FOR Helen Robinson, Microsoft NZ’s new director for small and mid-sized businesses and partners, life is about having fun.
Balancing a full-on role, an exhausting travel schedule — 125 trips to Sydney in three years — and spending quality time with three children (14, 12 and eight years) sounds impossible, but Robinson’s attitude makes it work.
Robinson’s role at Microsoft sees her taking over from Paul Muckleston and gives her the opportunity to re-establish herself in New Zealand.
“I’m delighted to be here, it’s a fabulous company with fabulous opportunities. I think for many people it would be overwhelming but I love the big-picture stuff — the more complexity in a business the greater the challenge.”
The first priority for Robinson has been to get around customers and partners to wave the flag.
“The biggest thing for me is to hear what partners think of Microsoft — what do they need from us and what does success look like?”
Coming from a strong sales background Robinson says there are some basic things her company can do to help its partners.
“Microsoft has a much greater capability to look after the Axons, Infinitys and Intergens of the channel after the realignment.”
She says Microsoft NZ has realised it needs to become much more sales focused rather than product orientated.
“I think that’s quite key to the way the company operates. If Microsoft helps partners drive their own success then it will drive its own.”
Getting out on the road, whether in New Zealand or internationally, is key to the role.
The travel is nothing new for Robinson — her former role as Australasian vice president for CRM software specialist Pivotal saw her on the road four days a week, though she does admit the novelty of duty free wore off several years ago.
“You know that’s worn off when the people at the airline counter greet you by name. I got to the point in Sydney where the Air NZ staff would ring me on my cellphone 20 minutes before takeoff to make sure I was still coming,” she says.
While the jet-set lifestyle is far from glamorous, Robinson says she still enjoys it.
“It’s a fun life and, fundamentally, you have to do whatever turns you on. If work is enjoyable and you aren’t having too much of a guilt trip over family then it’s okay.”
From a family standpoint Robinson firmly believes that she spends as much, if not more, time with her children than other parents.
“I have a wonderful husband who works from home, so he’s played mum for many years. When I’m home, I’m home and totally focused on my family.”