My first day working with resellers was as a customer services representative in distribution. I arrived and eagerly waited to meet my new boss, who had been hired between my interview and my start date. Like many people, the allure of electronics like computers and cellphones filled me with unbridled excitement. There I was, ready to begin, and my new boss opened the dialogue with the statement: “Welcome to the industry that no longer makes millionaires.”
How did I end up here?
After leaving university with a BCom, I spent the next six years travelling to every continent, except Antarctica. I worked in a wide variety of roles including courier, ski lift operator, patent attorney’s clerk and in the accounts office of the world’s third largest investment bank. As that life ran its course, I, at the age of 28 wanted to have a career, and we come back to my passion for electronics.
I found my pace quickly and moved from distribution to a small software and infrastructure reseller. I started in procurement, or as I referred to it a personal shopper for geeks. The company I joined was an organisation dealing with the repercussions of extreme success, a company that has become so successful in one vertical that it was able to be spun off and sold to overseas interests. There I was in the arena of success. Several of those involved in this venture may never need to work again, but I of course had arrived about two years after this accomplishment.
During my three years with this team, I learned several things. Firstly, be great at one thing, absolute excellence is a far greater income generator than being able to do everything. Secondly, those who have done it once have usually learned how hard that can be and that knowledge may stop them from wanting to do it again. Finally, there are still multi-million dollar opportunities out there.
However the results upon completion of this role were mixed. A review of my finances proves that at this stage I have yet to convert effort and persistence into million dollar pay cheques. What I have been given is the advantage of experience; I am lacking only the ownership and control.
In my latest role, I am working as a business development manager. On a daily basis, I am working on consolidating old industry verticals including IT, communications and audio visual as they cross deep into each other’s boundaries. My focus is on a unified model of these office technologies and building ways to reduce the complexity of integration, management and support, a lofty goal of one pitch to rule them all.
In this pursuit, one thing has become very clear. The value of our industry as a whole has been identified, measured and those who can consolidate through virtualisation and hosted services across international borders are coming to compete in our local market. The crunch has arrived fully formed and those who are not willing to gear up to compete will not be able to survive.
Over my last six years in the New Zealand technology industry, I have come to both love the innovations that we have been able to achieve and be frustrated by the inefficiencies. There are shining examples of software developers, hosted services, and hardware manufactures grown out of New Zealand that are having an impact on the world. My goal in this column is to introduce you to the concepts that will help you to focus on becoming the next M86, Xero or Rankon.
Sure, we are in an industry that no longer makes millionaires, we have to earn it but that doesn’t mean there isn’t help out there. In the words of the Billy T James, “Let’s drink up and go get ‘em”.