Kiwi lifestyle a drawcard for IBM marketer

Kiwi lifestyle a drawcard for IBM marketer

IBM software sales brand manager Mark Low is loving the sporty, outdoor lifestyle downunder after starting an OE here five months ago.

The 30-year-old British native (with some Irish heritage), who studied marketing and accountancy with a view to becoming an accountant, joined IBM in Britain out of university, moving from a technical role to marketing. However, he wanted to experience a different culture after nine years with the company in the UK, and headed to our shores with partner Jennifer, a dietician.

“It’s the backwards version of New Zealanders on their OE,” he says. “We came over here to see how things go and grab the chance while it’s there. I never want to look back and say ‘what if I hadn’t lived in New Zealand?’”

Moving here was definitely the result of grabbing a chance, with Low describing it as a stroke of luck. A colleague at IBM in England had just returned from working in New Zealand and Low spotted the local job opportunity while hotdesking at a workstation used by the traveller.

Since arriving, Low has been making the most of weekends here, going skiing at Mt Hutt, mountain biking in Auckland’s Woodhill forest and visiting Waiheke Island. A big rugby fan, he also plans to get into touch rugby soon and continue doing triathlons as he did in the UK.

Along with a different national culture, he has also found himself in a very different business environment.

“The culture of selling is more hard nosed in the UK. I’ve learned very quickly it’s more relationship based over here. It’s a small place so everyone knows you and you have to be really careful about how you deal with people.”

At IBM in Britain, Low was part of a 30-strong marketing team that made cold calls to potential customers. Now he almost has too much business opportunity to handle and must prioritise work carefully.

He spends about half of each week in Wellington and has to plan about three to four weeks ahead.

“The only way to really sell is to spend as much time with your customers as you can. That’s even more the case here than in the UK. You’ve got to get out there. In the UK they do a lot more prospecting.”

Because of his schedule, Low also has to select which meetings he goes to, sometimes asking others to go and get information on his behalf.

“That’s enabling others to go and it gives them more knowledge and credibility in front of the customer.”

Low also hopes to pursue his other passion outside IBM – sports radio broadcasting.

He was trained on the job when he started in hospital radio in the UK about three years ago, and has since done live tennis commentary at Wimbledon.

He says commentating on a ladies doubles match between two Russian players with complex surnames was the most interesting and challenging experience.

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