Swapping a career in freight for another in IT 14 years ago is a decision Insite business development manager Jaynean Leaupepe has never regretted.
Since then, the technology industry has led her away from boredom and into what was at first an overwhelmingly fast-moving sector.
The Aucklander started at a company called Air Express International as an export runner in 1995, aged 18.
“That involved running documents down to Customs and getting them stamped for the exports and imports team. I did that for six months before I got bored running around with documents. I went to be their receptionist for three months.”
Following her receptionist role, Leaupepe moved to Roadstar, the long-haul trucking division of Air Express International. She stayed there as a costings clerk for six months before deciding to move on.
Her decision to go into the warehousing and distribution department at Air Express was a critical one, as it led to year-long customer services representative positions with Epson and Toshiba while she was with Air Express.
“Toshiba asked me if I wanted a job as their sales coordinator in 1997. That’s how my IT career kicked off.”
She says it was “an eye opener”, because she had intended to stay within the freight industry in a sales role.
“Going to a company like Toshiba was overwhelming because it was IT, notebooks and specifications that I had to learn. Freight just involved orders and I didn’t know that much about computers.”
But Leaupepe was a quick learner. “Toshiba had a huge reseller channel and that’s when [the resellers] were all having fun. We would jump on a boat for the day and take them across to Motuihe Island.”
In 1999, Leaupepe was headhunted again this time by Wang Laboratories, one of the accounts she managed at Toshiba.
She became an account manager with Wang, which became Gen-i in 2000, only to merge four years later with Computerland and subsequently be owned by Telecom.
“I didn’t get to see the merger first-hand because I was based on site at Air New Zealand’s datacentre,” says Leaupepe. “I was a guinea pig for Gen-i where they had put an account manager on site and worked within the infrastructure. You got to feel the customers’ pain and what they were going through.”
During that time she looked after Gen-i’s Westpac, Air New Zealand and Telecom accounts.
In late 2005, Leaupepe took up a product manager role with services company EDS, another role which took her to a customer site, this time at Telecom.
“I was the product manager for the Telecom account for the first year and during the second year they had me across at Fonterra as well. One of the major achievements I made at EDS was saving them thousands of dollars through a benchmarking tool I created to negotiate better pricing from one of the vendors.”
EDS put her through a service delivery cadetship, which meant she spent two days at Telecom’s Hereford Street site in Auckland, and three days at Airedale Street getting a feel for the operations and service delivery sides.
“We moved from Airedale Street to a datacentre in Nelson Street. That one didn’t have any windows, it was down in a basement. All the servers lived there so we were stuck in this dark cave.”
Leaupepe endured the ‘cave’ for five months before moving to Smales Farm on the North Shore.
“I was at Smales Farm for a month before I left because it was just too far for me to travel to and from work, as I live out [in] South [Auckland].”
Because of her location, and a desire to move back into sales, she applied for a role as a business development manager at Renaissance in mid-2007. She has been with the group ever since, moving to PC builder subsidiary Insite recently.
“Taking the role at Renaissance was to become more rounded. I now had the operational side and the sales side.”
Leaupepe says she chose Renaissance as she could learn more and make changes. “They’re really open to you using your initiative and being creative in sales. That’s why I have been there so long.”
She was business development manager for the NEC brand before the vendor closed its ANZ retail arm in March this year. According to Leaupepe, this was because NEC only had one percent of the ANZ market share.
She moved across to the networking and security division as business development manager and looked after Gen-i, Datacom, Fujitsu and Axon.
She says it was a challenge moving into the security side of the division, and when the role of BDM at Insite Technology came up, Leaupepe’s general manager, now executive divisional manager, Mark Dasent urged her to apply.
“He said it was more in my comfort zone dealing with desktops and notebooks. The whole build-to-order model is totally different compared to selling a main brand. I’m now developing the Insite brand and knowing the advantages of a build-to-order brand and how it can help customers and resellers, as well as building lead generation for the resellers.”
Less than three months into the role, Leaupepe has been calling around customers and getting feedback.
“That’s been good as it gives you a feeling of how you have to penetrate the market and get the [Insite] name out there. We specialise in the education market so getting to the business sector is what I have to do.”
Leaupepe looks after the whole of the North Island and has also been busy visiting resellers nationwide.
“I recently went up to Whangarei to meet some resellers. None of them were active [Insite] resellers so it was starting from scratch and sorting out my regions. I’d like to focus on three from each region and help develop their business instead of being spread too thinly.”
She is currently assessing who Insite’s resellers are in each region. “That’s one of my strengths - being a people person. I’ve done my homework on a lot of resellers and one of the things that is key is relationships. I like channel management and relationships.”
Leaupepe says she loves IT because of the lasting relationships. “Everyone knows everyone and moves around from company to company. I’m more passionate about this industry than freight.”