A part time job selling bamboo calendars during his university years set Gary Mitchell up for his sales career journey. As the current A/NZ vice president for Veeam, he takes us through his career challenges, from being made redundant in his first country manager role more than 20 years ago to turning that into an opportunity to grow and witnessing Veeam nab pole position in the market.
What was your first job?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Business degree and my first full time job was with Ernst & Young. I worked in various capacities ranging from accounting, audit, tax planning and business consulting. It certainly taught me the value of my time. I recall I was charged out to customers at about eight times more than I was paid back in those days.
Interestingly, it was my part-time job during university semester break in the December holidays each year, which formed the early beginnings of a sales career. I sold bamboo calendars door to door. In my final two years at university my brother and I imported half a container load of calendars and conscripted some friends to work with us.
No shortage of pressure with pre-paid stock sitting in the back yard that effectively had a used-by date on it!
How did you get started in the IT industry and progress to where you are today?
One of my customers at Ernst & Young was a software company. I ended up joining them and progressed to finance director for APJ and then moved across to sales four years later. That was 30 years ago, and I’ve been in sales, sales management and regional leadership roles in A/NZ and APJ ever since.
What are some of your plans for the company in the coming months?
IDC’s latest Software Tracker for Data Replication and Protection listed Veeam in the number one revenue market share spot for the very first time. When I joined almost five years ago, we were in fifth and leapfrogged some pretty impressive vendors each year to get to number one.
But the market has changed a lot during that time. The new frontier is hybrid and public cloud. There is no clear number one for data protection in that space yet and we are very focused on being the leading provider in that sector as well.
What has been your biggest business mistake, and the lessons you've learnt from that experience?
I got made redundant in my first country management role over 20 years ago when the organisation I was working for was acquired by private equity and the new owners essentially took an entire level of management out globally.
The mistake I made was to dwell on my misfortune way too long. Three months later I gave myself an 'attitude adjustment' and chose to look at it as an opportunity to grow and do something bigger and better. I have used that philosophy with any speed bump along the way and have never looked backwards since.
What are some of your ambitions -- personally and professionally?
These days my number one ambition is to help others achieve whatever their ambitions are. Both personally and professionally. It’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done and continue to do.
What has been the best piece of advice you've ever received?
People 'respect' what you 'inspect'. In a world of increased matrix management and competing agendas this holds even truer today than when I learned it many years ago. Great long-term results follow from your consistent long term focus and inspection.