Pedal to the metal on the IT track
- 23 January, 2008 22:00
“I race a midget stock car at Western Springs [in Auckland]. It’s completely different from IT and I like that because you get to go down to the garage and get your hands dirty. It’s very basic stuff and gets me away from technology.”
Anstis got behind the wheel at 15 thanks to his father’s influence, as he also raced midgets. Anstis has won several races and has also raced stockcars and three-quarter cars.
“I’ve still got my car in the garage and time permitting; I’m trying to get it back together to get it out early this year.”
As with racing, Anstis’ foray into IT began early in life. “I got my first computer when I was eight years old. I was one of those nerds who mowed lawns and delivered papers long enough so I could buy a Sinclair ZX81 [released in 1981]. I was right into electronics and started getting into digital electronics.”
His first job out of school was working for TVNZ as a broadcasting technician.
Anstis’ introduction to the IT industry was with Datagroup, where he talked his way into a field engineer position.
“My mate was already working there and he had given me the lowdown on all the official questions they ask a new employee. So I went away and researched all the answers. My first field call was at a chemist’s in Mount Wellington. I was relieved that he left me alone to replace the video card in his machine, because the only way I knew it was a video card was by tracing the cable on the back of the PC and working out which card it connected into.”
Along with learning about video cards, Anstis got into networking at Datagroup.
“This was one of the greatest things I did, as I ended up teaching Novell full-time and also working at Datamatic, which used to be a big networking products distributor. I became a Citrix product manager there and that’s how I got into vendorland.”
He adds that Datamatic was starting to go under and Citrix organised for him to move to Australia to join Express Data.
“When Express Data took on Citrix, I started the business off with them and about 18 months later I went to work for Citrix directly and stayed there for six years. The last position I was doing at Citrix was running all the training and certification in Asia Pacific.”
Anstis left Citrix five years ago and was at a single sign-on company called Protocom before joining Marshal in 2004.
“I joined Marshal when it had already been bought by NetIQ, so I was destined to move to the US. NetIQ was going to give me that opportunity and they put me into the Marshal product division. I fell in love with those products and fell out of love with NetIQ. On my first day of work in Houston, Texas I got told that NetIQ was selling Marshal. The wife and I were just about to get our household container on the boat, so we put a hold on that and lived very temporarily while we waited to see what would happen with Marshal.”
Anstis ended up working in Houston for nine months and says it was worth the wait. “Houston was interesting. There’s only two things you need to worry about – religion and guns and I got a liberal dose of both.”
In the management buyout of Marshal in 2005, Anstis organised the technical side of the buyout.
“That was great because it enabled me to come back to New Zealand, start up the development office here and hire back all the great developers that NetIQ let go 18 months previously.”
As vice-president of products Anstis says he enjoys being the public face of Marshal. He was previously director of product management.
“I’m doing more and more spokesman work all the time, such as talking to journalists, doing analyst briefings and evangelist type work, which is great as I get to talk about the products. A worldwide role from New Zealand is pretty difficult with time zones. You’re dealing with the US early in the morning and doing calls with Europe late at night which impacts on life outside of work.”
Looking to the future, Anstis believes Marshal would benefit from international investment, as its technology is unique. He sees a bright future for Marshal, but to get where it should be it really needs the backing of a good-sized overseas vendor.
His passion for motor racing extends to Formula 1, A1 and the V8 super cars.
“I’ll be heading down to Hamilton for the V8s and the A1 in Taupo. Work has been good because it has enabled me to do midget racing in Australia and I’ve also done quite a bit of racing in America as well, which is the birthplace of midget racing.”
Away from work he also enjoys time with the family.
“I have a son who is 18 months old. He’s getting harder to keep up with and I spend a lot of time with him.”