Decade-long rise through the ranks

Decade-long rise through the ranks

Weatherwatcher Desmond Ling's name is known to many in the New Zealand IT industry. He has been in the industry for about 10 years and has just been promoted to general manager of Ingram Micro's new component and consumer divisions.

Originally from Malaysia, Ling came to New Zealand 20 years ago and started high school in Papakura, south of Auckland.

“I went to varsity in Auckland, before going back to Singapore and Malaysia for about a year and a half. I spent some time there dealing with property sales. Back then property was the booming industry. The lifestyle probably suited me a bit better here so I ended up returning and started looking for a job. I was always looking for the exciting growth industry at the time. Property was still good, but so was IT. I started at Tech Pacific around 1996 in a marketing role.”

Tech Pacific was not the biggest business at the time - nothing compared to the size of today’s company. Ling says he has grown with the company throughout the years, and got a taste for Ingram before the companies merged.

“It was quite a small company back then, and I’ve grown with the company over the years. I feel pretty lucky to have gotten myself involved with the right kind of company. I got involved when the company was experiencing good growth, and I learnt a lot through those good times. That being said, I learned a lot through the bad times as well. Around five years ago I left Tech Pacific to join the old Ingram Micro, which of course later merged. It’s a great place to work. Both companies had a great culture and people were great to work with. On a customer basis, they served a fairly distinct market.”

New Zealand’s limited population and geographical location means a limited IT market. Ling says he enjoys being exposed to customers and interacting with them brings rewards both ways.

“You get exposed to so many vendors that are leaders in their field. You can’t help but be motivated by their enthusiasm and what they have to offer. Being exposed to that has really taught me a lot. There are some vendors that I have had relationships with since the start. A lot of them are good personal friends of mine. The industry has been very good to me, and I have met a lot of good people through it.”

The industry is also where Ling met his wife, Rebecca Swift of Toshiba, whom he recently married. The two are now planning a honeymoon to Europe next month.

Ling says the added responsibility of his recent promotion from marketing manager to general manager of Ingram’s component and consumer divisions hasn’t changed the business too much and he still enjoys being involved.

“Obviously, we have people in place to help run these divisions. I oversee those divisions. It hasn’t changed too much; I’m still very involved in the sales side of things.”

The structure change at Ingram has not changed Ling’s focus or opinion on the IT channel.

“The channel has been absolutely important to us. I think one of the reasons why Ingram Micro has been so successful is because the channel is very strong here in New Zealand. We are looking to further understand the needs and help our channel partners. This rejigging of structure just means we are trying to meet the needs of our customers, who are getting more sophisticated as well”.

Despite Ingram’s success in the later years, Ling says there were moments that were tougher. Rather than dwell on it, he says it made the company grow stronger.

“All companies have their challenges, and we have been lucky to ride it out I think. After Y2K and the burst of the dotcom bubble we didn’t experience the growth we were used to. Times like that basically made us work harder and smarter for our customers; their success is really our success.”

Favourite gadget

My faithful Sandisk MP3 and video player. Everyone should have one and I am not saying that just because we sell them.

Favourite website

Don’t know if I have one but I do go to the Metservice weather website a lot.

Favourite sports

I love watching cricket whenever I get the time. When it comes to playing I guess I am a jack of all trades and master of none. I go to the gym and run to keep fit.

Favourite cocktail recipe

Jager Bombs. It’s made from Red Bull and Jagermeister.

If you could have a coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Definitely my grandmother who passed away about 10 years ago.

What's been the most important technological advancement in IT?

It would have to be the internet. It has made IT more exciting and useful to a wider range of people.

If you weren't in IT, what would you be doing?

Probably property development or something similar as that was what I was doing before this.

What book is on your bedside table?

Right now I am reading the Lonely Planet Guide to Europe as that is where I am going next month with my wife.

Who is/was your mentor?

The guys I’ve worked for, the likes of Tony Butler, Vivianne Larsen, John Dunbar; they have all been mentors to me. It is more a process of learning different things from different people throughout the years than relying on one person.

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