After a number of years at Ingram Micro, Gary Bigwood was well primed to step into a leadership role.
His promotion came last year when former managing director Jay Miley headed off to become the distributor’s Sydney-based vice president and managing director for Australia and New Zealand.
Bigwood has been with the company since its merger with Tech Pacific, where he was a long-standing member of the senior management team.
He says it’s an advantage for local partners that Miley is in the A/NZ role. “During his two years at the helm of IMNZ he got to know the market and the personalities really well,” says Bigwood. “This speeds up communications when discussing issues and opportunities. It also gives us the opportunity to bring the two organisations a bit closer and leverage our strengths.”
There are a number of things he’s proud of from his time at Ingram Micro. “I launched the first PC and Server quote desk back in 1999, shortly after taking over management of the sales team. I was becoming frustrated, as I couldn’t get my account managers out of the office, and when I did the resellers complained they couldn’t get help with technical solutions — a real catch-22. The quote desk was started with just two staff but was a quick success.”
He says this sticks in his mind because one simple change solved multiple problems and helped to move the game on. “Today we have about 20 staff on specialist desks, able to assist resellers with complex solutions and quote generation covering server and storage, networking and security, licensing and PC and print.”
Stepping up to the top position has been an exciting opportunity, he says. “I’ve worked in many parts of the organisation, as this is my sixth role with the company.” Bigwood therefore describes himself as new to the role, but with years of training. “I’m enjoying spending a lot more time looking at strategic direction, plotting the course for what lies ahead.”
Eight years as the national sales manager gave Bigwood an opportunity to meet many resellers and vendors and learn about their businesses. He says they’re happy with the changover at Ingram. “Partners know who I am and aren’t shy in making contact. I guess it helps to transition to someone they’re already comfortable with. It would certainly be a lot more difficult coming in as an outsider. 2009 is looking to be a challenging year, given the global economic environment. Consequently we’re reviewing a number of our internal systems to improve productivity and deliver a better customer experience. I believe both can be achieved at the same time and much of my focus will be in this area. I’m excited by what we’ll be able to achieve over the coming year.”
Having worked in the industry for 13 years, Bigwood says he has seen a lot of changes.
“I began at Tech Pacific as the first ever HP PC/Server product manager. The sales I worked so hard to create in my first month would take place this month every 38 minutes. The growth of our key brands has been mind-
Bigwood has always considered himself an optimist. “That is not about to change. It’s easy to get sucked into the doom and gloom, and it’s certainly a time to be cautious. However, everywhere I look there’s opportunity, and I’ve spoken to many resellers and vendors who have the same view. New Zealand businesses are looking for productivity and efficiency now more than ever. Budgets have been tightened, but if we can demonstrate the gains they’re looking for, the money will be spent. The IT industry is uniquely positioned to assist in this environment and the resellers who know how to add value will excel.”
Prior to joining Tech Pacific, Bigwood spent a year at the PC Vendor AST, before the Tech Pacific role became available. “Prior to that, I spent a couple of years at Osborne Computers, living the life of a reseller as a corporate account manager. That was a great job until the morning I arrived at work to find a big security guard standing outside the front door. The Australian head office had gone under, and although profitable, the New Zealand operation was shut down.”
Bigwood graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Business Studies degree (marketing), and like so many fresh graduates, promptly left to do his OE.
“I spent 350-plus days snow skiing around the world in the following four years. I met my wife in London (she’s all the way from west Auckland!) and, when we settled back in New Zealand in 1992, I had no particular career in mind.”
Bigwood held a number of sales roles then had an epiphany at a 1993 conference held by his then employer. “We were to spend an hour setting the goals we wanted to achieve in life and then work backwards to figure out how much we’d need to earn to achieve those goals. I guess the idea was to motivate us to work harder to get them. But it became clear to me immediately that I needed to resign and change careers, and so I did. I don’t believe the motivational speaker was re-hired, but I have a lot to thank him for.”
Outside of work, Bigwood is a motorsport addict and has a BMW 325i Tarmac rally car. “I mainly compete in Targa, but have had a bit of fun on track, as well. My other passion is snow skiing, which is shared by my wife, and two young boys who started to ski at age three and who are now both in a race programme. The competitive streak is hereditary.”