Legends of Tech
A weekly podcast where Chris Georgellis, on the Customer Development Team, interviews people across the tech industry. From veterans, to hall of famers, day to day tech industry people as well up and comers. Get to know them as individuals, find out what drives them, how they got into tech, and what they see now.
And we're live. Well, good morning. Welcome. Thank you. Very good. So today is our debut of Legends of Tech and our guest is Raymond Maisano.
So Raymond has a very colourful career spanning from the late 80s to now.
He's worked for companies such as BHP, Dimension Data, HP, VMware and now Cloudflare.
A couple of notable highlights that I've sort of seen since I've been following Raymond is, you know, his record market share when he was running the Lades business when it was at HP and I guess we'd love to talk about that.
But I guess, you know, some of the things that come to mind when I guess when I see Raymond, you know, he's obviously very creative, he's very cultured, he seems to be a very good mentor, he's all about the people, he's all about customers and he's all about giving clarity.
In terms of his specialties, you know, he's obviously business, he's got sales and channel experience, he has the ability to adapt and, you know, he's obviously strong in security, cloud networking and obviously servers.
So I'm honoured to have you as my first guest for Legends of Tech, Raymond.
So thanks for joining. Pleasure, pleasure. It was very nice of you to say those kind words and to remember some of the highlights.
It's nice to be on. Absolutely, thank you. So obviously, you know, there would have been a start point for you to get into IT and I'm always fascinated to hear stories of how did people actually crack in.
Some people are very intentional, some people got into IT by accident.
So I'd love to understand how you got into IT and what sort of drove you into that area.
Well, I was thinking about this one when you asked me to do this.
I thought, well, how do I recall getting started in IT?
Strangely enough, the school that I went to, good old Essendon High, they had an exchange program for six months and RMIT had only, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, which is now a university, were trialling that only, it was only around for about five years and they trialled a six-month education program and we were guinea pigs and it was for computer electronics, is what it was called.
So that was my Form 4, Year 10, so I would have been, I think I'm guessing, 15, 14, 15, something like that.
So it was quite an adventure where we actually left the school, we caught the train into the city, which was very cool and unique, as a group of a bunch of, well, it was a bunch of boys, unfortunately, it was just boys, and we went in and did this six-month course at RMIT and I remember being a little bit of the odd one out because I'd not had computers, I'd not been into any of the computer stuff until then.
Most of the other kids who were in that class had, what was the computer at the time, the Atari 64 or the Commodore VIC-20 or whatever those were back then.
I'm really showing my age now. So they understood a little bit about programming and they all had, they came into the class with these games and we started working on these computers and had no idea what we were doing, but it was really raw computer electronics and then a little bit of programming.
Anyway, it was a six-month subject and then went back to school to normal.
I was really strong in maths and accounting and for some reason sort of finished up my high school education thinking, okay, economics and accounting seems to be the right sort of path.
So I went to uni first year and was doing my economics course and it felt a bit dry, didn't really feel like it was a great fit.
I loved the problem-solving piece in the accounting aspect of it and one of the electives at uni was a new subject called computer accounting.
So that was one of the electives I did.
I got into that and thought, actually really enjoyed, really gravitated to the computer aspect of taking the problem, figuring out how to make it work on the computer and then solving the problem that way.
So I sort of got to the end of first year and thought, the economics piece isn't working.
I don't feel really aligned but, you know, let's just sort of look out in the world and see what's going on.
BHP were taking what essentially we would call now as interns.
So I found, I got accepted into BHP as one of the sort of accounting cadets and the plan was I'd work at BHP, finish my degree part-time and then sort of continue to develop.
So I did that for the next 12 months continuing on the course that I was and then the more and more I was doing the accounting aspect of it, realised there was no way I was going to do this as a career.
And then I actually got the opportunity to do some development work as part of BHP on one of the new programs that we're doing and realised computers were where I had an obsession, I had a real passion.
And then managed to find the right applied science, computer science course at Monash and then switch my course over, finish my degree that way with BHP sponsoring which was awesome.
They were awesome and then spent the next 11 years at BHP, you know, building a portfolio of tech support and some development work and strange things that I was doing.
I wrote a payroll system for the Wharfies down at Western Port Bay who were unloading still slabs off a big tanker and those sorts of things don't come as far as opportunities too often and that's what really pulled me into IT as an industry, just being able to do those sorts of things.
