PAUL Muckleston was counting the days to embarking on his new venture as director of business management and strategy for Microsoft’s Central and Eastern Europe region and making his new home in Paris.
It is not that the former small and mid-sized businesses and partner director at Microsoft New Zealand was in a hurry to leave the country, but rather that he was keen to start his new life.
“I just want to get into it,” he says. “I’m splitting my time between organising the move, doing my work here and working with my new team remotely.”
After nine years at Microsoft New Zealand Muckleston left for his new job on November 8. He started with the company as enterprise account manager. During the dotcom craze he moved to the e-solutions part of the business and worked with Telecom to launch XtraMSN.
He then launched .Net and worked with the developer community before becoming director for small business, midmarket businesses, partners and Microsoft Business Solutions. Last year the marketing director role was added to his portfolio.
Muckleston admits the thought of the change is almost overwhelming, but he is excited to break out of his comfort zone.
He will be responsible for driving the business strategies of Microsoft’s offices in Central and Eastern Europe and will work closely with Microsoft’s Vahe Torossian, vice president for EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), Central and Eastern Europe. Together they aim to make the business more effective and drive specific projects across the region.
To hit the ground running Muckleston started some projects for the new role before leaving New Zealand. He researched Microsoft subsidiaries in other regions to learn what he could implement in the new position.
One lesson he plans to take from New Zealand is the importance of building strong relationships.
This will be critical to Muckleston’s success as he will be working with country managers from around 16 different Microsoft subsidiaries. Muckleston will act as Torossian’s right-hand man in dealing with these regions.
“I would need to be his proxy and understand what he would want to achieve and gain the commitment from the regional managers,” he says.
Such close contact with the upper echelons of the corporation will impart invaluable career training to Muckleston.
“It is like a finishing school for executives,” he says. “I will get to understand how business is done at a senior level. These will be valuable skills to bring back to New Zealand.”
Muckleston will also have to come to grips with the scale of operations in Europe.
In Russia Microsoft has 120 customers with 10,000 users. “That is 120 Telecoms,” he says.
The country also has a 70% piracy rate, but conversely boasts more sophisticated projects than some Western countries as it has fewer legacy systems.
Some other countries in the region are also far behind in their development. “We have to work with these countries at a macro level to encourage development,” says Muckleston.
Meanwhile, the Muckleston family, which includes wife Maritza and 17-month old son Jackson, has the tough task of adjusting to life in Paris. Finding suitable accommodation in the city already made for some interesting experiences. When Parisians move they take their entire kitchens with them and the couple was astounded to learn the lovely kitchens in the apartments they were viewing were to be ripped out.
After taking months to renovate the kitchen in their Auckland home, the Mucklestons had to pick out a new kitchen for the Paris apartment in one-and-a-half hours.
The family’s new home is a typical Parisian apartment, says Muckleston. It is in a 150-year old building, has parquet flooring and is 300 metres from the Arc de Triomphe.
Because Muckleston’s job will involve a fair amount of travelling, the family will see a great deal of Europe during their time there.
But Muckleston expects family commitments will eventually lure them back to New Zealand, as well as one precious item that is being left behind — his 1973 V12 Jaguar E-type.