Determination, valuable advice and industry mentors set Cyara's Asia Pacific (APAC) channel and alliances director Dean Saunders up to carve out a career path in the IT industry. After transitioning into an IT role from his hospitality experience, Saunders learnt some key valuable lessons in company culture and how paying attention to detail led him on the path he is today.
What was your first job?
During the school holidays, my father had the foresight to teach me a valuable lesson. He arranged for me to work with a family friend who was a removalist in Alice Springs where we lived. I learnt a lot about myself and the type of career I wanted after graduating high school while I was moving pianos in 40-degree heat.
My first full time role at the age of 17 was in the accounts department of a large resort. Amongst other tasks, I did payroll for 250 staff using manual timesheets, the IBM mainframe for payroll entry and a PC for completing bank transfers via a modem. I quickly learnt the value of attention to detail, understanding just how crucial it is to get the minute details right – which has served me well throughout my career.
How did you get started in the IT industry and progress to where you are today?
During my time in hospitality, a manager I worked with made the move across to IT. Six months later, he reached out and I transitioned over to the IT department. It was a very steep learning curve. At that time, little did I know that being consistent and customer focused would lead to bigger and better opportunities.
Out of the gate, I was very blessed to have a supportive family and opportunities early in life.
While the opportunities came to me, I had to work hard to ‘master’ things which ultimately helped me build grit.
This determination, together with invaluable advice from a handful of very solid industry mentors, have been my guardrails. Continual learning and self-development have also played a huge part in my growth, providing strong foundations for regional leadership roles.
What are some of your plans for the company in the coming months?
Cyara has enabled organisations to deliver quality CX [customer experience] for the last 16 years with its customer assurance platform, but we are now poised for very exciting times. Funding earlier this year, alongside our acquisition of chatbot testing company Botium, has us positioned for growth.
My focus will be on securing more partners and delivering even more quality customer experiences in Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) whilst expanding our presence into new markets across APAC.
In A/NZ, we will continue increasing penetration into large user organisations and accelerate activity across the mid-market segment. Concurrently, we’ll also be looking to launch our Cyara Botium chatbot testing solution to new and existing customers.
What has been your biggest business mistake and the lessons you've learnt from that experience?
Hanging onto a role at an organisation that was not a good cultural fit. It took a while, but I realised no amount of money is more important than your mental health.
That experience however taught me the value of balance. I’m a big believer in being able to have a laugh at yourself (as many colleagues will attest to) but first you need to feel you’re in a comfortable and supportive environment.
What are some of your ambitions – personally and professionally?
Like a lot of people, my personal ambitions are around family travel after being cut off from the rest of the world for so long. I also have a few big fitness goals for 2023 with preparations underway!
Professionally I am focused on being a key part of Cyara’s growth story. My goal is to significantly increase Cyara’s relevance amongst our partners, show our commitment to new markets and strengthen our channel network across APAC, as the region presents incredible opportunities for Cyara.
What has been the best piece of advice you've ever received?
"Know yourself and know what you are about." This advice has been so important for me, both in situations inside and outside of work when I’ve been required to make a judgement call.