Harnessing skills across global offices.
As senior vice president of Gemcom Software International, my role is to lead the business in Australia and Asia. We sell software and technical mining services to over 750 clients within the region.
I am responsible for staff located in offices and subsidiaries from Australia to Mongolia; from Indonesia to Kazakhstan. My challenge is to try to harness the collective skills of all of these people to meet Gemcom's budgetary and market share objectives.
As I do so, I try to learn as much as possible so that I continue to develop as a person. I believe it is also an essential part of my job to help my staff grow so that they are better equipped to achieve their own personal and career goals.
I started with this company 16 years ago when I joined Surpac Software International, which was acquired by Gemcom in 2006. I started with the company in a business development role and after nine months took on the role of Australian national sales manager.
In 2000, I convinced the board that there was an unrealised opportunity waiting for us in Asia and was awarded the role of general manager, Asia. That was the beginning of a decade of almost constant travel throughout Asia.
In this new role I made my first trip in 2000, visiting many customers in India and then went on to mainland China. The first contract we signed in China was to a design institute that was looking for a 3D modeling software for their project to design the Three Gorges Dam in Central China.
After two years and many trips later I, with my Chinese colleague, signed our first significant contract in China with the Jinchuan nickel mining company. It was a very prestigious client and this order was a significant for our business in China as they became our advocate to the Chinese mining industry and the applicability of our software for Chinese mining companies.
From these experiences I learned the importance of visiting clients no matter where they were. It took me 34 hours on a train to reach Jinchuan, but the trip gave me the opportunity to prove our solution to the business and it gave them the confidence that we were committed. It differentiated us.
In 2004, the company asked me to also take on responsibility for opening business operations in Russia. Traveling there regularly, in addition to my other extensive travel commitments was possibly the hardest thing I have had to do.
It was the only place I ever felt unsafe, had a few uncomfortable incidents and in the one year, two of my clients and one of our partners were murdered emphasising Russia was not an easy market to operate in.
Between 2000 and 2008 I spent half of my life in Asia opening companies and offices in eight countries. At the time my wife and I had a very young family but my wife was – and remains - extremely supportive and she encouraged me in my work.
One thing that has helped keep my job fresh has been the constant change, not just in geography but also in the way the company operates. In 2006 when Gemcom acquired Surpac we went from a small private Australian company, to a TSX-listed public Canadian company. Surpac had been a very profitable business with a fantastic focus on supporting customers.
Under the Gemcom leadership however, it took on a much stronger commercial emphasis and the leadership contributed strongly to stellar market share growth over the following two years. When the GFC hit, (three months after we were purchased by three private equity firms), my territory was expanded to include Australia and I my focus had to shift from growth the earnings, which meant some rationalisation within my team of 80 or so people. In this period we had to be smart, and with a very capable management team we were able to grow our earnings through that difficult period.
Now we've been acquired by Dassault Systèmes, the sixth largest software developer in the world and sees us as the vehicle to leverage its significant technologies into the mining industry. Rather than being part of a company of 400, I am one among 10,000 employees.
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