Alexander swings into HP action

Alexander swings into HP action

If Hamish Alexander had his way, he would play golf all the time.

The Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) country manager is a self-confessed golf fanatic with a handicap of eight.

“It’s hard to play golf in the winter but even if it’s raining I will go and play.”

He has played with Tiger Woods’ caddie Steve Williams in Christchurch and his favourite golf course is in Helensville, Auckland. This is closely followed by Callum Heights in Queenstown.

“The scenery is up there with the overseas courses, it’s not so much about the course.”

When Alexander was living in Sydney, his family was still based in New Zealand so he would play on Saturday and Sunday.

Alexander also enjoys fishing for snapper and rock fishing. If it’s a hard to reach place that takes an hour to walk to, he will happily go along.

He even managed to spend the night on a rock with three mates at a spot near Piha after misjudging when the tide was coming back in.

“We had a bottle of whiskey with us so we were okay,” he laughs.

“Everyone was looking for us the next day but we were fine.”

After 14 years in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, Alexander is a relative latecomer to IT.

He worked in a number of FMCG divisions including pharmacy, grocery and hair salons.

Among his FMCG roles was a memorable stint at Japanese health and beauty company Shiseido, as a regional director.

“I travelled with three Japanese gentlemen acting as an interpreter for them as their English was non-existent. We travelled throughout New Zealand, Australia and the US.”

After this, he worked for pharmaceutical firm BDM Grange.

He says switching to IT was opportunistic, as he wanted to see what IT was all about.

Alexander made the transition during his time at Nutech, now a division of local stationery company Croxley, whose agencies include Brother and HP.

“All the disciplines from FMCG are very different, so it took awhile to adapt and adjust.”

However, Alexander says both FMCG and IT are intense, quickly-changing sectors.

“FMCG is a very fast-paced environment where you have to react quickly. The volumes are huge and the negotiations are tough. Although there is a different skill set required, the selling [in IT] is still needs based.”

He shifted to HP five years ago as a sales and marketing manager, and says going from a small New Zealand business to “the machine” - as he likes to call HP - was a lot easier because of his prior experience with the vendor’s printers.

“Once you’re in the Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) it’s quite an exciting place to be. I was the delegate to the vice president, so anything new that came along within IPG that needed to researched or developed was given to me.”

Alexander also spent three years in Australia as HP’s business development manager and retail photo business manager.

“Sydney was a great place to live and I miss it. My role was an Asia Pacific one so I travelled around Asia a lot developing the photo [division].”

As retail photo business manager, he helped secure retail photo kiosks in Kmart stores across ANZ.

“HP is either at number one or number two [in terms of sales] for most products we do, but in photo kiosks we were at number four. The software wasn’t there and print speeds and volumes weren’t there. It took us a good two years before we got things right.”

He also learnt about different Asian cultures and how to work within those cultures.

“Working across IPG has given me a thorough understanding of the printing needs of everyone, from consumers to large enterprises.”

His first strategy as country manager is to build the IPG team. He has hired five new staff and says the culture has changed to have more of a sales focus.

Three staff have been hired in the consumer team and two in the enterprise space. Alexander says this is designed to build up its strength and intellectual knowledge.

“We’re very good at selling boxes but we want to be a printing company, not a printer company.”

He also wants IPG to take a more focused approach to partners.

“We’re offering incentives such as office print specialisation which is specifically designed for partners. We want to understand what their pain points are and work through how we can grow together.

The New Zealand market is relatively small and the enterprise space for print is not that big. Being able to capture and allow partners that play in that space to have an offer that’s compelling.”

To interact with partners more closely, the IPG division will also be taking part in the Ingram Micro Showcase and Exeed’s series of roadshows.

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