Mason Pratt has worked in IT since leaving university and the fast-moving nature of the industry has provided all the necessary career challenges.
In 2001, at 25, he founded
Provoke, which is now a Microsoft gold level online consulting firm.
“One of the really exciting aspects of my role at Provoke [as CEO] is the chance to work with clients across all industry verticals, which means I am always learning new stuff.”
Pratt enjoys the dynamism of the IT sector.
“This helps keep my short attention span in check. I am also surrounded by really bright people and that is invigorating, but it is more than that. I work with an awesome team that know how to work and play hard. While we try not to take ourselves too seriously, we do know how to knuckle down when it is time to get the job done,” he says.
“Ten years is the longest stint I have had with one company, although I have been in the industry 15 years. While I am primarily accountable to myself and my business partners, loneliness goes with the territory and certain decisions can be scary to make. Generally you have got a manager to make decisions, but I don’t have someone to defer to, hence the loneliness.”
Pratt has a staff pool whose average age is 29. “It takes me back to the fact that we’re a young team brimming with talent,” he says.
Playing golf whenever he gets the chance is one way he likes to relax.
“I’ve been playing golf since I was a teenager, although judging by my form you would be safe in assuming I have only just started learning,” he says.
He usually plays at the Wellington course, Judgeford.
“I find the majority of golf I get these days is corporate. It is either us going out with clients or being involved in tournaments with our suppliers.”
Although Pratt has also surfed and skied since the age of 12, he hasn’t been able to do either of these for the last five years because he has been so busy. But he has found time for a new hobby – home beer brewing – which he says will be his “new summer project”.
Pratt’s three children take up most of his spare time outside the office.
Prior to starting Provoke, he worked at GoGlobal, one of the country’s early web design companies.
“I developed software in the 1990s with only a basic grasp of programming. GoGlobal taught me the value of teamwork and effective delegation – it was a pioneer in the web design space and there were not many local companies like that.
“That said, my technical grounding was a means to an end that put me in good stead for the job I am doing now. I can still hold my own in a conversation with someone technical and use my knowledge of the business to bridge the gap.”
GoGlobal was subsequently acquired by Glazier Systems and after that was sold to Advantage Group. Pratt left Advantage to set up Provoke.
He says the company has navigated the recent downturn and come out stronger.
“Our pipeline of work is steady and Provoke’s industry mindshare regarding Sharepoint and Microsoft’s cloud is growing every day. We are back into growth mode and that is exciting, particularly in the Auckland market.”
He says the company is now in a position to take the brand offshore to Australia and Asia.
“We are just evaluating those options at the moment and Australia seems like a logical choice, given its similarity to the local market. We are also looking at an office in Asia.”
Provoke also recently launched a research and development company.
“This will afford us the chance to explore product development initiatives and other projects.”
As the New Zealand Rugby Union is a Provoke client, Pratt is an enthusiastic rugby supporter.
“I’m one of those diehard Wellington supporters who get their heart broken every season, whether it be Super 14 or the NPC.”