So that sort of set me off on the path of being a computing nerd.
Okay, great. So in terms of, I guess, BHP, how important and relevant was IT when you started the organisation?
I was incredibly lucky, it was incredibly lucky to, one, be taken as an intern early.
So I hadn't finished my degree and I was taken in under the aspect of, you know, becoming an accountant.
And BHP was such a great organisation to help develop people.
Their IT arm was just starting to build and, I mean, really they didn't have much as an IT service.
The first machines that we were using were XTs and I still remember to this day, you know, the first computer, the green screen with the XT and the five and a quarter inch floppy drives trying to run, you know, Lotus 1, 2, 3 on there.
That was the extent of the computing that they had and this is a huge mining company but they had money to buy those sorts of computers.
But they really encouraged personal development and gave me opportunities.
And as the IT functions continued to embed themselves in the business as they started to find ways of automating processes, etc., I got the opportunity to run such large projects being part of our core development and, more importantly, developed incredible relationships with people who are now in, you know, certainly great industries and leaders in industries because, you know, it was just a really fertile ground for fueling innovation and development and we got the opportunity to really, well, as far as BHP were concerned, to innovate and unfortunately they had some money that allowed us to really test some technologies and to push the boundaries of what they were doing.
So, got a great opportunity to really understand the path of IT, understand all different elements, whether it be from the dev side to production sides to mining systems to, you know, I got to go on a big coal hauler in the middle of a coal pit because we were running a maintenance program for IT.
So, just an incredible experience and one of the most enjoyable times, you know, being in your early 20s and, you know, touring, well, certainly most of Australia into some of these places.
It's, you know, I'm very thankful to have had that opportunity.
That's great and in terms of, I mean, if you look at your stint at BHP, I guess, were there two or three things for you that sort of, you know, highlights or achievements that you that you had made during that time?
Yeah, I got to, as I said, I sort of went through the transition into, you know, just sort of tech support, help desk type support and then got the opportunity to run a couple of projects in there which continued to build up my broader knowledge.
Worked with the comms team, wiring up RS-232 little serial plugs to run some print sharing program because, you know, there was no such thing as network printers back then.
So I got the opportunity to work on such different tech pieces and really, really early tech pieces.
And then the big one for me was I got off of my first essentially leadership role to run strategy and architecture for BHP Minerals or BHP Coal as it was.
Leave home out of Melbourne, move up to Brisbane and to to lead that and to be part of driving the strategy for for what technology we were going to use and implement at all the mine sites.
And, you know, for me that was one of the one of the big highlights because, you know, one I had to elevate the first time I then was asked to manage people.
And I guess when you're in your, you know, sort of mid to late 20s and got a sense of, you know, all this stuff that you're doing, you feel like you are an expert at everything.
And clearly managing people, I was an expert straight away.
But that was a bit of a rude awakening of what it's actually really like to manage people, but also a great learning.
And again, BHP, we're really good about developing people and developing their skills.
And, you know, I still view that time of running that program in out of the Brisbane office is one of the highlights of my personal development career.
Fantastic. So we see like, obviously, in many careers transition seems to be, you know, often, but some people get sort of stuck as well.
Well, they find it hard to transition. So you went from being obviously a technical person sort of on the tools, then you got thrusted into, I guess, a leadership role, people management role.
I mean, in your mind, how did you make that step to go actually, you know what, I actually want to give it a go.
And what did you do to prepare yourself for that transition? Well, I think it comes back to maybe it's a little bit of ego, where you want to rule the world and take over everything.
And it just it just seemed to be the logical path, the development piece of managing people.
And it just seemed to be the way, well, at least it was something that I was aspiring to do.
Fortunately, fortunately, it was identified early that, you know, as a very new people leader, there's skills that need to be developed as part of that.
And again, I credit BHP's development program for supporting and getting me on to a course straight away about understanding managing people.
As an individual contributor, it's easy to be self obsessed around developing your own skills and or being smarter at what you do or being better at what you do or work how you do better.
But when you when you switch into a leadership, people leadership role, it's about how you can coach and mentor.
And, you know, that was my first real education. And I still remember to this day of the course that we went on.
It was my first time that I did the Maya Briggs assessment to find out, hang on, I'm an ENTP.
What the hell does that mean?
What do you mean that I come across as being very arrogant? That doesn't make sense to me.
But it was it was a it was very much an awakening of people's perception of you as opposed to your perception of what you can do.
