In this edition of ARN's 'One-on-One' interview series, we speak to Jason du Preez about his journey from washing cars to leading SugarCRM as senior vice president for Asia Pacific.
What was your first job?
I have always been rather ambitious. I started my first job as a 12-year-old washing cars which then progressed to include working in fast-food restaurants and a few other casual jobs. After university, I started working as a consultant with a company that implemented manufacturing systems such as MAPICS, BPICs and JD Edwards. I learned very quickly that to succeed, you need to have a strong work ethic, be consistent in the value you deliver and that client relationships are critical.
How did you get started in the IT industry and progress to where you are today?
Many people in the industry would say that they fell into the IT industry along the way. But, I majored in engineering at university and IT was a big part of engineering. I’ve always had the intent to pursue a career along the IT path. I started out in consulting roles within IT companies in the manufacturing sector and, gradually, moved into more sales-focused roles with companies such as Epicor, which saw me relocating to the UK and managing their EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] channels from Turkey all the way to Spain and subsequently onto roles with direct sales management responsibilities across the APAC region.
There were also opportunities where I was involved in helping companies to build or re-establish their footprint in the region from scratch including Numara Software, Verde and Kana Software, which was later acquired by Verint Systems.
My journey from Australia to the UK and back as well as all the opportunities to travel around the world meeting and working closely with customers and partners led me to my current role, leading SugarCRM in APAC.
What are some of your plans for the company in the coming months?
SugarCRM has experienced significant growth in Australia and New Zealand over the last 18 months. We are increasing our investment in the region to ensure our customers and partners are successful.
As part of this continuing growth trajectory, while we continue to enhance and launch more capabilities, we are also expanding our partner ecosystem, looking for a select group of partners to collaborate closely with to expand our offering in the region.
Unlike vendors who carry out mass recruitment, SugarCRM prefers to work with a select group of partners and provide high-quality one-on-one support to make sure they achieve success. We are actively recruiting A/NZ partners who specialise in customer service, call centres, sales and marketing automation platforms and agency solutions and welcome anyone interested to get in touch.
What has been your biggest business mistake and the lessons you've learnt from that experience?
Over the years, I have learned that recruitment can make or break a team. A wrong hire not only affects how you run your team but also impacts business performance and the wider culture. The same idea can also be extended to partner recruitment. Hence, the reason why we’re not mass or volume-recruiting. We want to build the right team of people to work and collaborate with so we can all enjoy the journey and celebrate success together.
What are some of your ambitions -- personally and professionally?
Professionally: To double the size of SugarCRM’s business within the region in the next 18 months. We’ve been able to achieve significant growth and it is my ambition that we continue building on this positive trajectory. Our partner community is an important part of that equation and I am confident we will find the right partners to further build on the momentum.
Personally: My family is very important to me. I want to make sure that my family’s health and well-being are continuously taken care of and for myself, to continue maintaining and staying on top of my fitness goal and enjoy more mountain biking, diving and snowboarding.
What has been the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Someone once told me that when you’re taking a close look at your own career and personal life, you need to set your goals many years ahead. Start with the end goal in mind and chart your course to achieve that accordingly. Life does throw some curveballs at us, so it is also important that we learn to adjust and be flexible. But, never lose sight of the vision and purpose you are striving for: perseverance and determination is key.