He is only five months into his new job but Vaughan Nankivell is excited to be back in the distributors arena in his role as Simms’ general manager for corporate and enterprise, looking after customers and educating them about products and how they can help their business.
It is a sales and strategic position, more than a technical role, one in which engagement with customers and partners is more important than ever, as new technologies enter the market at an ever-faster pace.
“The reseller market is in a state of change and we have seen significant growth in all sectors,” Nankivell says. “The boundaries are blurring, the models and processes are changing.”
Cloud computing is one of the big factors driving change in the marketplace. But it is not the only one.
“Users are changing,” Nankivell says. “They are using tablets and smartphones and working remotely from anywhere. There are lots of new technologies emerging.”
In a manner of speaking, change is the one constant for Nankivell, who has had to adapt to quite a bit of it over the years.
“If there was a plan for my 20 years in the industry, no-one shared it with me,” he says, jokingly.
He started his career in Auckland, working in the Bank of New Zealand’s accounting department. He soon moved into IT, first working for Air New Zealand, then moving to the US, where he was “a Kiwi kid trying to sell electronic parts.”
He has been married to his wife, Lora, for 23 years. The couple has raised two sons together, now 18 and 17 years old. Family was the reason Nankivell decided to return to New Zealand in 2002 when he realised that “the kids didn’t even know their cousins”.
Nankivell’s overseas work experience gave him a solid foundation to return to the New Zealand IT industry, with an understanding of how size and culture affect the way a market functions.
“It’s not a matter of one being bad and another being good.” Nankivell says. He likes what he sees in back home.
“The US is, of course, a very different place, “ he says. “It’s harder because of the scale and the numbers. Also the New Zealand culture is different.”
According to Nankivell, even the Australian market is different from New Zealand. He says the “ANZ” denomination is merely the fruit of geographical convenience.
“That’s the problem with multinationals,” he says. “They tend to carve the world vertically and see us as part of Asia. It’s not fair. We’re a western culture and a western market. In many aspects, we are similar to the US and similar to the UK. We probably have more in common with South Africa than we do with Asia, so maybe they should carve the world horizontally to avoid being lost in translation.”
Nankivell, nevertheless, counts his company as astute enough to avoid this trap.
“As a distributor, you get the variants that come with working with multiple vendors,” he says. “When you sit down with them, you should ask them, are they experts in their market, what you need to do to help them.”
Working with diverse vendors also means that no day is the same for him. Nankivell says his rule of thumb is to “never let the urgent crowd out the important”, so he typically reviews each day at the end and prioritises what needs to be accomplished the following day. “This involves meetings, phone calls, reading and replying to emails, the usual stuff. It is varied and as a distributor, I have initiatives in play constantly across all our core vendors.”
Playing his guitar, recording music and or hitting a few balls on the golf course are some of the ways Nankivell enjoys his time away from IT.
His busy days are balanced with quality family time and it was a long time ago that Nankivell decided that an equilibrium between those two was essential to him. He says that balance is “something embodied by Simms as an employer and incorporated into their values”, but it is up to each employee to commit the time required to do the job effectively. For the general manager, boundaries between work and personal life cannot be broken.
“For example, years ago, my wife and I made a commitment to leave our cellphones downstairs in the home office when we got home from work. So when we went upstairs for the evening to the main living area in the house, it was family time,” he says.