So, so that was a good, good introduction to developing me as a as a person.
So in terms of service, you transition to management, obviously, you would have been a young leader within your business.
I'm sure there would have been others that were more senior than you, in terms of tenure, or older than you as a obviously as a person.
May or may not, if that was the case, how did you handle managing people that were more senior of you or older than you as a as an individual?
Yeah, it wasn't too long. It was probably six months after after moving into this role, where, you know, one of my team, I was 27, something like that.
And one of my team was 40.
I remember Pat was part of my team. And the thing that I recall the most was, I'll leave his name as just Pat.
The thing that I recall the most is you start to, you start to hear about their personal situations where I had no experience of understanding.
He was married, I wasn't. He was talking about some of the issues that he was contending with, and I had to, I had to help, you know, sort of guiding through or listen to the challenges that he had.
And that was something that I wasn't necessarily prepared for.
So fortunately, fortunately, there were, again, it's about understanding people.
I spent more time worrying about them, as opposed to thinking of me.
And I think that was the, you know, the first foray into being a better people leader than, than worrying just about myself.
Yeah, fair enough. And, and then from that point on, how long were you in that leadership position for?
I think, if I recall correctly, it would have been, I was about four years in that role, came back and did, came back in Melbourne, did maybe another 12-18 months before I moved out into, into the other side of the industry.
When I went to, there was ComTech at the time, Dye Data, as they turned out, which is now NTT.
Yeah, so tell us, tell us about that transition.
So obviously, you're working with BHP, you were there for nine years, you've obviously had a good career.
What made you sort of go, okay, I've, I've had my time here, and now it's time to move on to another, I guess, to another area?
Yeah, I wonder about that sometimes. I had, I'd had a really great opportunity to develop every couple of years, I was given a new opportunity and continued to develop in, in new roles.
And it was all sort of leading towards the office of the CIO for the greater BHP.
It was final two decisions between, I won't say who the person's name was.
But it was this other person and myself, I didn't get the role.
Essentially, I spat the dummy and said, that's it, I'm out, and decided to look out.
Dye Data were bringing on what they call business consultants at the time, people who can help, help the translation between tech and business value and business cases.
And I saw the opportunity to, you know, try something a little different and jump out of BHP, given, I was just a little bit frustrated that I felt that I hit the ceiling.
Probably not the wisest of decisions at the time, but it was the decision I made and moved into Dye Data.
And then spent the next couple of years at Dimension Data.
So how was it going from being on the end user side and now being into the, onto the other side?
Incredibly strange. I did find it very awkward.
I spent most of the time challenging everyone at Dye Data, the reasons why we're doing things.
Fortunately, Dye Data were working on a program called Directors Online, where they were building some automation, sorry, some, they were converting traditional board papers into electronic versions for the directors, the board, to consume electronically, rather than having to have piles of papers delivered to their houses every month.
And that project, which was running for a little bit, got me an opportunity to be put in as a consultant into ANZ Bank.
And where I felt more comfortable, again, being on the customer side, and sort of managing the balance between what we were doing as a project team and what the bank was consuming.
Essentially, that sort of got me into being part of a comfort piece that I was at.
And then for the next couple of years, was essentially consulting directly into the CIO, because this was a high visibility project.
And David Boyles, who was the CIO of ANZ Bank at the time, certainly wanted to make sure all the board knew of him and the value that he was delivering to the board.
So he kept personal tabs on this project and ran that for a little while.
So it turned out to be frustrating to start with, and then smoothed out, because I found a sort of comfort place of where I was.
And, you know, similar for that, after a couple of years, sort of got to a point where I thought, well, why am I doing this for someone else into another organisation?
If I'm going to do that, why am I joining the organisation? But, you know, again, those times, pointing times where you take a call from someone and you think, okay, this could be interesting.
And it opened up another door for me, which was my next move.
Fair enough. Just in terms of obviously, you saw how BHP operated as a business in an IT function.
And then you saw the ANZ business. How, I guess, how different or similar were the way they used IT to deliver business outcomes?
Well, actually, really good question. Not one that I thought too much about.
If you put it in the context, I was 11 years at BHP, and we're only just starting on the first five years.
I mean, IT was so new as a function then, you know, in the late 80s.
So the 90s was that real boom of what was happening as far as tech was concerned.
ANZ Bank were clearly, as a bank, had a much greater investment, but you also recognise that it was much later in time.
