If it wasn’t for an injury sustained when playing rugby, Toshiba business development manager Alan Nehemia could have found himself on the field of dreams.
“I made my way up to representative level at Massey rugby club [in Auckland] and got injured which was the end of it. My life might have been different, but I wouldn’t have the great career I do now.”
The 31-year-old has been at Toshiba for a year and says he loves the role.
“Primarily it’s about looking after direct customers. It’s identical to what Genevieve [Robinson] does down in Wellington and Christchurch. I look after the likes of Axon, Gen-i and Datacom. We look to identify and recruit other resellers like Edtech, which has come on-board as an education tier-one reseller.”
Talking with customers is a good way of building rapport, says Nehemia.
“The majority of people like it and it’s important to me people I work with in a business capacity become friends. It’s a little less formal and not only about the business, but also what’s important to each individual person.”
And working with channel partners such as distributor Ingram Micro is also important, as Nehemia says Toshiba is utilising the synergies it has with the company.
“Toshiba has a virtual team there and it gives us more opportunity to put the brand in front of customers and resellers. Notebooks are very strong and that’s where our competitors have picked up. It’s good to have competition, as long as people realise Toshiba still makes the best notebooks,” he says with a laugh.
Prior to joining Toshiba, Nehemia worked in account manager and channel development manager roles at HP distributor Exeed for six years. “I did do a computer programming paper at Auckland University, but never sat down and said I’m going to work in IT.”
Nehemia’s first job out of school as a shift manager at McDonalds helped his later IT career. “It gave me plenty of people skills and going into IT, I found I had a flair for account management.”
Having “no fear” of talking to different people is a big help as he can talk to anyone from a cleaner to a CEO.
“I don’t get intimidated by titles, although I do show respect where respect is due. But at the end of the day they’re all people with families and motivations in life outside the job they’re doing.”
Family, deep sea fishing and sports are Nehemia’s three top interests outside of work.
“I’ve got a little girl [Cassie] who is 22-months-old and she is the centre of me and my wife Paulene’s life. There’s another baby on the way, so we’re building our own little empire.”
The biggest fish he has ever caught was a 15-kilo kingfish.
“That was near Waiheke Island about eight years ago. My good friend Desmond Ling [from Ingram Micro] recently bought a boat so the frequency of fishing in the last six months has picked up significantly, which I’m thrilled about.”
He particularly enjoys spear fishing “It’s magical because going one on one with a fish is kind of primeval. You’re in their element, so there is a fair chance they will get away too.”
Touch rugby, indoor netball and 20/20 cricket also keep Nehemia busy.
“I’ve just started playing 20/20 cricket this year. I really suck at batting, but my bowling is good.”
Nehemia has a heart condition known as Atrial Fibrillation, the same problem that has dogged local rower Rob Waddell. It has led to a lifestyle change, meaning he has cut back on beer consumption and switched to red wine.
“I love local Pinot, Merlot and Cabernet from Otago, Marlborough and the Hawkes Bay. I found drinking beer was part of the cause of the heart problem.”
He keeps fit through boxing, saying it is intense. “You know you’ve worked out as it’s a whole body experience. I used to think boxing was just a slugfest, but now I’ve gained a greater appreciation for what they do.”
Of Maori and Polish descent, Nehemia would like to see more young Maori enter the IT industry.
“Dean Hughes of Business Systems Solutions was a mentor and I didn’t know it at the time, but he is also of Maori descent. Some [Maori] are a bit shy and don’t back themselves, but when they get out on the world stage, which is typically in sport, that’s where the confidence comes in. I’m proud to be Maori and Polish.”
To that effect, he is taking a language class in Maori and is looking forward to visiting Poland in the near future to get in touch with his Polish mother’s heritage.