On the lighter side of things we ask Andrew Huntley, Regional Sales Director – ANZ & Pacific Islands at Barracuda, what makes him tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
Building a high performing team at Barracuda is definitely a memorable achievement for me. I joined in 2017, as employee number four in Australia, and, the following year, three of us made it into the Barracuda President’s Club because we exceeded our sales quotas by well over 100%. It was the first time anyone in Australia or New Zealand had come close to that target – and four of us did it again in 2019. Seeing people come together and achieve so much within a short time is incredibly rewarding.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
I didn’t really think of it – it just happened! After I left school in 1984, I started a cadetship to become a structural engineer. Back then, it wasn’t commonplace for someone my age to get a job working on a computer all day but the office was starting to modernize and CAD – Computer Aided Design – was taking off. I took to it quickly and, over time, became a bit of an expert. After 12 years in the CAD vertical, I took a job as a ‘consultant’ – read, salesperson – with a local computer company and began learning about other products like servers and storage. Twenty-five years on, I’m still selling – and still learning!
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
At Barracuda, our success as a company is contingent on maintaining a strong channel. To do that, we have to build trust, by acting with integrity, being accountable and consistently doing the right thing by our partners. That approach flows into the way we function as a sales force too. When you’re a small, fast growing team, it’s very important that individual contributors are accountable for their actions and have one another’s backs. Those are the values I aim to instil.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Secure Access Service Edge [SASE] is a big one, as more businesses migrate to the cloud. So is cloud application security. And then there’s email security – it’s a huge topic that’s unlikely to ever go away, given most cyber-incidents start with an email. Preventing spear phishing and account compromise is critical, and leaders are now alive to the fact that cybersecurity awareness training has a huge part to play. Reducing the incidence of people acting on emails when they shouldn’t can translate into a significant improvement in security posture.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I often talk to my team about transforming stress into positive energy. For me, the best way to do that has always been sport – playing, watching, coaching and spectating. A round of golf once a week is a great way to clear your head of work thoughts. I’m also an avid supporter of cricket. My son plays in an under-12s competition and I’m the team coach, so in summer it’s a race from the ground to the golf course every Saturday morning. Then in winter, it’s tennis and my daughter plays netball…too much sport is never enough!
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
Back in the early noughties, a lot of people in the IT industry were suffering from a bit of burnout, in the wake of Y2K. I was one of them and, as a consequence, I took a job outside the industry, as general manager of a manufacturing company. While it was interesting, moving away from the industry where I’d built my reputation was probably not a great career decision. When I went back to an IT role in 2005, I took a couple of steps back. Remaining on my original career trajectory would have made more sense, in hindsight.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
Cybersecurity is an area where more and more businesses will be spending money – on both technology and human resources. The latter is an area that needs major investment, given the skills shortage we continue to experience here in Australia. Historically, cyber wasn’t something business leaders were all that keen to devote budget to – like insurance, it’s a grudge purchase – but, as they become more informed about the risks, they’re realizing they must.
What are the region specific challenges when implementing new technologies in APAC?
In the Pacific, in particular, connectivity can be a real issue. Lack of it means companies can’t adopt the public cloud, as their counterparts are able to do in Australia and New Zealand. They also struggle with skills and can end up having to pay over the odds to import them. Language isn’t a barrier but you do need to understand the culture; people in the islands tend to be a little more laid back in the way they do things.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
Nothing’s happened in the past year that should change my job…just kidding! Pre-COVID, I was in a different city every second week but I haven’t left our Brisbane office since February last year. Not being able to make those personal connections with staff and channel partners has been very challenging. Having said, we’ve continued to grow the team in spite of the pandemic, partly because we’re in a real sweet spot, technology-wise. I’m looking forward to getting out there again, as the country and the region continue to open up – meeting people face to face always speeds up the sales process and makes it easier for them to do business with you.
What advice would you offer to someone aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
Never lose touch with what’s happening on the ground. If you don’t understand the challenges your customers are facing, it’s really difficult to make sound strategic decisions. Moving up usually means moving around but it’s important to change roles for the right reasons. Don’t just chase the money – look at the people you’ll be working for, and with, and the technology you’ll be exposed to. And don’t burn bridges. It’s 101 when you’re building a channel and a career. If you act with integrity, people will stick with you for the long haul.Click below to share this article