So hard to have a direct comparison.
But the IT function was so much more solid, so much more integrated.
So many more people aligned around coding and development of their business apps, etc.
Their IT group would have been two, three times the size of what BHP's was, certainly from when I started.
So it was a much more integrated business. And they were at the time, again, now we're into the late 90s, I think it is, they were at the time going through a transition.
They were looking at changing their architecture from the big monolith mainframes into the client-server tech.
As I'm sure many of our viewers will remember that client-server world, and looking to move some of that tech workload into Windows servers and starting to push the boundaries of what they were doing there.
That was also quite innovative of what they did.
I think we were actually having this conversation last week. I do remember being one of the first people to help Radware bring in their load balancers into Australia for the ANZ project, because they were putting their first release of Internet banking out, and it was the only device that could do a persistent connection between multi-users off different servers.
So it's quite ironic that they're a competitor of ours now.
And they're probably still deploying the same stuff.
So, you know, I guess the IT function has always been, I guess, the younger of the functions when you look at accounting, and you look at all the other business units within IT, and I think within a business.
And I think some things, I mean, what I remember, they sort of saw IT as an afterthought or not relevant to that.
So obviously you've come into businesses where IT was ramping up and going into the boom time.
If you look at how IT was viewed then and what it delivered now, compared to now, how have you seen that transition, and how much maturity have you seen over that period of time to now?
Oh, it's definitely enormous maturity, and more importantly, professionalism.
You know, I wind back to BHP, and we were just trying things, and if they fall over, they fall over, and people accepted it.
You sort of continue to transition and move into the real world of, you know, production and enterprise class.
The bank, you know, change controls and the due diligence of maintaining operations and maintaining, you know, multiple minds' availability is very different to where it was when we started.
So tolerance has gone out, you know, the expectation of always on, always functional, always operating, bug-free.
We know that these aren't, that's a nirvana, but that's the expectations that businesses set now.
So there's a stark difference between where it was.
It was cowboys when, cowboys sort of, you know, out at the wild west when we started, just because, you know, a lot of this tech was just new.
You know, I go back and reflect, and I didn't realize at the time, but you think of the Macs, Steve Jobs and Wozniak only just invented the Apple Mac a few years before I joined BHP, and now, you know, we expect we're working on, I mean, I'm talking to you through one great big Mac sitting on my desk right now, so you know, that's so many years away, but the expectation of maturity and professionalism around what happens in the integration and risk mitigation, all those things, IT has enabled that function, but it's also had to participate in that function as well in order to ensure that, you know, tech is better served.
Yeah, of course, that's a good point. I think, you know, when you look at it holistically like that, you'd think now that probably IT is probably one of the key pillars in any organization.
If you're not driving, you know, your digital strategy and you're not enabling your business with IT, then you're sort of going to be left behind.
Yeah, it's so true. I mean, so true. Yeah, sorry.
Yeah, no, of course. So, look, obviously you've gone BHP, you did the NTT, or sorry, Dimension Data, or ComTech back then, what it was called.
So, why the move to HP, and how did that come about?
Well, strangely enough, I actually got a phone call from someone I knew at Microsoft, and they were hiring, and I went and interviewed at Microsoft, and was flown to Sydney for my final interview when I got a phone call from an old friend of mine, Craig Williams, who was at Compaq at the time, and he happened, and I remember walking out in between interviews, because there was a few interviews lined up on the day.
I walked out between interviews, and I saw a missed call from Craig, so I called him back, because I figured, oh, Craig's going to invite me to play golf, because Craig's a great golfer.
And so I called him back, and he said, what are you up to? And I said, I'm in Sydney.
What are you doing in Sydney? Just doing my final interview at Microsoft.
Stop. Don't do it. Wait. So, yeah, again, this is a slime storm moment for me, because that was a done deal, and I said, no, I'm just about to join.
He said, no, wait, you want to come and join us.
We want to bring you on as a business consultant.
And I said, no, no, this is done.
And literally, that was a Friday. On Monday, they had a formal offer on my table, so I couldn't believe that they could turn around a deal that quickly.
And I figured, if they wanted me that badly, OK. It was a good reason to join.
And I joined. And that was the next 15 years of my career, which is astounding to think that it was at one place, but clearly there was lots of changes in that organisation.
So why did you do it? I know they came after you in the final stages with Microsoft.
So what made you go, you know what, I should take up this offer?
