Ask anyone what their ideal way to relax after a long work week and their answer probably won’t be anything to do with running another business. Unless, of course, you are asking Faisal Khatib.
SMX’s recently appointed partner account manager works with the vendor’s channel partners during the week and says he stays sane by running his own business on the weekend, organising fashion events for upcoming designers and managing a couple of local RnB artists. On top of that, Khatib plays football for a couple of teams and has been playing cricket for Grafton United for the past eight years.
He has now joined the team at SMX after working at Connect NZ with its PABX team. He says the odd jobs he had as a student have helped shaped the person he is today.
“I gained valuable experience learning the New Zealand culture, the market, and most importantly, the people,” he says.
Since those days, he has worked at a number of IT companies in New Zealand, including EDS, now an HP-owned company, Accomplish and eAccounts Global. “One of the best things I like about the IT industry is the power to transform business by enabling innovation, which I believe adds a competitive advantage to a company,” he says, explaining why he has stayed in the industry for so long.
Khatib says being a “people person” is key to success in the industry. “In our line of business, trust is a major driver for building relationships. You can gain this by actually listening to what the vendor has to say. They are the ones who will talk to customers on a daily basis. Utilise this and try to understand what the market needs,” he says. “Do not tell porkies – it is okay to say “you don’t know the answer”. You will quickly lose trust if you try to wiggle your way out.”
In his new role at SMX, he says, “every day is different, every call is different and every meeting is different.
“My role includes developing a business case for working with the partner," he explains. "Selling the organisation and the benefits of working together to a prospective partner, assisting in the development of marketing and sales support materials, project managing the process of achieving sign-off, both within the organisation and the partner company, managing the ongoing relationship, including organising and documenting regular review meetings.
“The fact that not every day is the same keeps this job exciting. I meet and speak with new people/partners on a daily basis. I am able to combine my communication and interpersonal skills to develop and maintain relationships with various IT vendors here in New Zealand and Australia. I of course love the people I work with. Their passion and for the organisation and belief in the product gives you the assurance of a strong backing, thus keeping you motivated.”
According to Khatib, his focus for the next few months will “of course be on growth”.
“I want 100 percent of sales coming through the channel,” he adds. The company is not only looking to strengthen its ties with current partners but also to add more partners to the business. “Growth in SMX’s channel has become a major driver for SMX’s overall sales. This is forecasted to grow 50 percent year-on-year. Over the past 12 months, 40 percent of the company’s market growth has been attributed to the channel business across ANZ. I aim to exploit these figures where the channel will be the major sales driver for increased market share. I aim to do this by not only identifying new channel avenues, but also improving our current relationship with various channel partners.”
He says there are good times ahead, not only for SMX but for business in general in the country. “The New Zealand business market is definitely picking up and should keep rowing in the near future.”
Where do you live now and where did you grow up and have lived before?
Currently live in North Shore, Auckland. Was born in India. Dad’s work took us to Kensington in the UK, where I spent my childhood. Roots called parents back home so I spent my teens back in the crowded yet lively city of Mumbai, India. Decided I needed a change, so moved to New Zealand in early 2001 to study business at AUT.
What are you currently reading?
Currently reading Shantaram, which is a story about this Australian guy, who escapes from prison with a couple of other inmates. He lands in India and gets involved with the Indian mafia. This is a story about his life journey.
Who is your mentor? Or someone you admire professionally?
I have always looked up to my older brother Suhail "Ken" Khatib, growing up. Apart from my parents, he has always been there to guide me in the right direction professionally. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have moved to New Zealand to study business. His determination and hard work has helped him successfully run an advertising company called Adbuzz Australia for the past few years.
When you were little, what did you think you would be when you grew up?
As most of the kids in UK, I always wanted to be a football (soccer here in New Zealand) player. Being an Indian, cricket is in my genes. So thought I’d play cricket if football didn’t work out. Either ways, I always thought I would be a sports person.
What's your favourite gadget?
I think it has to be my iPhone. I have my world in it including, emails, contacts, photos, social networks and even the odd games for times when you want to get away from working.
What's your drink of choice?
My day doesn’t start without a nice cup of mocha.
What do you think has been the single most important advance in technology?
Single most advancement in technology I believe is social media and/or the mobile platform. It has brought tremendous empowerment to people like you and I and has touched not only our normal lives, from day to day communication to politics, but also changed the business competitive landscape. Today businesses cannot just rely on traditional practices to market and sell products.
If you weren't in technology, what would you be doing?.
Probably an architect.