Most cyclists will readily tell you that it is amazing where your bike can take you – and that’s probably more true than most for Jon McGettigan, country manager at Fortinet.
After leaving university, the keen road racer was working in a cycle shop; account managers from the IT industry would come in, and through chatting with them, his interest was piqued.
“Those account managers had the coolest bikes,” laughs McGettigan; “I also met my wife in the bike shop and together we hatched a plan to get me into the technology business.”
It’s a pretty remarkable bit of prescience and a solid demonstration of one of his closely held principles: “Make a plan and stick to it; but also be prepared to update your plan to meet new circumstances,” McGettigan confirms.
He targeted IBM as the ideal place to start, before taking roles with Konica Minolta and Telstra, back to IBM, and then on to his present role in Fortinet.
Time spent with IBM, McGettigan relates, was hugely beneficial. “That was an opportunity to learn about the structure and process which is necessary in a big business. You have to be a self-starter, or you just won’t survive.”
It’s also provided some context; Big Blue is somewhat renowned for its rigid approach, something that McGettigan says isn’t to be found at Fortinet. “We’re still a global organisation, but there aren’t those internal pressures,” he observes.
While the IT industry is a great place to earn a decent living (and afford the insanely expensive equipment that a road racing cyclist requires), it is the constant innovation that catches McGettigan’s attention.
“That innovation is put to work by enabling so many different aspects of our daily life, whether in the office or at home. At Fortinet, for example, we’ve gone from security to solving BYOD issues and on to Presence analytics with our technology which works with smartphones,” he explains.
Progress for the company is solid; McGettigan says Fortinet has lead from the get go as a pioneer in consolidated security, but perhaps more importantly, “Customers understand who we are now and what it is that we do.”
And then there is the people one encounters in the industry. “Having worked with so many people over the years, I’ve discovered that there is always something you can learn from every individual and apply within your own life.
"You find sources of inspiration daily; I like to focus on working with people who bring strengths that I don’t have and to learn from them to become a well rounded person.”
Hardly surprising then, that his definition of success comes down to a question of ‘are you happy with the people you are working with’; reputation is valuable, too.
“In New Zealand, your reputation is important and you have to stand by that with good ethics, striving to be an example and having respect for all who you deal with,” McGettigan says.
He’s still pedalling that racing bike, although admitting that two young children have largely put a stop to any competitive urges; “They’re 5 and 7 now, so with them both at school I am able to get out more often early in the morning…although it does get harder as the weather gets colder!”