Industry veteran Roger Bennett has recently taken on the role of business development manager for Allied Telesis, working with the vendor on expanding its reseller channel in the Northern region.
This new role comes after Bennett was made redundant from his BDM role at distributor Renaissance. His path in the IT industry is now long and varied but this is not the industry where Bennett started and not even where he imagined he would be in his younger years. His career started in the textile industry working for Bonds NZ in Wellington. Two years later, after finishing his training at the Auckland Technical Institute, he qualified as a textile technician and decided it was time to take off on his OE. He spent three years in England and travelling through Europe before returning down under to a job in Brisbane, still in the textile industry.
It was his work in that industry that started off his experience with IT. “On my return to New Zealand, I worked for TVT Sockware, making socks This was my first introduction to the Windows PC as the sock machines needed to be programmed by PCs (Windows 3.11). Our PCs also needed RAM upgrades and the man from Datastor, Vic Dickerson, who was in the unit next to ours in Bush Road, did the upgrade personally,” he recalls.
Bennett moved from making socks to working for a distributor in textile machinery, Ramsay McDonald.
“This was the start of my sales career. I sold my first Nedgraphics computer system to Feltex carpets for over $200k,” he says.
Bennett then moved onto selling speech recognition systems (Dragon Naturally Speaking) before moving onto 4Front Technology at a time when Philips Free Speech was launched to the New Zealand market.
“That is when I also first met a chap called Warwick Grey [currently Microsoft’s partner account manager for distribution] who was at Corel – as Philips Free Speech was included in Word Perfect,” says Bennett. As the years progressed, Bennett held roles with companies such as Krome Technologies, Acquire, and Kinectics.
Over the years, Bennett has met a number of people who have inspired him to further pursue his love for sales and IT. Among his IT mentors, he highlights the roles of Acquire’s Simon Scott “who gave me the customer service ethics I have”.
“Other leaders of the industry that I also respect are Warwick Grey, Tony Butler, Justin Tye, Vic Dickerson and Andrew Hunt,” he says.
Bennett says business is improving, especially in his networking area. “There are so many projects that were on hold that are now turning into sales. I can see the next year improving,” he adds.
He says he has been busy working with Allied Telesis partners “helping them win deals”, as well as “building a reseller channel in the Northern region”.
“I will be visiting the regional resellers and partners monthly as they are just as important as the big city ones,” he adds. He is putting a strong focus on reaching out to smaller resellers outside the big cities as he says there are opportunities to expand that way and those resellers often “feel left out”. “I’m really enjoying getting out into those regions and we are looking for more resellers to engage with,” he adds.
Looking after resellers is what Bennett has been doing for a number of years and he cannot imagine himself doing anything else. “Having also worked as a reseller for a number of years I understand what resellers require from their supply partners. By developing and partnering with my clients, this means working with resellers to help them achieve their goals and objectives with their customers. I am an evangelist when it comes to technology, I know my products and I also have an excellent knowledge of the New Zealand IT industry,” he says.
And, as Bennett puts it, it is best if he keeps resellers happy “as you never know where you will end up in the future”.
Where do you live now and where did you grow up and have lived before?
I live in Blockhouse Bay and grew up in Wellington. Over the years, I have lived in England (Woking, Godalming and Cambridge) and Australia (Brisbane).
Are you married? Kids?
I am married to Diane and have two great kids - a son, 14 and daughter, 11.
What are you currently reading?
Part 3 of The Hunger Games – Mockingjay. Starting on the The Dune Chronicles. All on the iPad as its bookmarks don’t fall out.
When you were little, what did you think you would be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a policeman.
Do you have any favourite sports?
Golf and skiing when time is made for it.
And your favourite website?
That would have to be my blog, www.bennett-nz.com. Tech site, that would be http://dvice.com/
What's your drink of choice?
Good coffee in the morning and a nice good brewed cup of tea in the afternoon.
If you weren't in technology, what would you be doing?.
Working in the horticulture industry.
How do you keep the work/leisure balance?
We now live in a ‘on all the time’ connected work world. Work is work but you need down time and I have found that I can turn off the phone when I have to and spend the quality time with family and friends.