Q&A: Enex Testlab managing director, Matt Tett

What is the 30-second elevator pitch on the company?
Matt Tett: Enex was founded 20 years ago as part of RMIT University, so it is a completely independent organisation. We focus on testing and test any product – if it can be broken, we will break it and write a report about it. That covers everything through eight separate business divisions: Hardware testing for ICT; software testing for ICT; systems testing; information systems and security testing; gaming and wagering systems; usability and accessibility testing for hardware and software; media and communications; and physical media. You name it we test it.

What has been the best testing you have done?
The best has been for the Federal Government in Australia. We have done broadband testing for five years for rural and regional Australia. We feel we have contributed a lot to that across all the programs and the end users which have benefited from it because we are maintaining the compliance with the service providers with the undertakings they gave in receiving funding for the infrastructure. It has been five years now and counting and it is a feel good one for us. We are really proud of being involved in it.

What has been the most challenging?
They come in waves but I guess it is when we have to moderate between multiple parties on projects. I can’t think of any specific examples but there are a number where we might have a systems integrator, a manufacturer or vendor and the client as a stakeholder and maybe a third party developer doing integration. Obviously when one of the links in the chain breaks for whatever reason, fingers start getting pointed and the legal guys start trolling around. Generally we are brought in to mediate and work with the parties to identify where the issues are through testing. We take it one step further to work with the parties to resolve what the issues are. At the end of the day all the parties want a successful outcome.

Where do you see the company heading over the next five years?
We have a number of directions we are focused on. We are building each of those eight verticals individually now. We are also expanding globally – we have opened offices in China and the UK to cover those markets. The US will come in probably 12 to 18 months and we will be entering their market with gaming and wagering testing but then offering our services. Quite a large amount of our export revenue comes from the US. We work with Intel, AMD, Trend Micro, CA, Microsoft and those sorts of guys. The next couple of years are focused on building those verticals and then the overseas operations.

In terms of challenges for the whole company, what is the biggest and how are you seeking to address it?
The biggest challenge for any company is cash flow. Every year we are growing strongly and we continue to grow so I think, while I wouldn’t say we are recession proof, we are in a position and a growth phase that the global financial crisis effect was negligible. Maybe if we were a little bit larger we would have seen a fall back from some of our clients. Obviously projects were postponed but they weren’t cancelled which was good for us. I think for every business it is managing and balancing cash flow. Plus our product is our people so human resources is critical.

What is the biggest opportunity for your industry?
Testing as an industry is very specialised and niche but we work across about ninety odd different industries so the biggest opportunity would have to be the convergence of technology. We are working across multiple platforms and because we have our separate business divisions a lot of our competitors are stuck in their niche.

Tell us about yourself, how did you get to where you are today?
A lot of hard work! I think my background is in network and security. I have been a manger since I started working – I started work when I was 15 and didn’t go to university. I’ve always had to manage people and resources in some difficult companies. I’ve worked in some Chinese companies and Russian companies and they have very different business models and very different strategies for operating their businesses, Because I have been at the management level I have had to fight almost constantly to operate in those businesses, especially as a foreigner. So you learn a lot of techniques and I think I have been able to translate that well with the Lab and the services we provide. I joined RMIT about 7 or 8 years ago now and then in 2005 we went through the transition from RMIT to Enex.

What are the skills you like to promote and respect most within the company?
Probably integrity and transparency. As we are an independent lab we have to make sure the staff have strong ethics and abide by the codes of practice we follow. Transparency is a key thing – I don’t want our staff to hide mistakes or skew things in the way they think it should be skewed. It should be transparent; it should be open like all our methodologies are. Everything we do in the company is open and all our methodologies are published in our reports, whether they are a public report or a private one. People can read them, understand them and that is what I want to see. I don’t want to see any proprietariness, I don’t want to see any keeping of information to themselves – I want them to be open. So that is what we look for in our staff above everything else.

Do you have a business idol yourself?
I have a number of business idols but I don’t know if I want to emulate them or not. Some of them have been successful, some haven’t. I think you can take a little bit from everyone; at least that has been my experience. There is no one perfect person that can do everything. I think you take a little bit from everyone and add your own thoughts into the mix. A little bit of luck and timing doesn’t hurt either.