Andrew Moss of Atlas Gentech talks distribution and Huawei solutions deal
From law to security to Huawei Enterprise – Andrew Moss has traversed an interesting path to his current position. He talks to Heather Wright about his short career and how Atlas Gentech will succeed with Huawei.
Andrew Moss started 2014 knowing little about technology.
Then, in March, he joined Atlas Gentech in a newly created role of general manager of services. Six months and one steep learning curve later, Moss is a convert, and has been heavily involved in helping bed in the distributor's latest agency – and its first real play in the pure technology arena – Huawei Enterprise.
Moss – yes, he is the son of Atlas Gentech co-founder Steve Moss – spent the last nine years in Australia completing a law and business degree, then working in commercial litigation.
“I never intended to follow the private practice path, but the job market was hard so I joined a medium sized law practice and got fully qualitified,” he says, adding quickly: “I really disliked it. I found it really boring.”
After toughing it out for a couple of years he opted for a career change, joining Melbourne-based CSD, one of Australia's largest security distributors.
“I was pretty green. I had no experience in security or distribution but they gave me the opportunity.”
It would be a baptism of fire. CSD had planned that Moss would ultimately take over some of the operations work from the chief operating officer. Instead, in Moss' first week with the company, the COO left and Moss found himself national operations manager of a company with eight offices, around 70 staff and a sizeable turnover.
“I had no experience and I was dumped in the deep end. I had to learn very quickly,” he says, simply.
Moss was just 24 years old and would stay at CSD for three years, before making the move back to New Zealand and joining Atlas Gentech, managing services for the distributor.
A Huawei enterprise
Early this year Atlas Gentech picked up the exclusive New Zealand distribution of Huawei's enterprise range, encompassing POL/GPON, wireless LAN, routers, switches and hybrid power.
Moss notes that Atlas Gentech is not a traditional pure IT distributor, instead having a background in security, before expanding into data and communications.
“We haven't traditionally been in the IT space, so it means a whole new business model around services and support.”
For Atlas Gentech, Moss says Huawei means the distributor can now provide a total solution, covering phone systems, security and video conferencing components through to the network equipment it runs on.
He says Huawei's end-to-end portfolio allows the distributor to offer a single brand with a one-stop-shop support system.
The two companies have been working closely to bring the enterprise range to market here and to ensure its success, Moss says. Resellers and customers have been sent to China to visit Huawei, and more than 20 resellers have completed Huawei certified training.
Setting up the service and support behind the brand locally has, he says, been a 'huge job' and something Moss says is 'absolutely critical' to the brand's success in New Zealand.
“We have to give resellers confidence in Huawei, so it's been a very important part [of bringing Huawei Enterprise to market].
“If you haven't got service and support to back it up, people don't want to know you.”
Moss says the company is ramping up the Huawei service certification programme, enabling resellers to go out and sell theirown branded services around the Huawei offerings.
“It's really good for resellers' business and enables them to make more services revenue and build better relationships withtheir customers.
“But we've also developed full support services ourselves, for resellers who don't want to sell their own support and that will be launching in November,” he adds.
“It's never easy bringing a new brand to market, but I think we are going to pull it off,” Moss says.
The distributor has a team of technical engineers helping with pre-sales and solution design and working hand in hand with Huawei's server and storage specialists on solutions design and technical sales.
On the services side, Moss says he's keen to drive a customer focused culture.
“People in technology often lose focus of what they are ultimately there to do: to help the customer solve a problem. I'm about driving that. I want resllers to see us as providing the highest level of service and support in the country.
The company has a team of 12 engineers.
“A big part of me coming in was to try to improve the support services we provide to our customers across the data, communications and security divisions. We wanted to tidy up and improve the level of service and responsiveness to customers.”
Moss says he grew up with a passion for business, having seen his parents working in the business and seeing their relationshipswith vendors and customers.
“They were more than just business relationships. They were friendships.
“I always wanted to be in business because of what I saw from them.”
While he did a business management degree, he says in hindsight it was all theory and 'nothing of any real substance'.
“But I was dropped in the deep end at CSD and had to learn very fast, on the job.”
He says he's not interested in micromanaging, instead wanting to set the vision and expectations and enable his team to 'go away and deliver it'.
“And you have to show compassion,” he says of his leadership style.
“If everyone enjoys coming to work it creates a good environment to do special things.”
His time playing premier rugby for Gold Coast, and other team sports, have taught him teamwork, 'and that translates to how I manage people'.
“I want to continue to develop my leadership skills. I enjoy learning and trying to improve in everything I do.
“Part of the reason I came back to New Zealand was because it was an opportunity to work with three directors – Steve Moss, Steve Varney and Alan Willett – who are pretty good mentors for me.
“They have so much energy and business savvyness, I hope it can't help but rub off on me!”