Well, the idea at the time was similar to the function I played at Comtech, was to have someone who could now start to build or bridge the gap between understanding the customer and understanding the tech.
And as someone who's always really enjoyed the tech, translating that into the business speak of, this is the value that you get out of using these technologies.
I really enjoyed doing that and walking that path.
So, conceptually, the role aligned to what I'd like to do.
And I'd had great exposure into Comtech, given when I ran the strategy and architecture business at Minerals.
I made the transition off IBM. It was a very shocking decision to have made at BHP at the time and brought Comtech in because they were innovative.
They were really changing the dynamics. We weren't going to pay for those PS2s, those hugely expensive devices.
$8,000 for a desktop machine is like ridiculous when I can buy a Comtech PC for two and a half K.
I think those were the sorts of numbers back then.
So, yeah, I had great exposure to them.
There was a bit of an affinity to the product. I thought they were a really innovative company.
I had, obviously, some relationships in there with the team. And the speed of which they wanted to, they jumped in order to put something really attractive in front of me made me feel really welcome.
So, I made the move. Fair enough.
Then 15 years at HP, a lot of roles. It sounds strange when you say it like that.
It was most definitely never the intention. Yeah, I'm sure. So, when you joined HP, in terms of what was happening in the industry, what were sort of the trends or what were the sort of transitions that were happening at that time when you joined?
Well, if I remember correctly, Compaq had only just, well, Intel really announced it, but Compaq were the first to market with the 486, literally around that time.
So, Pentiums weren't even out yet. People are still probably rolling their heads going, I don't know what he's talking about.
But the precursor to whatever the i7 processor is.
But that was the tech. They were innovative.
They were bringing out these servers that you can put under your desk in order to run office functions and share files and really drive something innovative.
And it was taking out IT from that traditional back office pace into the into the workspace.
So, I thought that that part of the tech piece was evolving really fast and was going to really continue to drive innovation.
I talked about some of that client-server piece of what was happening and that transition of moving lots of that workload out of the back office into giving people more power at the desk at their workstation was really starting to evolve.
So, I thought that in hindsight, maybe Microsoft was better at doing that and more in control of what was happening as far as their office suite and the products that they were bringing out.
But I had an affinity to the hardware side and really wanted to be part of being a bit transformative of what was going on in the industry.
So, I moved across in order to do that.
Cool. So, you came on board as a consultant and then fast forward a couple of years, you're now running the Blades business within HP.
That is a few years. Well, it was a couple of years. The business consultant, Compaq had no idea how to start a business consult.
So, it very much sort of pushed me into a pre-sales function, which is very strange, very quickly.
But fast forward into moved out of what was going on at the time.
HP had, oh sorry, Compaq as it was.
No, it was actually HP, sorry. HP Compaq merge happened maybe a couple of years after I joined.
And then my function had moved into the server part of the business, given some of the innovation pieces that I was talking about.
ProLiance were, well, and have been for many, many years, the industry leading server for x86 infrastructure.
And I guess HP and the industry was looking at what they could do to be innovative, to really change that footprint.
IBM had come out with their Blade business to try to really disrupt the market hold that HP had.
And for the first maybe three or four years of that part of that new part of that industry, maybe two years, that new part of the industry were really dominating.
Compaq came out with what they call the Blade system.
And I remember my boss at the time, Stephen Bovis, who's now the country MD for HPE.
We were having a conversation around, who's going to lead this to market?
Because you've got to really, you've got to cannibalize part of your own business in order to build the scale of this.
And I was just a server sales specialist at the time.
And strangely enough, looking after ANZ Bank, continue to gravitate back to ANZ Bank.
And so I had no idea about being product management or any of those sorts of things to lead a product to market.
But I went to him with a bunch of, here's the problem, this is what's going on.
This is what you need to do. Here's my ideas of what you should do.
Yeah, make it, you should make it happen. And then he said, great, you got the job.
That's what I asked for. So yeah, got to head up that part of the business for launching the C -Class Blades in Australia and New Zealand.
So how was that? So you've got an idea, you've done an analysis of the market, you've done the research, you've given your boss a plan and he's turned around to you and saying, all right, well, it's here you go, son, go after it.
So yeah, I mean, how was that?
How did you see that? And I guess, what was your reaction to that?
Well, my reaction was originally, I'm not sure I have any idea. I know, I have no idea what I'm going to do.
