Incoming Ingram general manager Jay Miley is a Californian. He grew up in Cypress; the small town’s main claim to fame is it being the stomping grounds for golf legend Tiger Woods.
Miley’s older brother went to UCLA a few years ahead of him and the sibling rivalry prompted Miley to go to the University of California (USC) in Santa Barbara.
“My brother went to UCLA, so I swore not to go there. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara where I studied business economics and political science. I took as long as I could to get out of there; Santa Barbara was a pretty nice place to live at the time. I guess you could say that I conned my parents into keeping me there, I told them I was doing a double major. In reality I just wanted to hang out there for a while before reality baked in.”
In September 1994 Miley joined Ingram Micro as an honour graduate fresh out of university and moved to southern Orange County, less than 30 miles from where he grew up.
“At Ingram Micro I’ve played a lot of different roles. I started out in sales and operations before moving into some project management. I spent several years in the finance function prior to stepping into a role in marketing. I ran marketing projects, primarily based around pricing and value recapturing”.
Miley’s final job in the US was a vendor management role similar to the marketing function at Ingram in New Zealand. He managed the high end storage and components business.
“It was a pretty big business, and I had been putting my hand up for international experience. When Tony [Butler] decided to take on his next challenge in life, whatever that might be, they asked me if I would be interested in doing this. It was really a no-brainer for me, and surprisingly the wife was eager to try something new. We have two daughters, both of whom are in the age range that if you are going to go on an international assignment for several years, now is really the time to do it.”
Never having been to New Zealand on vacation or through work, Miley says he never had his sights set on the other side of the world.
“Ironically, if you’re an English speaker, there are only so many countries in the world that would be a relatively easy transition in terms of communication capabilities. Albeit that I never had my sights aimed on New Zealand, it was a really easy decision for me. New Zealand has a very good reputation in the US, so I was really excited. I wouldn’t say I was scared, but I think everybody has some anxiety about big moves like this. I really view this as a great opportunity for me and my family. We get to spend time in a different culture and a different geographical location.”
According to Miley, New Zealand is not all that different from the US, although he admits that he comes from a small town and thinks Auckland is a big city.
“New Zealand is not all that different, but the one thing that struck me is that everybody here seems pretty nice and open. Most people here are straight shooters, and it seems to me that people are honest and nice. I’ve never lived in a real big city, so to me Auckland has a real big-city feel about it. My wife is from Seattle, and in some respects I think the two cities are a lot the same. Living in relatively small towns in the US, Auckland actually seems like a pretty happening place. So far, I’d say that in this industry, ways of doing business are fairly similar. There are nuances that give a different look to the marketplace, but at the end of the day we are still trying to accomplish the same thing.”
Adjusting to a new job and a new country, Miley says he has received help from his employees as well as former managing director, Tony Butler.
“Of all the people I have met with in the organisation there is not a single one where I walked away from the meeting thinking ‘there is absolutely need for improvement here.’ Without exceptions, I believe they are all world class. I feel pretty comfortable that the team has the assets you need to run a successful business. Tony has been great, He has really provided quite a bit of mentorship to me. He has been here almost every day, helping with the transition. He’s gone above and beyond the call of duty and I’d go as far as to say that we’ve forged a friendship. He will be someone I call on for a long time to gain his recommendations; he’s sort of a legend in the marketplace here.”
Growing up in the same town as Tiger Woods may have contributed to Miley’s love for golf. He has not felt destined for the IT industry, and if he had the luxury he says he would go back and work on his PhD and followed in his brother’s footsteps. The only thing stopping him, he says, is that he is a capitalist at heart.
“My father is the person who gave me my value set and the trait of perseverance. I might not be the smartest guy in the world, but I work pretty darn hard to improve myself and those around me.”
Probably MyYahoo.com, but locally I like TradeMe
Golf and Soccer
Favorite cocktail recipe
Bombay Gin and tonic or a vodka red bull for those long nights
If you could have a cup of coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
USC football coach Pete Carroll
What has been the most important technology advancement in IT?
The wireless revolution
If you weren’t in IT, what would you be doing?
Probably the same as my brother; a professor
What book is currently on your bedside table?
Right now I’m reading The Google Story by David Vise
Who is/was your mentor?
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