Doing business with Stuart Stitt of Fujitsu New Zealand

Name: Stuart Stitt

Title: Managing Director, Fujitsu New Zealand

How long have you been in your current role?

Since September 2014 in the current engagement. I actually held the role between 2007 and 2011 before moving to Australia to take on the Fujitsu ANZ CFO role.

What business technology issue is your organisation focusing on?

Our focus is primarily on our customers and making sure that they have the technology in place to help them achieve their business outcomes.

I expect people to do their best and to treat all those they work for and with, as customers.

What are your interests away from work?

Golf, cycling and skiing.

What are you reading at the moment?

Having been travelling back and forward from Australia so frequently over the last little while. I obviously read a lot of newspapers and magazines, but I also have always have had a couple of books on the go, usually one in Australia and others in New Zealand. Now I am home I have three books I am swapping around, depending on what I feel like reading and how late it is. I am just finishing an older Jo Nesbo, Harry Hole Norwegian detective novel Nemesis, which is one of those Scandinavian genre authors made popular by the success of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. After the election, I decided I’d better read John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister by John Roughan, for multiple reasons, but as much as anything to ensure I can tell my Australian colleagues just why he is so good. They often ask. However my current favourite is How to Catch Fish and Where by Mike Rendle. Being fairly new to fishing, after a lot of cycling, I am trying to absorb every fact about knots, fish species, sinkers and equally enthralling fishing knowledge that I can……my wife finds it rather strange but my boy understands.

Next: Revisiting a sage business advice he should have listened to

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What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Overall, I think advice is very much based around your personality, if you’re a big risk taker, then the best advice you will receive is probably around assessing the facts just a little more before you give in to your impulsive tendencies. As I am an accountant/legal person by qualification, so too I am relatively conservative by nature. Accordingly, the best advice I have received is not to dwell on things too long but to move on, so if something has not happened as you expected or wanted then reassess, make a new decision and move forward. If you or people you care for are not harmed or badly injured, it’s not that bad. From a business perspective, where I did not listen to sage advice given to me was that, “If you sell the majority interest in a company, you lose the ability to control it, no matter what is promised”.

Professionally, who do you admire most?

Given NZ is currently riding an entrepreneurial IT wave I have to say that what the Vista Entertainment guys, Murray Holdaway and Brian Cadzow, have done is amazing. What was a very small company in the late 1990s, writing Windows software for movie theatres, has grown into an organisation that listed at around $200 million on the NZX this year.

From the moment they conceived the company, they planned to sell that software against multinational US and European software giants that at that time dominated the marketplace…now they do. Exporting software worldwide was a journey they never wavered from over the last 15 years despite even losing full control of the company a couple of times along the way.

I would also be unfair to my own dad if I did not say he has had a great influence on me, and like many sons I often wish I had heeded his advice earlier than I did. He too, along with his very talented lifelong friend of 80 years and business partner, created a startup business to take on an established large New Zealand monopoly company of the 1970s. It was going to crush them - 20 years later their company took it over.

From a business perspective, where I did not listen to sage advice given to me was that, ‘If you sell the majority interest in a company, you lose the ability to control it, no matter what is promised.’

How long have you been working in IT?

How long is a piece of string, it’s now embarrassing. I had a law/accounting degree from Auckland but in 1981 I thought I could start my own computer company before I took a real job. I tried selling computers by advertising and then doing home demonstrations - The Home Computer Company, selling ZX81 and Commodore 64 computers. I did quite a few demos but not many sales and had to dump my stock cheap and take a real job at Wilkinson Wilberfoss (now EY). The computers did not do much back then. I came back to IT in 1988 with Trilogy, where I was CFO for NZ, and later we bought it in a management buyout in 1992 and sold it to Infinity in 2000. In turn Infinity was also sold to Fujitsu in late 2007. Since then I have worked for Fujitsu, first as managing director NZ till late 2011 when I became CFO of Fujitsu Australia NZ based out of Sydney. Now I am back in NZ again as country Managing Director, and very pleased I am to be working here as I was commuting from Auckland to Sydney for the last three years. Believe me, that’s hard work.

If you weren't working in IT, what would you be doing?

Well I was very good at woodwork and metalwork at school, my grandfather was head of the Master Builders once. I like building things, so I could easily have been a builder or better still owner of a construction company. That would be good. I am a part owner in a project management company that my school friend owns, so that’s along those lines.

What was your first job?

My very first job was in a local 4Square store where my best friend at the time got me a job at about age 14. It ended badly when my friend then lost his job as the shop did not need us both as it turned out. I then quit too soon after as he was a friend.

A key pointer for managing tech savvy teams?

It’s the old story, I think. Business is about people, people, people……treat everyone as you would like to be treated and you can’t go far wrong. Everyone is a customer, is my view, and I treat staff and customers pretty much alike. I expect people to do their best and to treat all those they work for and with, as customers. I can’t see that tech people are any different. Generationally, people’s expectations around training, resourcing, remuneration and career paths have changed but human nature remains the same. The majority of people if listened to, valued and given a vision or direction they can understand or relate to are awesome and give back more you ever expect of them…..and in this industry a lot is expected of people, often in stressful and problematic situations.

A key pointer for keeping abreast of business and technology trends?

Look at what younger people are doing, hire them and use them. I have no chance now to keep abreast of the myriad of products and ideas flowing daily into just the IT sector, let alone the rest of business. So I look to the DNA of Fujitsu which has innovation as a core value.

President Masami Yamamoto calls for Fujitsu to constantly pursue innovation, to directly contribute to the creation of a networked society that is rewarding and secure, thus enabling in a sustainable way a prosperous future that fulfils the dreams of people throughout the world, be those dreams modest or grand. If we can bring sustainable technology growth to the world, we will achieve a great outcome, we will bring knowledge to people that they may otherwise not have had.

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Security vs. innovation: IT's trickiest balancing act