When we open ourselves up to the collective knowledge, wisdom and perspective of those around us, and when we include others’ views and experiences, we collaborate for much better outcomes than if we just try to go it alone.
This is one key lesson that AppDynamics regional vice president for A/NZ Antoine Le Tard has learnt in his career.
Starting out selling computer hardware, Le Tard takes us through his leadership journey and moving from South Africa to calling Sydney home.
What was your first job?
I’ve had many ‘first’ jobs. I started working at 10 years old running a paper route, and at 13, I worked at an ice-rink. At 16, I was juggling two jobs in a pizza shop and at a video store. The first step towards my professional career came as a sales consultant at UniRom, a computer retail store, selling computer hardware, software and peripherals, when I was 19.
How did you get started in the IT industry and progress to where you are today?
My professional career started out in computer retail where I worked for about a year before an opportunity became available to join a software distributor, Workgroup Distribution. They were the first Microsoft distributor in South Africa and I joined them as a member of their sales team, selling broad-range software to retail stores and system integrators. I was with Workgroup for most of my early career, working my way from inside sales to tech support, to finally product management. In my last role, I was responsible for managing three of their largest vendors in Microsoft, Novell and Computer Associates.
The next big step in my career was at UUNET (internet service provider) where I was an account manager for small- to medium-sized businesses. After a couple of years, I left UUNET for a short while and eventually ended up going back after Verizon acquired the company.
In 2008, my wife and I moved our young family from South Africa to Sydney and I was lucky enough to make the move with Verizon. Fast forward a couple of years, a good friend connected me with the general manager of RSA A/NZ to explore the potential of joining as a sales director.
I took the job and after some time, I was asked to become the general manager for RSA A/NZ where I was for almost four years and successfully led the team through a number of significant changes. Last year, I was approached to take on the role of AppDynamics’ regional vice president for A/NZ.
What are some of your plans for AppDynamics in the coming months?
To rest on an old cliché, the customer really is at the centre of everything we do. We’ve invested heavily in a number of areas that we know will have the greatest impact for our customers. We understand that our customers rely on the performance of their applications now more so than ever. Customers recognise the need for application performance monitoring (APM) as a critical component in accelerating digital transformation initiatives and delivering world class digital customer experience. AppDynamics enables enterprises to get immediate, clear and actionable insights, by correlating application performance, user experience and business outcomes.
For many organisations though, the move to multi-cloud architectures that include a mix of on-premises and public cloud platforms is creating new, complex challenges. We’re expanding our capabilities to include deep visibility across the public Internet, which is critical in both delivering seamless customer access and interconnecting cloud and on-premises application components.
Over the next couple of months, we will also continue to invest in our relationships with strategic partners because we recognise that solving complex problems requires collaboration. And something that’s close to my heart is employee growth and engagement, we will continue our efforts in attracting top talent that want to join a company that believes in the power of creating positive impact.
What has been your biggest business mistake, and the lessons you've learnt from that experience?
I believe there are no mistakes, only opportunities to learn. I have been exceedingly fortunate to be supported by strong leaders and mentors that have provided the space for me to grow, stumble, learn and keep growing throughout my career. If I had to choose, one of my biggest lessons is the realisation that my ego held me back from achieving much greater success earlier on in my career.
When we believe we are the experts or that we know everything, we limit our creative potential and opportunity for growth. But when we are open to learning, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to know we don’t have all the answers and courageous enough to press on without seeing the full picture. When we open ourselves up to the collective knowledge, wisdom and perspective of those around us and when we include others’ views and experiences, we collaborate for much better outcomes than if we just try to go it alone.
What are some of your ambitions – personally and professionally?
My personal and professional ambitions used to be separate, however, over time and the more I explore leadership, they are becoming one and the same. What more can we ask for than a healthy and happy family, a place to call home, and a job that brings deep fulfilment and growth? I have been blessed with a beautiful, supportive family, the opportunity to call Australia home and an outstanding job, working for a world-class company with remarkable people.
What I truly care about now is having a positive impact on the people I meet, the customers I serve and the communities I am part of. Having a positive impact means that I need to be engaged in a mindset of continual learning of myself, my craft and the world around me. Continually ‘sharpening the saw’ as Stephen Covey puts it. In doing so, I hope to become a better human being, father, husband, friend, colleague and employee – ultimately, a better citizen of the world.
What has been the best piece of advice you've ever received?
This is a tough one as I’ve received so much great advice, not just from immediate leaders and mentors but friends and family too! Perhaps I would say this: Love the work, do the work. We have good days and bad days at work, and in life in general. However, if you are deeply passionate about what you do, the hard days can be seen as a whetstone to sharpen your resolve and resilience, while the good days are there as a reflection of your dedication and sacrifice. Believe in yourself. Develop a growth mindset, treat challenges with respect and curiosity, and don’t give up – there are many pathways to the same destination. Be kind to yourself and others too.
Finally, Minouche Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics is quoted as saying, “In the past, jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in the future they’ll be about the heart.” I believe it is here, in connecting with heart, that our greatest opportunity for advancing human progress exists.
When we can transform our thinking, we can transform our feelings and in turn, transform one another through the very act of authentic connection and interaction.