Gary Wicks: Toshiba's gadget guy

Gary Wicks: Toshiba's gadget guy

Toshiba’s Gary Wicks was keen to try out the new toys as soon as possible after becoming country manager late last year. But as he tells Amanda Sachtleben, he has had to fit it into a hectic schedule in the first few months of the job.

What has taken up most of your time in the early stages of the country manager role?

There have been a lot of big projects happening. Our business is kind of half retail and half corporate and government business. The corporate and government business is quite large and important to us. We’ve also made some significant wins in the last few months so it’s been fun. Along the way I’m still learning how the company works.

Did you know much about Toshiba?

Absolutely, it’s one of those top brands. I hadn’t actually dealt with them, it was just knowing about them?

How has your career progressed to where you are today?

I was trained as an electronics technician and I went from there to various electronic, and then IT sales roles. I’m a bit of a gadget man and I love the electronics side. I spent roughly ten years at Phillips doing various roles there and when I left there I went to Tech Rentals. After that I took a year off to do the house dad thing, which was great because my son was two at the time. The first few months were fantastic but by the time you get to a year you’re ready to get back into the office. The problem was convincing my wife, because she was loving the role reversal. But eventually I convinced her I should go back to work. IT was difficult then – it was about five years ago and senior roles were very tight. I decided to look outside the IT area and I went to Bose, which is a fantastic hi-fi brand. That gave me insight into retail and I had a lot of fun with the cool toys and things. When I learned the Toshiba role was coming up I decided it was time to get back into IT.

How important are those retail connections now you’re with Toshiba?

Because you can divide the business roughly in half with retail, that understanding is going to become more important, but I initially focused more on the corporate and government world. The last few weeks have revolved around some big corporate accounts and relationships with distributors.

Have you managed to carry that gadget interest through to this new role?

I’m afraid the bigger us boys get, the more expensive the toys. I love the technology so it’s a good part of the job. One of the first things I did when I joined Toshiba was find the biggest, nastiest notebook I could find with a 17-inch screen and see if I could play my games on it. If you don’t do things like that, you’re missing an opportunity.

What’s been the biggest learning curve?

Because Toshiba’s 100 percent channel focused, we have some very important channel relationships. So I guess it has been getting my head around each of those accounts and where we’re strong and where we’re weak and what we can do to make those relationships better. There’s also the big government contracts and sitting there in the evenings with a contract on your lap, that is part of it.

Where do you see the technology going and what are your predictions for this year?

Predicting what will be big can be a dangerous thing. There’s major platform changes with Intel’s refresh. What will be big? Tablets are big for us and we have a lot coming out. Lighter weight, smaller screens and more power in the same box. Most machines will have to be more powerful to run Vista. It wouldn’t surprise me if prices increased in the next few months because of that.

How do you ensure the local operation remains competitive internationally?

Toshiba’s the seventh largest electronics company in the world. The R and D is massive so I don’t think there’s a big problem having products coming down the line, it’s more matching those products with the local market. They’re also fantastic at communication – we have very good contacts for the product management through to Japan and we have people going up there all the time. So the leading edge technology we have is not a problem. Toshiba delegates quite a lot of autonomy back to the country manager role. So while I’m part of this large corporate in Asia Pacific, we can react quite quickly and make changes.

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