I really didn't. I mean, I had some ideas around capturing the corporate aspect of the market, but there was so much of running a part of the business into the market I had no idea with and I didn't understand that there was distribution.
I didn't even know what distributors did and I did not have exposure to it because I was running part of the enterprise sales space.
I was dealing with customers directly and distribution, if they were there, well, it certainly weren't in the high-end enterprise customers that we're dealing with because they were tier one.
So yeah, I didn't know what distribution was, didn't really care about channel partners, which is horrific and didn't understand about building volume and market share and I didn't understand the full piece of marketing, all this sort of stuff.
But I did know that we had an opportunity to be incredibly disruptive and that was so exciting that I was more excited about the opportunity and less concerned about the things I didn't know and figured if I charge forward knowing at least being passionate about representing what I do, we'll work the other things out.
The smartest decision that I made there is acknowledge that I don't know everything and had some great people and brought some great, great people into the team to help make the hook and make sure I had someone who could manage the distribution part of the business, someone who could manage the product management piece, the supply chain aspects, which up until then, I didn't even understand what the supply chain meant.
And then manage the process of importing the supply chain to actually manufacturing the supply chain as we assemble products in Australia as well.
So it was a massive learning curve.
But again, the best part was the people around me is what made that business so successful.
It wasn't me. It was very much a team that really took on the message and then ran with the passion of making it successful.
That's incredible. So you've now had a moment of BHP where you got thrusted into a leadership position.
And when you're at HP, you get thrusted into this role.
Now, again, it's one of those things. Did you base your decision on gut instinct or was it based on something that you had planned to do?
No, I hadn't planned on doing it.
It wasn't something that I thought I was going to do. It was certainly something I felt passionate about, but it was very opportunistic.
And once I saw the opportunity, I realised that this could open up a complete different path for me as far as my IT, as far as my career to get IT, as far as my career.
And I saw this as an opportunity to really broaden my skill set. Yeah, it was very much opportunistic.
Right. And what advice would you give to people that are in similar situations?
They're presented with an opportunity and they don't feel either confident or comfortable to make the leap and actually do something that they've got no sort of idea on what it is.
I mean, you just mentioned you didn't know about supply chain, you didn't know about product management, you didn't know about marketing.
Yet you went, OK, I'm going to give it a go. I've seen that can be a bit of a disabler for people because some people want to have everything perfect.
So what sort of advice can you give to people that may come to a crossroads like that and potentially either gain an opportunity or may miss out on an opportunity if they don't take advantage of it?
Yeah, I think it's important that I think everyone should really follow where their passions are.
And for me, there was the excitement around being leading something transformative, something that was going to change.
But I think the important bit is just understanding what fuels you, what fuels your excitement.
And some people, it's not change, it's more consistency.
For other people, it's around being disruptive and changing and or innovative.
The thing that I will say, if the opportunity presents, you should follow things that you're passionate about, because when you're passionate about something, you give 100%.
And even if you are not, if you don't have all the skills and capabilities to do it, I think it's building the confidence in yourself to invest in learning.
And again, if it's, if you've got the passion and desire behind you, you will help learn, you will make yourself learn, it's easier to learn when you're excited about something than when it's something difficult to learn.
So yeah, my advice is, you know, be honest with be honest with yourself, it may be a great opportunity, it may seem like a great opportunity, but if you don't feel like you're going to be excited about it, then my advice is that, you know, that's that's really your, your gut instinct saying, you know, it's probably not something that I want to invest my time in when you're putting so much effort into what we do.
But if you can't be excited about what you do, then you're probably in the wrong area.
Fair enough. And in terms of, I guess, you know, there's obviously you trying to achieve something, and you got to go and learn all these new skills.
Did you have any guides or mentors that sort of sat around you or helped you through this?
And if you did, how important were they?
Yeah, there were there were many at the time. At the time back in BHP, there were there were people who are leading the business areas.
The person who was the leading the tick marketing team, Angus, was, you know, a great learner, a teacher for me who helped me understand the value of all the elements of bringing those four P's together.
I think that was a really good person to be to be working with.
Our sales operations at the time, Catch Me Renaldo, helped with the metrics.
I'm a numbers person. So that gave me that that helped comfort me that, okay, we're on track, we're doing things the right way, or we're starting to get traction.
So having the numbers sort of feed in and give you affirmation and confirm that, you know, you're you are what you're what you're setting out to do is starting to show the traction.
