Enterprise IT CEO Stuart Speers still can’t believe how fast his 17 years in IT have gone by. Though the catalyst for his career came about when he was an accountancy office junior at Wattie’s Frozen Foods (now Heinz Wattie’s) in Hastings in 1989.
“I always liked maths. But when I started doing accountancy papers through Wattie’s I thought ‘this is boring’.”
After only doing four papers Speers ditched accountancy and focused on IT. He ended up becoming very involved with Wattie’s IT, which was than in its infancy, helping implement local desktops and LANs.
“I got transferred to Christchurch with Wattie’s and ended up staying with the company for five years [until 1995]. That was when I got into Oracle and established one of the first Oracle sites in New Zealand [in Christchurch].” Speers was than transferred to Wattie’s head office in Auckland where he was the support manager for the company’s regional offices. He managed user applications and worked with the whole Oracle and Linux suite.
In 1995 Speers decided it was time for a change and moved to Air New Zealand, where he helped establish the first Oracle DBA.
“Air New Zealand only had eight [IT] databases then and they weren’t really standardised systems.”
During his time there Speers watched as the internet began to take off in New Zealand, albeit on dial up using modems.
Two years later he moved again, this time to Datacom. “I managed to get a transfer back to the Hawkes Bay [for one year] which was great for family and lifestyle reasons.”
Then it was back to Auckland in 1998. The next year Speers began working for Data4 where he remained until 2001. He was sub contracted by the company to Fujitsu at Air New Zealand.
Speers remembers the ‘Y2K bug’ hysteria vividly as he was working with Air New Zealand on behalf of Fujitsu to upgrade its systems.
“At midnight on December 31, 1999 I was in the datacentre to make sure all the hard work we had put in upgrading the end to end systems would pay off. When midnight rolled around there were no problems, but we didn’t open the champagne until 1am.”
Speers says he still had to keep a watchful eye on the datacentre that night as, in a worst case scenario, planes could have fallen out of the sky.
From Data4 Speers moved to IBM in 2001 and was again contracting, this time to do an Oracle upgrade at Air New Zealand.
He went to OSS in 2003 as an account manager. “I helped grow the business over a two-year period. When I arrived I was employee number 11 and by the time I left in 2005 we had 28 permanent staff.”
Enterprise IT, where Speers made the jump by going into business for himself, was formed in 2005 as a joint initiative between Speers and Computer Brokers’ (now Lexcel Systems) managing director Chris Simpson, with Speers taking on the role of CEO.
The company was set up to service a sector of the market Lexcel Systems did not operate in — the high-level enterprise Linux, Oracle and project management space.
The two companies operated in the same building on the North Shore until the buyout of the shares Lexcel Systems held in Enterprise IT by Enterprise IT management in April 2008.
At that time, Enterprise IT had grown from a niche provider to having a staff of more than 20. It was an amicable separation and Lexel Systems remains an important partner of Enterprise IT. Speers says he is grateful to Simpson for the support and financial backing received over the three years.
Enterprise IT had to find new premises, which it did in Albany, implement new systems and take care of day-to-day workflow.
Speers says the company also had to come off Lexcel Systems’ operating systems and find new ones for itself.
He is happy with Enterprise IT’s current position in the market place, but says promoting the specialised services it can offer to customers is important in tougher times.
“The board of directors and myself are looking at ways we can add more value to customers. We’re also taking a strategic approach and gathering different ideas to use in the recession.”
He sees database and server consolidation as a growth area for the company.
Away from work, Speers’ young family of one girl and two boys takes up much of his time. They moved from central Auckland to Albany more than 18 months ago.
“I’m enjoying Albany. It’s close to work, the beaches and seems a lot more relaxed on the weekend.”