His first name means “visionary” and can also be literally translated as “dreamer”. And that is exactly how Swapneil Diwaan likes to think of himself. Diwaan has been part of Gen-i’s procurement team since November last year and has been busy looking after about 100 of Gen-i’s corporate customers.
Diwaan was born in Mumbai, India, where he also grew up. Both of his parents and sister are doctors so he always thought that would be his career path too. “While growing up, I saw three doctors at home, parents and then elder sister, and soon realised, I was more into technology than bio-sciences. Later, I was all geared up to become a photographer and film maker, and pursued it to some extent,” he recalls. Diwaan took programming courses while still in school in India and soon became fascinated with that world, as it also allowed him to explore his creativity. The move away from the medical school plans, he says, was almost a natural one: “If you see too much of one thing, you tend to move away from it.” He ended up starting a career as a child actor in India, acting in a number of films and TV series on national television. His career path since those times in the spotlight has been nothing short of diverse: “As an adult, I have worked as a door-to-door computer salesman, as a call centre CSR serving mobile customers from AT&T US, as intern with Dun & Bradstreet in Risk Management Solutions and telemarketing executive with APN Holdings,” he lists. He has also had a number of ICT roles, including roles at Renaissance, Total Network and Orb Communications. “The combined telco and IT experience has helped me build an ICT specialist profile,” he says. He believes his role at Gen-i, while technical, still allows him to use his creativity. He says he does not like to be labelled or categorised and fitting into one job title is not always easy. If asked what he does for a living, Diwaan says: “I work in the ICT industry in New Zealand, l love to look after customers and design solutions that are a win-win for everyone involved.” According to him, he chooses to refer to the industry he is in as ICT rather than IT because the communications component of it is so important. “The pace in reseller-land is very fast. The customer is king. It’s at this level that you really feel it,” says Diwaan. “Whatever project they have, that means hardware and it comes to me to spec up. I work with client managers to design a solution and negotiate pricing to get the best deal for the client,” he adds. “As a corporate IT specialist, clients expect us to know everything about everything. And why not? We are in the business of making it easy for clients to manage their IT needs,” he further adds. “A typical day involves researching on new products, negotiating pricing, attending client meetings and designing a solution to get a win-win for clients and vendors.” Diwaan believes that working in New Zealand has its own set of challenges and he embraces those as opportunities to innovate. “In a small market like New Zealand you need to be more creative and you really have to innovate. It’s more challenging but also more exciting. I love the fact that I’m adding some value.” From his role at Gen-i, Diwaan sees activity in the industry picking up this year. “This isn’t necessarily translating into sales,” he says, “but in three to six months maybe I’ll be cracking up the targets. I’m definitely optimistic, we’re picking up new clients all the time.” This year, Diwaan is focused on consolidating his position at Gen-i, “show them that I’m a team player and get certifications”. Q+A Where do you live now and where did you grow up and have lived before? I live in Auckland and grew up in Mumbai, India. I completed 5 years in NZ, this Waitangi day! Are you married? Kids? I am married to a beautiful and graceful lady and have a son who is 6 months old. What are you currently reading? Trying to read Steve Jobs Autobiography by Walter Isaacson, when not changing diapers. Who is your mentor? Or someone you admire professionally? My parents have been my mentors in all walks of life. They have taught me everything I know, and don’t know yet! Profesisonally, I am still seeking a mentor. What would be the best advice you could give to someone in the same business as you? I don’t believe I am at a stage where I can give people advice. But I live by the following advice some of the seniors gave me – knowledge, integrity and hard work all pays off in the end. If it hasn’t yet, it’s not the end! So keep trying. Do you have any favourite sports? It will sound obvious but I loved cricket. In NZ, I played as top order batsman for a team in Onehunga Cricket Association tournament for 2 seasons. Currently, am playing inter-club at very amateur level with Lynfield Tennis Club. Besides, these I represented my school & college in cricket and table tennis. What's your favourite gadget? My favourite gadget will have to be my iPad2. Just love it! And your favourite website? Knowledge@Wharton (http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm) and YouTube – especially TED videos. What's your drink of choice? Glenfiddich - Scotch What do you think has been the single most important advance in technology? I believe with the current pace of innovation in various disciplines like biotechnology, nanotechnology, fibre optics etc, anything I say would be debatable. I guess a simplistic choice would be to say “internet / networking” If you weren't in technology, what would you be doing? Making films and writing books.