Started working with NEXTGEN: 2015
Current role: Business Manager, Data Management & Infrastructure portfolio
James Walters believes in the ability for technology to translate to achieving real business outcomes. He’s committed to the success of the channel community and embraces the opportunity to foster growth. And he wants to use NEXTGEN as a platform to attract new talent into the IT industry for the long term. But the industry almost lost him to the United States...
James Walters journey in the IT industry began at Kaz Computing with Peter Kazacos. He worked through various marketing and financial roles in Kazakos’ companies, including as an investment analyst for Kaz Capital, an early stage venture capital fund that invested in startup IT companies. This wasn’t his ideal career path, and opened the door to NEXTGEN.
Q. How did you come to join NEXTGEN?
Working in Kaz Capital, it wasn't quite what I wanted to do. I wanted to get back into the IT industry so I approached John to get him to introduce me to some of the US-based IT vendors because I had an interest to go and work in the US. But I didn’t quite make it!
Q. Why did you want to join the team?
The thing that interested me the most when I was working at Kaz Capital was working with smaller startup companies and helping them on their growth journey. This opportunity was also on offer at NEXTGEN. Part of my role has involved taking all the new and emerging vendors to market and helping them grow. One example is Nimble storage, we started from $0 in Australia with them to at the end of three years we’d helped them to close multi-million dollars in revenue.
Q. And can you tell me a bit about your role, what are the main functions?
There are two aspects to my current role. The first one is the business manager for our data management and infrastructure portfolio. I look after the database infrastructure business here at NEXTGEN which includes seven different vendors that we take to market. The next aspect is onboarding and growing new vendors into the market. So basically any new vendors that come on board with NEXTGEN I do the onboarding process which is generally about a three to six-month process. I also helped set up one of our services businesses called Orbus Capital, which is a payment solutions and subscriptions billing company, majority owned by the NEXTGEN Group. I set that up due to my finance background and the idea there is that we help vendors and partners with their commercial transactions in providing subscription payment solutions for their customers.
Q. It’s your responsibility to foster and maintain relationships with your vendors, what do they need from NEXTGEN? What value does NEXTGEN bring to them?
The first would be around marketing services and Bang is a strong part of that for us now. But from my perspective it’s managing the marketing development fund for that vendor, understanding the strategy of going to market and translating that into how we can help them. If they’re not a household name in the IT industry, how do we get awareness and drive their story or value proposition into the channel community? And how do we translate their go-to-market strategy and do marketing on behalf of partners to create demand generation at a customer level?
Q. What do you find most engaging about the work that you do?
When I was at uni I studied business and computer science. The reason I did both was because I wanted to be able to translate technology into a business outcome. It wasn’t so much about the technology and the technical aspect of that, it was more about how can we use tech to drive business outcomes – that’s what I enjoy.
I like seeing the outcomes that the impact of technology has on those businesses. As well as the sales aspect of engaging with partners and vendors to be able to make a sale and deliver a solution. Compared to a larger distributor, NEXTGEN is smaller in size so you sit across all those functions. I like that you’re ultimately responsible for the deal being closed, so at the end of the day so you can say that you directly influenced the deal, rather than just having a small part to play.
Q. What’s getting you excited about NEXTGEN at the moment?
We’ve just added two new vendors Rubrik and MapR. The interesting thing about MapR is we are the first distributor globally. It’s a new route to market for them and they see the value in NEXTGEN with their sales and go-to-market and they are a data platform that interconnects enterprise applications to be able to provide big data and analytics. They’re quite unique in that space and moving into the big data world is exciting.
Our view is Rubrik is one of the fastest product to revenue growth companies in recent IT history. They are a visionary and a leader in data centre backup and recovery solutions and they’re a hyper-converged solution – so they call the product a “brik”, that’s where the Rubrik comes from, and its everything in one package so you get the software and the hardware to be able to deliver a full solution and it’s easy to put in.
Q. You recently were awarded the ARN Emerging Leaders award for the Distributor category, what does that mean to you?
The reason I participate is because I think it’s really difficult in the IT industry to both attract and maintain good talent. It’s a really good program and platform that ARN’s running to acknowledge the next or up and coming wave of IT and tech professionals. It’s important to support them via a mentoring program. It’s what’s needed in the industry because we don’t want people shying away from it. To me it was good to win the award – not only for the recognition of NEXTGEN in the market and the opportunity that gives me to be nominated – but also recognition of all the effort myself and NEXTGEN have been making. I suppose it means we’re really doing something right.
Q.Who do you find most inspiring from a career or personal perspective, and why?
I’m going to say, John Walters – because I’ve grown up with John being my father but it wasn’t until I started working with him that I respected him as a leader and a business person. He puts in a lot of hard work to get NEXTGEN to where it is. I respect his integrity, his fairness and the opportunity he provides to anyone that works for NEXTGEN. He’s inspiring and I hope in the future I could run my own successful businesses as well as he has.
Q. Can you sum up what NEXTGEN does in one sentence?
We would be a next generation born-in-the-cloud distributor, who acts as a facilitator and aggregator taking enterprise software solutions to market.