop down at the pool.


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