Callum Eade, Commvault’s Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) vice president and managing director (and passionate triathlete and long-distance swimming addict) discusses how his IT career working for New Zealand distie Melco provided him with a taste of the IT industry and, ultimately, led him to the role he holds today.
What was your first job?
My first job out of university was in sales at Melco, a Wellington-based distributor in New Zealand. I spent the early days of my career wholesaling brown goods, that is TVs and DVDs, to retailers. The company had a distribution arm for technology brands such as Microsoft and IBM. I moved on to join their IT division, which really switched me on the ways technology transformed business as a whole and would begin to operate differently in the future. That realisation (which I believe even more today than I did then) is what started my passion for working in the IT industry.
How did you get started in the IT industry and progress to where you are today at Commvault?
My first job played a huge role in setting me up for my career in IT. At the time, I was a graduate with a business degree and no background in IT. My job at Melco was an opportunity to learn how to sell technology products as well as witness and experience first-hand the rapid transition to today’s digital era through the transformation of the brown goods market.
I witnessed the transition from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray and now to digital on-line streaming . Being able to see all the different elements of the industry were evolving and influencing each other so significantly made it a very exciting – ever changing – sector, which kept me interested and motivated. I was proud to be in the industry everyone was talking about, being a part of new business models and seeing long held commercial assumptions challenged.
As I did not have any background in technology at that point, I invested a lot of time and energy learning about technical elements. Doing that, gave me a better understanding of the long term potential and how wide the influence of the industry could be, all of which has led me to where I am today at Commvault. Now more than ever, there is a significant shift in the way businesses are being run and to stay relevant.
What has been your biggest business mistake, and the lessons you've learnt from that experience?
When you’re in an industry that is rapidly shifting and evolving, thinking you can be successful alone is a big mistake. I learnt this very early on in my career as I quickly became cognizant of the fact that in order to provide the best service, I needed to work with specialists in the field and collaborate effectively with the wider team.
The biggest lesson I learnt especially in IT sales is that it is a team sport. It is critical to work as one team with subject matter experts, and specialists. This also extends to partnerships between organisations because in the technology sector innovation and problem solving are done best by bringing together experts across technical, business and sector specific understanding. I soon recognised this is the way to most effectively help your customers.
I have always taken this philosophy through my career since then, and now at Commvault both the calibre of the people on my team and the calibre of the expert partners we work with as a business are central to our success.
What are some of your plans for Commvault in the coming months?
I joined Commvault with the objectives of expanding the market across the APJ region and increasing diversity within our teams that serve our region. For instance, I am proud that female representation at APJ leadership level has jumped from 23 per cent to 42 per cent, during my time here already. In the coming months, we will continue to diversify our pool of talent and remove any barrier of discrimination, and have recently appointed a new global Head of Inclusion and Diversity with new company-wide programs sustaining our efforts on equity, inclusion and diversity.
But diversity isn’t just about addressing the imbalance of gender, ethnic background or any other factor. Commvault is committed to fostering an environment that embraces equality and inclusion of all communities within the organisation, but also supporting and embracing new ways of supporting working practices that actively encourage fairness and equality of opportunities across the wider business community.
My next priority is to better support and empower customers in managing and protecting their data. Complementing our sales team, a new inside sales representatives (ISR) Team has been brought on extending further coverage to work closely with customers to ensure they are provided with the service they require to adapt to the data demands of today’s virtual reality.
We are also enabling our sales organisation to be a lot more agile with greater localisation of content in the many non-English markets we operate in, and digitising our assets for easy access to products, services and experiences anytime and on-demand.
To support our partners and customers as they shift between the office and remote working, we are committed to developing solutions to better support customers by dedicating a large portion of our R&D investment towards the development of solutions that integrate backup and recovery capabilities with any existing environments. We have also built capabilities for customers to manage backup and recovery remotely, and an effective data management through a single pane view, regardless of where they are physically and where the data is stored.
What are some of your biggest ambitions - personally and professionally?
In life, I am always striving to be the best version of myself – whether it’s becoming a specialist in the industry or swimming the Seven Seas. On the personal front, I am a long-time triathlete and a long-distance swimming addict. As an avid believer in achieving growth by always significantly challenging yourself, my ambition is to become the oldest person to triple cross the English Channel to raise funds to help advance cancer research. I am preparing and training to swim between France and England three times in October 2021.
Professionally, I aim to become a leader in the IT industry by learning from the best. In my previous role, I had the pleasure to work with Pat Gelsinger, who was named the Best CEO in America last year. At Commvault, I am surrounded by great leaders and am able to reach out to our CEO Sanjay Mirchandani for guidance and inspiration who is just a phone call away. As I work in a rapidly changing environment and often with disruptive technology, I strive to always be in a position where I am constantly learning, pushing the limits and making tough decisions with the best in class to help guide and shape my career.
What has been the best piece of advice you've ever received?
‘Solve the problem as if it was a precedent. Imagine you will solve the problem again tomorrow ’ is a piece of advice that has stuck with me throughout my career. With the ever-evolving demands of today’s market, problem solving is the essence of what great leaders do.
Therefore I never deal with a problem as a one-off decision but rather long-term solution where you have to stand behind it. Get the right people involved in the problem-solving process — consult experts and specialists. Being a leader who takes bold, but informed decisions, requires accountability and courage to leverage the strengths of peers to make sustainable decisions.