Rob Wells: UK pub-boy to Aussie IT leader

Rob Wells is the managing director for Avaya in Australia and New Zealand. But he's also well known to the local industry for his previous roles, including as managing director of SAP subsidiary, Business Objects. The executive also had a long stint at PeopleSoft culminating in a position of vice president of product sales in the Asia-Pacific region, and he was also the managing director of Sequent Computer Systems for some time.

Q&A Rob Wells is the managing director for Avaya in Australia and New Zealand. But he's also well known to the local industry for his previous roles, including as managing director of SAP subsidiary, Business Objects. The executive also had a long stint at PeopleSoft culminating in a position of vice president of product sales in the Asia-Pacific region, and he was also the managing director of Sequent Computer Systems for some time.

Rob Wells

Rob Wells, managing director of Avaya Australia and New Zealand.(Credit: Avaya)

What was your first job ever?

I started my working career at the age of 11 working in my dad's pub in the Midlands in England. My first job in the pub was working as a dishwasher, then I became a kitchen hand, and later was promoted to work in the bar. The day I graduated from the kitchen to the bar was a happy one, not only did I get to meet and talk with the customers in the pub, but I also was officially allowed to have a drink with the staff! It was a good start and taught me a lot about working with people and customer service.

My first job out of university was with Burroughs (now Unisys). I was on their sales executive graduate program, selling to large accounts in the City of London.

What do you most like about working in Australia's technology industry?

The IT industry is a very vibrant and fast moving market and I'm passionate about working in an industry that is innovative and really changes the way people do business. I also love working in Australia, it's highly competitive and very stimulating, but also a market where you can build strong long-term relationships with partners and customers.

What's your hobby?

I am a keen cyclist and ride my road bike out to West Head on Sundays with a group of other guys who shouldn't be seen in Lycra! I also enjoy having a competitive sail on Pittwater and spending time with my family, I have a lovely wife and three children of whom I am very proud.

What can Australia do better to help grow a great technology sector?

We need to encourage more school leavers to do technology-based subjects at university and I would like to see investment driving this. I also think the government can help in encouraging more local innovation to flourish through tax incentives and concrete strategies to help young Australian technology companies expand their capabilities overseas.

What/who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?

Dave Duffield, the co-founder of PeopleSoft, is a key inspiration for me. He created a wonderful culture at PeopleSoft and made it a very special place to work. I hope to be able to bring to Avaya some of my learnings from Dave. The transformation we are currently going through at Avaya is very exciting and that change is having a very positive impact on our workplace culture. The stream of innovation we are currently bringing to market means I am constantly learning, and it's truly rewarding to be doing that in my 50s!

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