2012 has only just started and it is already shaping up to be a big year for Jade Software. The company, as managing director Craig Richardson explains, is two years into a three-year transformation process that will ultimately see them focusing “more on products rather than systems and processes”.
“We’re doing very well,” he says. “We’re very happy with our progress, especially because of the current economic situation.” Richardson believes, however, that there is always room for improvement and opportunities to grow and become bigger and better.
That’s exactly what his plan for 2012 entails. He explains that Jade has made a decision to “focus on what gives us a competitive advantage”. Those areas include government risk and compliance (through Methodware, of which Jade is the parent company) and mobile integration platforms, through Joob, another one of Jade’s subsidiaries.
This year will also mark the launch of Jade’s new company, which Richardson says he cannot yet name, taking Jade into the security and law enforcement area. “It is very exciting,” says the MD, adding that “New Zealand has a lot of credibility in this area”.
Richardson says that, overall, he thinks austerity measures will continue to have a negative impact on technology innovation in large enterprises this year, much like it happened in 2011. He believes, however, that there will be a bigger push for mobile this year (which is why Joob Mobile will be one of the company’s key focuses).
According to the MD, Jade will remain focused on the New Zealand market but will also put a strong emphasis on growing its business in the Asia Pacific and UK regions. “We are also in talks to enter the US market at the end of this year,” he adds.
All these big moves will be challenging but that is something Richardson is used to face. His lengthy background has seen him in senior roles for big corporations, in charge of finance and business strategy. He was the vice president of Finance for New Zealand Steel before moving on to become CFO of Coca Cola Amatil for New Zelaand & Fiji and president of CPA Australia (in New Zealand), before becoming Jade’s managing director.
He currently holds a number of other titles on top of his work with Jade. He is chairman and independent director of SmallWorlds, independent director of Enable Networks and director of Monday Limited. He is also a fellow at CPA Australia and director of humanitarian not-for-profit organisation SISHA (South East Asia Investigations into Social and Humanitarian Activities).
Most of his days, he says, are spent on planes and meetings. Family life and leisure time sometimes suffer from that but he says that, although that is “one of the challenges”, he has an “incredibly tolerant wife and children”.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. It’s a very interesting book.
Do you have a mentor or someone you admire professionally?
I have a few mentors. My board [at Jade Software] is incredibly important and supportive. I also have a group of people who are also very helpful.
What advice would you give to someone starting in the same business as you?
You have to balance your technical solutions with your marketing and sales expertise. There is no point in having the party if you don’t send out the invitations.
When you were little, what did you think you would be when you grew up?
I thought I would be a carpenter. Good thing I didn’t or we would probably have a lot of leaky homes in New Zealand.
Do you have a favourite sport?
Yes, basketball. I also enjoy watersports.
And a favourite gadget?
I have to say the iPhone.
What about a favourite website?
I’m not sure about a favourite website but my favourite app is the Flipboard app for the iPad.
What is your drink of choice?
I have a long history with them so I have to say Coca-Cola. [Richardson was the CFO f Coca-Cola Amatil for nearly three years.]
What is it that you like about the IT industry?
There is always opportunity to build new solutions, there isn’t a massive infrastructure constraint. Your imagination is your limitation.
What do you consider to be your major strengths or skills?
I’m really open to new ideas. I am not the smartest person but I can aggregate ideas and market needs. I like to think that I can pull those together. I’m not precious about my ideas.