When Richard Collett joined Datacom’s newly formed regional office in Nelson in 2011 he was one of a team of two — and the ‘office’ was a kitchen table.

Eleven years later Richard is still based in Nelson but he’s now Datacom’s Infrastructure Team Lead and part of a local team of 38 who are settling into their new office on Trafalgar Street.

Reflecting on what he is most proud of, in more than a decade of work in the region, Richard says it is the longstanding relationships the team has built with local customers and the projects they have worked on to help these organisations grow and achieve their goals.

“We’ve worked on some really meaningful projects that have made a difference for our customers and for the local Nelson community. Some of our local customers have been with us from the start and we’ve grown alongside them,” says Richard.

Making a difference for the Nelson community

Two of the customers that have worked with Datacom since day one are timber specialists Goldpine and New Zealand King Salmon.

Aside from developing tech solutions to support the growth of local organisations, the Nelson team has also worked on a range of smart data and analytics projects designed to help their customers make better use of their data and achieve more sustainable business models for the future.

One project with Cawthron, New Zealand's largest independent research institute, has changed the way its scientists and researchers are able to access and share their data. The project with Datacom’s Nelson team means Cawthron is able to access data in real time, carry out far more rapid analysis and extract valuable insights from their research, and — critically — manage the exponential growth in their data while keeping it secure and ensuring they have back-ups.

The local team has also worked on several projects with Nelson City Council including one to enable smarter use of its data to make informed, data-driven decisions on behalf of the nearly 55,000 residents it serves.

Another recent project with the Nelson City Council is making it easier for the region’s eight local iwi to engage and consult with council staff over new projects, in a more simple and transparent way.

One of the original Datacom team members in Nelson has gone on to become a customer too — Matthew Dodd launched the Nelson office and is now GM of technology for Sealord. Datacom has helped Sealord apply advanced analytics to decades of fisheries data to more accurately predict where to find its quota fish, to reduce bycatch of non-quota species, and develop more sustainable commercial fishing practices for the future.

Other customers in the region include Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, WineWorks, Marlborough District Council and Marlborough Lines.

The Nelson team also has strong connections to the community including as a local supporter and sponsor of the Nelson Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards, the founding organisers of HackNelson, and as part of the industry advisory group for NMIT’s Bachelor of IT programme and a member of the stakeholder advisory group helping shape the future direction of the tertiary provider.

One of the senior leaders in the team — Grant Newport, Business Manager Application Services — joined in January 2021 but is a Nelson local who has spent his career building connections to the community including a recent role at NMIT and an early role at the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board.

“For me, the [Datacom] team’s continued engagement with NMIT and our role in bringing opportunities to the young people of Nelson is something that makes me incredibly proud. I was Chair of the NMIT Industry Advisory Committee for the Bachelor of IT for close to a decade, and I’m still on the committee, and that’s allowed me to get to know a lot of industry players in Nelson who we work with to showcase the diversity of the IT sector and to ensure students understand the breadth of opportunities that exist for them to forge a successful IT career in Nelson”.

A privilege to work alongside local organisations

The new Nelson office replaces two smaller offices in different locations and has been designed to allow the whole team to come together, and to provide a base for collaboration with Datacom’s local customers and partners.

Datacom's Nelson office with the New Zealand values displayed at the front desk.

“The new office is really light and airy, it’s a beautiful space to work in. Our values are displayed in te reo Māori at the entrance to the office and the values artwork is a great introduction to our team space.”

Founded in Christchurch nearly 60 years ago, Datacom has grown to become Australasia’s largest homegrown tech company — with more than 6000 staff — but the company’s Head of South Island, Tracy McElroy, says it is still deeply committed to the regions.

“We know just how critical Nelson’s and the wider South Island’s contribution is to New Zealand’s success; together they contribute nearly a quarter of the country’s GDP and our focus is on enabling that,” says Tracy.

“It really is a privilege for our experts in Nelson and for Datacom’s wider South Island team to work alongside local organisations and provide the tech they need to support their growth and business goals.

“Our customers span every sector from farming to manufacturing, large scale construction to infrastructure, through to councils, health providers, retailers and wholesalers and our teams work every day to develop, operate and protect technology and data, while also seeking to understand what’s coming next to help our customers and communities embrace and prepare for the possibilities ahead.”

Datacom’s collaboration with local schools and NMIT — through advisory panels, presentations on what a career in tech has to offer, and placements and opportunities for graduates — is something Tracy is especially passionate about supporting.

“It is really exciting to play a role in inspiring rangatahi and, in particular, young women into technology careers — which feels like closing the circle from my days as a boarder at Nelson Girls College!”

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