Growing the contact centre business in New Zealand
Avaya's country manager talks about his career in telco and his focus on contact centre and video
By Vera Alves, Auckland | Friday, October 26 2012
Rob Spray took on the role of Avaya’s New Zealand country manager earlier this year, and has since been busy building up the unified communications vendor’s business in the country.
His focus for the next few months, he says, will be on growing the contact centre side of things.
Spray also intends to place a strong focus on video. “Our acquisition of Radvision is a game changer and this technology already heavily used in New Zealand by the Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (REANNZ) is unique,” says the country manager.
Avaya announced the acquisition of Radvision in June. At the time, Spray said that in spite of not having a physical office in New Zealand, Radvision already had a strong presence in the local market, with about 2000 clients through the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network.
“There are 5000 video calls a month in New Zealand made through that,” he said, adding that Avaya would now be tapping into the high education market and “tying everything together to give them immediate benefits”.
Spray’s work with Avaya is part of the natural progression of his career in the telco sector. An industry veteran, his past roles include CEO of the Telecommunications Industry Group and managing director of Nortel New Zealand. Prior to joining Avaya this year, Spray was national technical operations manager at New Zealand telco and value added reseller Zintel Cogent.
This is a long way away from the career as park ranger that he dreamed of as a kid. Spray’s father was managing director of Knitting Mill and technical director on their board. His son always secretly wished he could match or surpass his achievements and so the park ranger career was set to the side. Instead, Spray chose the world of IT and became, firstly, a computer engineer, before moving onto communications engineering, sales support, sales management and business management.
He remains passionate about the industry that he says keeps “delivering value for more and more people” and keeps challenging him to learn more and do better. “[It is} driving me to keep learning and changing what I thought was possible,” he says.
These days, Spray spends a lot of his time trying to understand what Avaya customers’ key business challenges are and then line up Avaya and its channel partners to solve those challenges. “In addition, I spend a lot of my time evangelising, with channels and with customers - I see my key role as brand champion,” he adds.
According to the country manager, business in New Zealand is, in general, still “pretty flat”. “Most business is characterised by caution - not a bad rule when the world is still recovering from very poor use of credit/debt.” Spray believes persistency and honesty are key to succeed in the industry and advises newcomers to “be honest, humble and love what you do”.
Despite the tough economic times, the country manager is confident about what the future holds for the company. The company has also recently appointed Tim Gentry to the role of ANZ managing director and is now focused on growth through its resellers (such as Gen-i, Ricoh and Connect NZ) and mid-tier customers, government and healthcare.
Where do you live now and where did you grow up and have lived before?
Devonport. It's a great place to bring up a family. I’m originally from Masterton and lived in Wellington, the UK, Germany spent time in Beijing/Singapore and Tokyo
Are you married? Kids?
Married to Karen. We celebrated 15 years in August, and we have two great kids: Imogen, 15, and Jack, 13.
What are you currently reading?
Two books (almost always got two or three on the go): Moby Dick (on new Kindle touch) and Deng Xia Ping and the Transformation of China.
Who is your mentor? Or someone you admire professionally?
My mentor was a great friend, Leigh Davis, who sadly passed away recently.
Do you have any favourite sports?
Lots, I am keen on multisport and adventure racing, competed in 3 coast to coast and numerous multisport events, but also watch most sports time permitting - Rugby, League, Track, etc.
What's your favourite gadget?
Currently my iPhone, though I still think the Kinect is pretty cool.
And your favourite website?
Google. I love the way they are brave enough to mess with their logo. It breaks the mold.
What's your drink of choice?
Beer, although I’m very partial to the Macallum.
What do you think has been the single most important advance in technology?
Mobile – although, I consistently get stunned by progression in Medical field/NanTech/Bio Tech.