Really, the mentor that I've had for many years, Craig Williams, who has been a big supporter of mine over many years.
He's the one he's been my sounding board. And I think that's an important thing for everyone is, is there's many times where I've gone to Craig and said, I'm thinking of doing this.
Are you crazy? What are you thinking about? I think having some good mentors in in your life are important just to flesh out ideas, maybe or ideas or decisions.
There's many times where, where you just need to articulate them.
If you're not, if you're not having the conversation in your mind, it's good to get them out loud.
And it's good to at least soundboard them against someone who you've got experience with or someone you respect, someone who may or may not be in the industry.
But I think it's always important to, to be able to, to verbalize them and, and have a process of structurally going through the decisions.
It's easier to sort of stew on them in your own head and, and go around in circles or spiral those, those decisions.
So I think having, having a good mentor that is a good reflection of you, or can be a good mirror on, on yourself or your decisions and your ideas or your thoughts or your plans, I think is what really, really important.
Fantastic. That's great.
And then obviously you've run the Blade business, you had enormous success there.
And then tell us a little bit about, I guess the, I guess the high point and I guess, I guess the feeling, and I guess the enthusiasm that it brought to you, to you and your team when, when you guys started achieving those results.
Yeah, it was, it was the days of following the IDC market share numbers, which was the only mark of, you know, we started to see some business turning revenue, but you don't know what the competitors are doing.
You don't know until the market share results come in.
And so every quarter you'd sit and hold your breath for a little bit and think, okay, have we gained a couple of share?
Have we gained a couple of share?
It's, it's the race, right? So it's, it's the only measure that says, and it's always four months out of date because the time that it takes to get the market share out.
But again, once, once you start to see, once you start to see the graph move, the Delta was the, it was the HP, so IBM up here and HP down here, and you start to see this turn.
And then that sort of happened was incredibly exciting.
You know, we were lucky enough to take the market share from being third in the market to, to being number one in the market.
And I know you referenced this before, but you know, oh, the world dominant market share for, for HP of any country around the world, having 77% market share, which is just insane as far as, you know, what is a three, four horse race in the Australian business with 79% market share on marginal profit, which was a great stats.
It was probably one of the most exciting periods of having started this to be 12 months down the track of, of having taken so much market share, so much dominance from, you know, we were, I think 20ish points of market share beforehand.
So not only grow the market in size, in actual size, but to take so much share was, was very rewarding.
Yes. We did celebrate.
Yeah. I can imagine. So obviously that was a very much customers buying on premise infrastructure building at their data centers.
Then this thing called the cloud came out.
So, I mean, look, obviously, you know, being part of a technology run and then, you know, you've disrupted a market.
I, the blades came out, you came in and you took a whole market share.
I mean, how, how did you guys see the cloud sort of thing come in and what was your reaction to it at the time?
You know, when you're in the business, you're still thinking, okay, boy, yeah, this cloud thing is something else.
Yeah. It'll still, it's okay. We're still, we're still leading this market, but yeah, I recall having the, one of the big deals that came in was a bunch of servers that, that we got recognition for that were being put in.
Let's say someone's data center who was providing a cloud service.
That is not any of the businesses that I was working for, but I'm not allowed to talk about under my probably still under the NDA of what it was back then.
But let's just say that it started with an eye and ended in the cloud.
So they were, they were building out that function. And I realized that that was almost half the business of, of what we were doing in country and just the extraordinary change in numbers.
You know, from the point of where, where, you know, after I was running the brave business, I took over all the server business for, for HP.
If I recall correctly, it was about 2010 was our greatest market share. The difference between the greatest market share to where the business was at when I left was another $150 million drop in, in revenue.
So it just showed clearly the market had moved to, had very much moved from buying everything on prem and now starting to consume cloud services.
So the writing was on the wall way back then. So, so you just felt like you're now scrambling and trying to, it's a commoditization of, of that infrastructure and, and the service.
And yeah, it was, you know, for me, it was, you know, it was the writing on the wall to say, either you continue to scramble and sort of eke out what you can do here or, or go part of the disruption and move into something else.
That's yeah. Amazing. I guess, I mean, do you see, do you see any similar things happening now in, I guess, in the current format, especially in the, in the space that you're working today?
Yeah, I, I, I very much do.
You know, while again, you know, while at HP, you know, I took over the networking business then and, and we thought at the time software defined networking, that was going to be the next disruptive piece.
