After working in the IT industry for more than 20 years, Juniper county manager Ian Quinn’s favourite time out situation is to get dirt on his hands.
Quinn owns a one hectare lifestyle block north of Wellington and most of his time is spent in the garden or working around the section.
So it is no surprise that while a student, Quinn had aspirations of becoming a Department of Conservation officer.
“When I was at secondary school those were the two options I was considering [conservation and IT]. Working outdoors in conservation would have been rewarding in its own sense.”
Quinn’s first step into IT was through starting a computer science degree at Victoria University in Wellington in 1987.
“I got a holiday job with the GCS [Government Computing Service] in 1988 and through that experience ended up staying in the industry.”
Quinn completed one more year of study before shelving the books and going to GCS full-time in 1990.
“As soon as I was exposed to the real world it really opened my eyes to where the opportunities were. Work seemed more exciting than study at varsity.”
Quinn left GCS just before the company was acquired by EDS in 1994.
He went to Synet Communications that later became Datacom Networks. Synet provided X.25 frame relay and managed network services, along with consultancy.
“I started working as a consultant, which was pretty varied. It was everything from looking at customers who had application problems running across our frame relay network, to projects such as one at Te Papa.”
The project involved installing IT systems and network infrastructure, that supported the exhibition platforms when the museum opened in Wellington.
Quinn’s next move was to value added distributor Interconnect, in 1997.
“I ended up doing a lot of work in the service provider space, with dialup access for internet services. I worked there for three years and at that point Interconnect signed up Juniper as a partner. I think they were the first non-investor partner in the world to sign up.”
He made friends among the Juniper team so decided to join in the middle of 2000.
“When I first joined, I worked around Asia Pacific from India to Singapore helping out different sales teams. It was a good opportunity to get a wider perspective on the market. Some of those markets have a lot of things in common with New Zealand, but there are also quite a few differences. Sometimes it’s common technology, but a different set of drivers behind the deployment.”
Quinn was initially a systems engineer doing pre-sales, a role he held for four years. He then oversaw the service provider team for Australia and New Zealand for four years.
“Last year we decided to spin New Zealand off as its own organisation to have one team and get more leverage from the people that we’ve got on the ground here.”
So at the beginning of 2009 Quinn took up the country manager role.
“I have been working in the Juniper business for nine years so it’s familiar territory, but at the same time there are a new set of challenges and things to learn and be aware of.”
Quinn enjoys meeting partners, which he says is an important aspect of the job given Juniper operates a 100 percent channel model.
“Partners are really important to us. We are a company that builds good networking and security gear, but fundamentally it’s the partners that pull together the wider solutions that customers are after. They are critical to our success.”
As country manager, Quinn says he is engaging with many of its larger partners.
“One of the important things for partners is orientating the conversations they have with their customers around the challenges their customers face, and giving them options, rather than fronting up and quoting from a vendor spec sheet.
“For a partner to play that role of trusted advisor, they have to be able to offer choice to the end customer. Part of our brief is to make sure those partners are aware of where we have strengths versus some of the other players in the market.”
Quinn believes Juniper can benefit from the economic downturn.
“With people looking at spending more critically, it has been a good thing for Juniper. Rather than people continuing to buy the same solutions they have always bought, it forces them to re-evaluate what is the best option in the market.
“We are seeing Gartner studies showing up to 30 percent Capex savings when you have a contestable network environment. That’s something that has been resonating a lot more strongly with customers over the past 12 to 18 months.”
Looking back at his time in the industry, constant change is what stands out most for Quinn.
“We’ve been through dial up, broadband and now the government’s fibre to the home proposal. The technology is constantly evolving.”
Being based in Wellington helps Quinn to leverage relationships within the government sector. “We take the opportunity when they’re putting papers or policies up for consultation to put forward submissions on them.”
Juniper recently sent in a submission for the fibre to the home proposal. It advocated that as well as building out a layer one infrastructure, a dynamic layer two wholesale service would go a long way to creating a competitive retail market.
“There would be space for a wider variety of parties to innovate and deliver new services,” he says.
Strengthening relationships with key resellers is high on Quinn’s agenda. “We’ve done a lot of work investing in our partner’s ability to sell and integrate our networking solutions into their wider offerings. That’s key to our future success.”