Intergen marketing director Wayne Forgesson spent his childhood on a farm in the far north, but didn’t imagine it would lead to a more creative approach to his current job.
Now he lives on a small lifestyle block near Wellington, he’ll often be out tending to the vegetable crop or trimming trees on the property by firing up his chainsaw.
Forgesson spends the time gardening to relax after work, but often finds himself thinking up new ideas for Intergen’s marketing campaigns at the same time.
“I spend as much time as I can gardening both vegetables and flowers. I’ve dabbled with gardening for many years because where I grew up was nowhere near a dairy or supermarket. We had to grow our own produce.
“[Gardening is] very therapeutic but it is amazing how many left-field ideas pop into your head. I might be gathering potatoes and an idea for something we could be doing comes up. My team would tell you some of them are silly ideas, but that goes without saying,” he jokes.
Forgessen became interested in IT during his formative years at school.
“We had a maths teacher who received one of two computers that Te Puke High School had at the time. To me there was a shiny new thing in the corner that looked kind of cool, so we formed a computer club in fifth form.”
There’s not much of the industry he has not been involved with over the years, having had stints with Unisys and Wellington software development company Glazier.
“I could see huge potential in IT and what was coming further done the road. I went to a Unisys plant during the 1990s and got to see what they were releasing to the market in two years time.
“It has been very interesting and rewarding in a lot of ways. Over the years I have had some leadership roles at Unisys and Glazier. In my current role [at Intergen] I am the most underqualified marketer around, because I don’t have a marketing background.”
He was the company’s business development director for eight years before taking on the role.
Forgessen says he took on the position because he knows what marketing works best for the company.
“It is all about the brand which is yellow. If we’re in an environment where we can be proud of the brand or we’ve achieved some level of kudos, then why not be there to represent Intergen? Even my children look for clothes that are yellow.”
After leaving high school after completing seventh form, he got a job at the local freezing works as a data entry clerk.
“This was back in the day when the freezing works had three computers and I worked on one of them. A lot of the work was manual entering of data.”
In 1984 he moved to Auckland to work for Burrows, now Unisys, as an engineer.
“Like a lot of multinationals during the 1980s and ‘90s it was a fantastic breeding ground of New Zealand IT stars. The amount of training that they put people through was diverse.”
Forgesson spent most of his time driving around Auckland fixing computers at ASB branches before moving to Wellington and becoming a senior engineer. He remained at Unisys until 1997. His last role was as a PC salesman.
After that, he changed direction and joined a small software development company called Glazier Systems, which eventually became Intergen in 2001 after a management buyout by director Tony Stewart and Forgesson.
Both are now on the Intergen board and are major shareholders in the company .
Over the nine years, he says the biggest change has been the growth and success of the company.
“When we started in 2001 we had 38 staff and now we have 240 employees. We just had one office in Wellington and now we have offices in Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland, Sydney and Perth, so we’re now a multinational company.”
Intergen now achieves more than 25 percent per annum growth, with 10 percent of its work coming from the international market.
He says the company’s partner relationship with vendor Microsoft has also gone from strength to strength.
“The partnership is a recognition from them of the work we do for them in a number of ways. Part of Intergen’s underlying strategy is that we do well when Microsoft does well.”
Forgesson likes to go fishing when his two children aren’t keeping him and his wife busy with school sports and other activities.
“That’s a hobby I would like to do more of, but it is a major time commitment. I enjoy going out on the Cook Strait or fishing off the beach.”
He has a few fishing tales, including one about a fish he encountered in Fiji.
“I hooked a marlin that weighed about 90 kilos but it got away. That was lucky as I discovered afterwards that the charter boat company didn’t tag and release. I was relieved about that, as it was undersize.”
Looking to the future, Forgessen says the company wants to grow its operations in Australia and New Zealand.
“We want to focus on the things that we do well, which are development and managed services.”