But it was a, it was looking for a problem to solve.
I then got the opportunity to jump into VMware and network virtualization, you know, taking out what you're doing physical boxes and actually do it in software.
And again, you know, like the lightbulb moment go, Oh, wow, this is disruptive.
This is great. And, you know, I, I see this so much of, of, you know, who we are and what we do at Cloudflare, taking out all those appliances and all those single functions that are complex, frustrating infrastructures out of data centers and putting her into cloud service.
This is the next scale, all that stuff around software defined networking, they're all just different mechanisms of trying to sell more boxes.
And, and putting the onus back on, well, here's your box, and you do it, as opposed to all I want to do is for my, for mine, the analogy is, you know, I just want to plug my, I want to plug my device into a PowerPoint and switch it on and just works.
And tech, tech should be like that, but it isn't.
So rather than worry about buying the box to make it work, you know, I now consume the service that works.
And it's, it's just a stark difference.
So, you know, I think it's an incredibly exciting disruption, and a positive disruption in, in driving an outcome, as opposed to putting the onus back on, you figure out how to make it work, you figure out how to integrate it, you continue to support it, you continue to maintain it, you continue to patch it.
Oh, yeah, we'll, we'll, we'll do our best to keep giving you software to patch the phone.
No, no, no, this, you shouldn't be worrying about that. I don't care about what it takes to generate the electricity.
I just care that the electricity comes out the flood.
And for me, it's a similar sort of analogy. So do you see, I guess, a clear parallel between what happened to the, I guess, on premise infrastructure server business to what's happening now in the network space in what you're dealing with?
Yeah, most definitely. Most definitely. The last question, so the compute workload moved to the cloud, and we all understand how that works in the storage workload, all that's moved to cloud services makes sense.
Markets like the Australian market, who we have a big IT industry who built their careers following one brand.
And you know, I've built my career by putting Cisco switches in the data center behind me and putting Cisco switches all over the world.
Yeah, that's great.
But unfortunately, your workload doesn't live inside that prem anymore, right?
Your workload is more dynamic and scaling into cloud services. So why are you building old architecture?
So the last bastion of that transformational change is networking and security.
They're the two things that have been, you know, I was able to isolate, I know JDC, I love the way he talks around this, and we're in the castle, I built the boat around the castle.
However, I gotta let people in now, right?
So if I pull down the drawbridge, you know, what's the point of, you don't have the motor around the castle anymore, in order to protect your business, because all of your workloads don't live in your physical data center anymore.
And all of your customers and consumers don't come through your same network anymore.
They come through 4g, they're coming through Internet services, they're coming all around the globe, and they're mobile, they're dynamic, and they're wanting to connect how they want, as opposed to what you want.
So how do you control them using the old style architecture doesn't work.
It doesn't scale.
It is incredibly frustrating to manage and support. And it has to change. And it's the exciting part of being part of that change again.
Amazing. So Raymond, we're about to wrap up.
You thought we couldn't do an hour, but we have advice that you'd like to give someone with their career, whether they're starting out, whether they're transitioning, or whether they're sort of towards the end of the career, is there something that you could say, you know what, think of this, and this will help with your, I guess, with your wherever you're trying to head to.
The one thing I should, I should have something more, more exciting to say, but if you feel passionate, and so you always be believing yourself.
But for me, that's been an important part of who I am, is believe in, believe in my ability to, to know what I can do, but importantly, know what I can't do.
So therefore, make sure that I'm, I'm leveraging from people who can fill my weak spots, and fill my gaps.
And I think that's really important. But be passionate about what you do.
If you're passionate about what you do, you give 100% every time you turn up, every time you turn up to work.
And I've, I've been lucky enough to be in roles where I've continued to be passionate about representing what I do.
And to, to find a part, or an instinct inside me that allows me to do what I'm excited about.
So, you know, follow that part of it. And whether it's your dreams or not, it doesn't always line up to what you dream about.
But if you get excited about it, it's much easier to work when you're excited about technology, or excited about what you do.
It's much easier to learn, it's much easier to fill your weak spots as well.
Fantastic. Raymond, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much.
I've learned a lot about you today. I've known you for many years now. So we appreciate the time.
Thanks for the advice. Thanks for sharing those stories. And yeah, we look forward to hearing more stories in the future.
All right, Cloudflare TV, that's the wrap.
See you next week, 9am Wednesday. Bye-bye. Bye -bye.