After gaining sound experience as an accounts clerk on his overseas experience, it was only when back in New Zealand with a backpack and twenty dollars in his pocket that Fuji Xerox Printers Commercial/Distribution Manager Colin Hewett got his start in the technology industry.
However, once the interest was sparked, he’s never looked back.
Like many a young Kiwi, Hewett’s primary ambition after school was to travel the world. With a mate in the Air Force, that seemed like a good place to start, so he joined up into the Supply Squadron.
“There are a number of parallels between what I did then and today, though it was a little bit simpler in those days,” he relates.
The rapid learning curve of ‘coming from home at 17 to the regimented approach of the Air Force’ was a shock to the system, but it set a precedent for many future things to come.
“The travelling didn’t materialise with the Air Force, so I set off with my partner [now my wife] for the big OE in Europe,” says Hewett.
On return it was a case of, ‘what now?’ “I ended up at HP pretty much by chance. Computers were never my original direction, but I’d arrived on the scene relatively early on and the opportunities were clear to see,” he remembers.
From initially working in the warehouse and helping with basic repairs on inkjets, Hewett was offered a role at Software New Zealand Distribution.
“The opportunity with this company cemented my decision to progress into sales and marketing and, after studying at AIT, I was offered a role in Account Management,” he says.
Remembering the role mentorship played in his own career, Hewett notes that “Suzanne and Kerry Bailey were a major influence; they had a lot of trust in what I was doing.”
His career took him to Datamatic and then on to Tech Pacific (now Ingram Micro), where perhaps appropriately, he became HP product manager across the PC Group for 6 years.
Hewett then took on a new challenge as inventory manager, a multifaceted position which introduced him to managing a team of APMs.
This aspect, he recalls, brought the most satisfaction. this position held Hewett’s interest for well over three years, before moving back into sales and marketing as a senior business manager of the printer and PC group.
After 11 years with Ingram Micro, he took up his present role with Fuji Xerox.
What is it about the technology industry that’s kept Hewett at it? “There’s a consistent factor of change. You could never get bored in IT, there is always something to learn and you can’t ever rest on your laurels,” he explains.
More specifically, his role at Fuji Xerox is particularly rewarding because there is a level of autonomy which allows the local entity to operate with flexibility to meet unique market requirements.
“The ANZ region has a very strong go-to-market strategy, part of which is recognition of the need for the local business to be self-managed, rather than applying strategies more suitable for Australia,” he relates.
“With the decision-making, pricing and programmes unique to this market, we’ve been equipped to achieve significant growth.”
How significant? “We’re up over 50% on last year’s units, and that’s across retail and commercial range,” Hewett confirms.
In the printing business, those numbers are nothing short of fantastic – after all, printing is a mature, stagnant market, right? Wrong.
“Managed services is a big part of the strategy now and going forward and we have a programme designed to empower dealers to deliver that,” he says.
“It’s a complete solution which allows the reseller to assess, design, implement and manage. We’ve made it easy for resellers to deliver managed print to market and, more importantly, to provide the right solution and proven savings to the end user.”
The opportunity, says Hewett, lies in the relative maturity of approach to market. “If you walk to the cupboard in most businesses and you’ll find piles of old toner and you’ll see a wide variety of printers on the floor.”
That sight, he says, is what opportunity looks like.
Hewett believes in bringing people forward and being involved in their progress, something he personally experienced in his IMNZ days.
“Even when people leave your organisation for greater things, you should take pride. After all, the success of a manager comes from the success of your staff.”
Success is defined as achieving a balance between personal life and career; with two teenage boys and a lifestyle block on the Kaipara Harbour (‘it’s a workstyle block’, he quips) Hewett enjoys working the land, slowly renovating the family home and doing the things that a lifestyle block affords, such as horse riding, fishing, archery and clay bird shooting.