Selling skills complement engineering degree

Selling skills complement engineering degree

Leaving her native Philippines for New Zealand was an easy choice for Renaissance Brands’ Johanna Nonato. The product manager in the networking and security group says leaving the Philippines brought with it challenges and opportunities here.

“I got here in October 2004, partly because I had some family here and also to provide better education and opportunities for my daughter. Most of the accounts here are smaller than I’m used to. But the good thing here is that small businesses spend money on IT, in Philippines SME’s don’t spend money on IT to enhance their business.”

Nonato started in the IT industry after completing a five-year computer engineering degree. She says computers were what sparked her interest, but she found out she wanted to concentrate on non-technical jobs in the industry.

“I started in the IT industry because I took computer engineering for five years. I originally started the course because I was good with computers but it turned out my classmates were much better. I became more interested in dealing with people, but I decided to finish the course and find a job I really liked in the industry. I started out as a salesperson; I sold technical training courses at the equivalent of Renaissance in the Philippines. From that job I stayed in the channel space and was eventually hired by Cisco as a territory account manager.”

Nonato also worked with Tech Pacific as a product manager, where she handled brands like Adobe, McAfee and Compaq prior to the HP merger. She started out in New Zealand working for Portables Plus as a business development manager.

“They were looking at voice over IP at the time and wanted me to develop that space and work on the relationship with 3Com. It was exciting, but it was quite different for me, as I was used to dealing with massive companies. It was a good place to work though, because I needed to learn and I needed to understand the New Zealand culture. In the end I stayed a little less than one year; selling in a different market and culture got a bit difficult for me. I decided I would be better off in the channel; it would be easier for me to work in product management rather than selling.”

Nonato got a job at Renaissance’s networking and security division, headed by Kevin Swainson

‘The vacancy with Renaissance was for a product manager. When they hired me they were drawing up the organisational chart and I had to ask where I would fit in. Mark Dasent [general manager of Renaissance Brands] basically told me to choose, so I ended up overlooking product management in the networking and security group.”

Nonato's ambition is to some day become a country manager, and would love to develop markets and help a brand achiever success in the market.

But, she is very happy working at Renaissance, saying the focus on core brands is one of the company's biggest strengths.

“I really like that Renaissance is focused on core brands. They used to compete with Ingram Micro with bigger brands and less margin but brought focus back to core brands and higher margins followed that. People at Renaissance are smart and mature, and they are very helpful. It’s good to be in a place where people know their stuff; I couldn’t work with incompetent people.”

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