Could you start by telling us about Red Rock Consulting and what makes you different?
Red Rock Consulting is the largest independent Oracle consulting and support organisation in Australia and New Zealand. We provide a complete service continuum of Oracle, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and SQL Server including: sales, planning, design, implementation, project management and support. Our offices are based across Australia and New Zealand and our support centre services over 100 clients located in five countries. Red Rock has over 400 expert consultants and a pool of specialists for niche requirements.
Red Rock primary differentiator is that we offer clients’ a focused and comprehensive Oracle, PeopleSoft, JE Edwards and MS SQL Server Capability from a single, independent Australian ICT services and solutions company. Also, whilst competing with Tier One companies we still have the agility and flexibility to meet clients’ changing business and technology requirements in short timeframes.
Where do you see the company heading over the next five years?
I see Red Rock remaining the established market leader with over 800 consultants and a $250M+ turnover. Whilst this is aggressive growth, it can be achieved I believe through the continued acquisition of Australian and New Zealand ICT companies with relevant Oracle skills or related services. I also see organic growth as vital and core to this is strengthening our ability to combine our different practices IP, capability and experience to deliver client centric services and solutions. To maintain our market leading position, we can’t rest on our laurels and have to lead in service delivery, relevant capability and innovation.
Whilst on this journey over the next five years, its very important to me that we maintain our core values and culture of innovation, flexibility, agility, client responsiveness, independence, staff enablement, and focus as we grow and achieve our objectives.
What’s the biggest challenge for the company at the moment? How do you seek to address that?
Being Oracle’s chosen strategic partner for Australia and New Zealand I think we face quite a unique challenge. Aligning your strategy to Oracle, an organisation with probably the most aggressive acquisition strategy in business today, forces you to continually evaluate your future service offerings and of course keep an eye out for potential acquisitions of our own. Whilst wanting to have a good coverage of the Oracle product suite we do need to recognise where the real demand is, so as not to dilute or company capabilities or focus.
Over the years [Oracle CEO] Larry Ellison has caused many business analysts to scratch their heads, pondering his next move and trust me I am no different! The only way Red Rock can keep itself truly aligned to Oracle, is to work more closely with them at all levels of the business and important to this will be involving them in our own key strategic decision making activities.
What’s the biggest opportunity for the IT industry at the moment?
I actually think there are two big opportunities currently in the IT industry at the moment. These opportunities are Business Intelligence and consolidation / virtualisation programmes. The driver for business intelligence projects is not surprising, organisations need to know exactly what is happening and the global financial crisis has compounded this fact. Also, infrastructure consolidation and virtualisation is an area where customers can see immediate savings, so I envisage more and more organisations running projects to simplify both their systems and business processes.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today?
Well whilst at University in Cape Town, I founded my own private textiles company called Ruby Manufacturing. This is where I ‘cut my teeth’ so to speak, entering a market place where dishonesty was everywhere and at the age of eighteen when I first started, I was armed with just an energetic and positive attitude. To survive I had to get street smart pretty fast and with the help of some slightly bemused suppliers, I managed to grow the company into a very profitable business over the next 4 years.
After migrating to Australia I joined Andersen Consulting where I focused on delivering business strategy, process design and large technology implementation projects. I also worked for AT Kearney where I managed a number of high-profile projects in the strategy and technology areas. I joined the three founding Directors of Red Rock in 1999 and have since focused on building the company to be Australia and New Zealand’s respected leader in the Oracle market place.
Who’s your hero?
I would have to say my hero is my Dad. My Dad taught me about ethics and the importance of balance in life. He also taught me to respect people and to try and be the best person I can be. I can ramble on for ever about what a good person he is, but most importantly he loved me and supported me and I wouldn’t be the person I am without my Dad (not simply because he helped make me …).
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
I guess the best advice was “always try to employ people who are better than you”. Although pretty intuitive, most people don’t do that.
What are the skills that you promote and most respect at work?
Red Rock has a unique culture of which I am very proud. I am lucky enough to work alongside passionate people who have a positive and can-do attitude. It is important to me that my staff enjoy working for Red Rock, whilst we all work very hard we do like to have fun at the same time. I personally would feel suffocated working in an environment bogged down by beaurocracy and politics.
I really do respect people who think outside the box and don’t just go with the most obvious solution to a problem. Driving innovation is vital to our business so it’s great to work with people who are innovative when working alongside clients, providing genuine thought leadership and as a result add real value when assisting them overcome business problems.
I also think loyalty is something over looked too often in business today. Red Rock is just over ten years old and yet when I look around the office I see core team members who have been with the company now for 8 -10 years. They have also put in the long hours and effort to help grow the company from just a few people to the company it is today. I think the passion for their work and loyalty sets a great example to the newer employees coming on board and helps maintain the work culture we have together created.
What has been your greatest challenge to date as far as your career is concerned?
I joined Red Rock in 1999 as an equal owner to the three founding directors. The company was only a year old but had great potential. In 2000 we had a great year winning two large deals which allowed us to double the size of the company to almost 50 staff. However, when the dotcom bust happened we did have a trying six months. Although we were un-leveraged and had no debts, we did have to batten down the hatches and work out how we were going to hold the company together and go forward. Although we had ten consultants on the bench we did not retrench any one, instead the four of us continually met to find the right strategy to see us through the down turn. We all had a lot to lose and this period cemented a trust and respect between us that saw the four of us come out the other side and with more determination, focus and commitment than ever before.
Something I have learned as I personally grow as a CEO, is that you can’t do everything yourself nor should you try to. What you can do though is surround yourself with the right team, who you trust and then enable them to carry out their jobs successfully giving them the tools they need, support, guidance and encouragement.
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