James Broadbridge went against his mother’s wishes when he went into IT, and describes his first role at the age of 17 years as “gopher”. However, he has made a successful climb through industry ranks and is now the sole local employee for Aruba Networks.
He took the solo territory role when systems engineer Keith Matarango left the vendor in July, allowing it to retain a presence in the country.
“I decided [Aruba] came out tops in the wireless networking vertical. It will be a good chance to work in the government and education space as well. I hope to spend most of my time in front of end-user customers,” he says. “The technology is fairly new to me, but it is all customer-facing and I enjoy that aspect. Being the only person in New Zealand means I have a heightened sales role in terms of managing clients.”
Broadbridge is kept busy flying around the country to meet with partners, although he says he is well supported by distributor Datastor. “They’re working hard for Aruba and I am enjoying working with them too,” he says. “I want to make my [sales] target and concentrate on the Aruba technical side. It is not just wireless kit, because it does a lot more than that.”
When he is not travelling, Broadbridge’s love of Italian machinery keeps him occupied. He owns an Aprilia Touno motorcycle - Touno is Italian for thunder - and says the bike does indeed make a thunderous sound when going at full throttle on the Wellington highways.
“I am not a long-distance rider, but it is a social thing. I go out with a few friends, stop for a coffee and just enjoy riding on the road. There are no clubs or patches involved.”
Broadbridge used to ride motorbikes as a teenager, but gave it up before having what he jokingly describes as a “mid-life crisis”, resuming the activity seven years ago.
“I started again because I wanted to get to work quicker [in Wellington]. There is something about riding a motorcycle that you don’t get when you’re driving a car.”
Broadbridge also plays social rugby for a President’s grade side, another activity he enjoyed earlier in life.
“I’m playing anywhere in the forwards such as prop or lock. I gave it up when I left school, but got back into it a few years ago.”
When he isn’t riding or on a rugby field, Broadbridge enjoys playing with his three children and their recent addition, a German Shepherd puppy.
“I’ve learnt an important lesson about puppies, they’re almost as much work as children. The dog adds an extra dynamic to the family and the kids love him.”
As a rugby player and supporter, he is counting down to the World Cup next year and is in a number of draws to get seats.
Back when he started in the industry in the 1980s Broadbridge didn’t have as much time for leisure activities,
“I was crawling around floors and ceilings installing IBM terminals and printers,” he says of his first role at networking firm NCIS. “The pay was really good though and I was getting pay rises every six months up until the stockmarket crash in 1987.”
He went against family wishes when he entered IT, as his mum wanted him to become an accountant.
“I was going to take a year off before university and work so I started in accountancy and hated it.”
One memorable role was at UK telecommunications company Telewest from 1999 to 2000, where he was a network systems manager.
“That was cool as I only had three guys to manage and I learnt about networking. It was contracting, so the money was really good. The late ‘90s were like the mid ‘80s, there was so much money to be thrown at projects. I had a free hand and any budget I needed for a project got signed up.”
However, he and his partner got homesick during their first British winter and came back to New Zealand after one year.
He worked at New Zealand Post from 1987 to 1989 and spent nine years at Data General, later acquired by EMC.
“I did a lot of Unix work as well as storage, but didn’t get into networking until quite late. Data General was a great place to work.”
Broadbridge also branched out into telecommunications roles with stints at Ericsson and TelstraClear, before becoming an IP network consultant at Nspire Technologies prior to joining Aruba.
After more than 20 years in IT, he says it is the people and good salaries that keep him hooked.
“It’s very hard to get out of IT once you’re in it, because the money is so good and it is not that difficult.”