Getting to know you

Getting to know you

CommVault's Andrew Milburn finds the fairway to management in the IT industry

What was your first job?

I was a tech support guy for a company called WordStar, at the time when WordStar was the biggest thing in word processing in the world.

Where have you worked previously?

I was at WordStar for 18 months before taking up a job with Sharp Electronics. I spent six good years there and worked my way up from being an account manager to national sales manager. I then went to Digital to run its biggest reseller in the UK for three years, and then moved to a data warehousing company just around the time of the dotcom bust. After that I moved to a middleware company. I've known Gerry Sillars [CommVault A/NZ managing director] for 20 years, first as a customer and then as a colleague. We stayed in touch when Gerry moved to Australia. Gerry always said that when the CommVault channel got to the point where it needed somebody to run it full-time, he'd give me a call. That call came last February, and I've been in the country for six months now. It's very different to the UK.

In what ways?

People are much friendlier and there's nobody trying to nail your feet to the floor for a couple of extra points just because it suits them. I think everybody understands there comes a point where you've got to say 'well that's as good as it's going to get'. I also like the way people want to do meetings in coffee shops and restaurants - you don't get that in the UK. The relationships I have developed over six months here would take three or four times as long in the UK because people hold you at arm's length.

What do you like about your current job?

I've joined CommVault Australia at the right time. Gerry spent five years getting it from where it was, which was pretty much nowhere, to being one of the most successful parts of the world for the company. We know we can take it much further by introducing processes to some of the things we carry out in the channel. CommVault is 100 per cent channel, so we're in a position where we can build some very substantial relationships with partners.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

When I was at a data management company, I managed to double the turnover of the channel business I was running there in 12 months. I think the biggest achievement within that was that I did it with the people I started off with.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?

I think it can be quite a fickle industry. You can be everyone's favourite today and tomorrow somebody else has arrived on the patch and nobody is returning your calls.

How do you manage that?

You might not be able to stop the fickleness, but I think if you can build up relationships the way they need to be built, you can certainly delay it. If you build up the strength of the relationship with your partner, then you become an integral part of their business.

What is the next big thing in the IT industry?

I think it's virtualisation - getting away from a 'one operating system, one box' mentality and doing much more with your existing infrastructure. Stepping away from the enterprise space that we operate in, I think miniaturisation is still moving apace. When you see some of the things you can do with the iPhone, for instance, I wonder where it will end. We'll be wearing them on our wrists next.

What is the main focus for the company this year?

To continue the growth we've experienced in the last five years. We believe with version 7.0 of our Simpana software suite that we've got a product that will stand up to pretty much anything in the market. We've only had that product since July, so the focus is more of the same.

What do you do when you're not at work?

I've got two young boys so I spend a lot of time playing dad. I like to play a bit of golf when I can get out - I'm fortunate that my eldest plays as well so I can be a dad and play golf at the same time. Because we've only been in Australia six months, we're also doing a lot of exploring, finding out what's outside of Sydney, and making the most of the weather and the environment.

What's your favourite place in Australia so far?

We went down to near Sussex Inlet [in NSW] and rented a house on the beach, which was a big novelty.

Do you like gadgets?

I love them. I think I probably did before I joined Sharp, but one of the perks of working for Sharp was that you got to borrow things that took quite a while to reach the streets. I also bought one of those Asus Eee PCs on the weekend.

Is the Eee PC any good?

Fantastic. I've got a few spreadsheets that rule my life, but I don't want to take a laptop everywhere with me because battery life is not very good and they are quite big and cumbersome. I saw the Eee PC in Harvey Norman and spent two minutes playing with it. Funnily enough I later read a review that said 'you will know in two minutes if it is the right gadget for you'.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I was all set to join the Royal Air Force until I was about 17, and then my eyesight went downhill to a degree where I wouldn't have passed the medical.

What is you biggest ambition?

To be a single handicap golfer. It's 14 at the moment. Of course, part of that ambition is spending a lot more time playing golf.

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