A career in IT was always on the cards for 28-year-old Max Zhang – Fujitsu and Asus product manager at distributor Morning Star.
While studying information systems in Auckland, Zhang worked part-time at a computer shop as a technician. “Then I moved to a local headset company where I was doing external service work. I started to understand people and gain more inter-personal skills. It’s not always about the products, sometimes the relationship is more important."
Zhang joined Morning Star almost three years ago, initially working with components such as hard drives. He now looks after Fujitsu and Asus notebooks as well as Asus components.
“This keeps me really busy. Working in the IT industry is fast paced, you don’t get much free time. Sometimes you’ll be working after hours due to the time difference overseas, but it’s always good to talk to the vendors.”
A self-confessed gadget lover, Zhang's favourite toy at the moment is his iPhone.
“I’m still trying to figure out a few things on it and I also love different laptops, powerful gaming machines and tablets. One of my personal interests is always searching for new gadgets to play with.”
Born in Shanghai, China, Zhang moved here to attend university about seven years ago and has since been to most places in New Zealand apart from Gisborne. "Most of my travel involves going back to Shanghai to see my parents and friends. But I’m planning to go to Australia or some countries in Asia later this year.”
Seeing the Olympics in Beijing would be a dream come true as he says it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Zhang has plenty of interests outside of work saying he loves sports such as tennis, swimming and soccer. Last year he did a triathlon. "I never thought I would accomplish it and it pushed [me to] my limits.”
Spending time with his friends is also important and they play Texas Hold’em poker and shoot pool. As well, Zhang is a big Formula One fan and started watching the races when he was 10-years-old.
“I try to keep up to date with all the news. Ayrton Senna was my favourite driver and Kimi Raikkonen is good too. You see the most advanced technology at the highest speed possible.”
And Zhang says he is always searching for gadgets online.
“You find a lot of portable devices such as notebooks that are available in Asia or North America first, so I know what is available out there. It helps me choose the right products to bring in to New Zealand.”
The people aspect of the job is another important facet, as he says being a product manager you can’t sit in an office all the time. Getting to know people is very important to build up relationships with the customer. "Once a month I go out with sales people to understand what customers want and what their complaints are.”
Zhang also travels around the North Island every six months visiting customers.
He says the entire Morning Star team has given him plenty of support.
“The structure here is flexible so if I have questions I can just go and ask them and you can get feedback from senior people.”
Unlike other Hot Shot candidates, Zhang says he may not stay in IT.
“I’m quite happy with this job at the moment but perhaps in 20 years I’d like to open my own coffee shop. I was a barista for five years, it started as a job during university. I’m thinking of taking a part-time barista course to understand the history of coffee, tasting and how to identify different coffees. It’s a really interesting topic for me to study.”