“I really love technology, I always have. And I think what really resonates with me is looking at how customers are using technology and then figuring out how to do something cool to release that value. I love working with them to explore how we can do something with technology to change their business.”

Russell Page-Wood studied journalism but his career quickly took a different path when he joined Datacom in a service desk role after university.

“I’d just returned from a year abroad. The job was something to do while I was trying to figure out what to do with my life,” says Russell, who is now Datacom’s General Manager Cloud Platforms and Productivity.

Straight away he gelled with the company’s culture and, in part because he had friends in the organisation, Datacom quickly became a big part of his post-uni life.

Describing it as an era of “sink or swim” upskilling, Russell recognised there were massive opportunities to grow with Datacom if he was willing to reach out and grab them.

“I moved very quickly from the service desk into project coordination and project management.”

Even though he admits he was ‘pretty green’ at the time, he continued to cut his teeth on bigger projects with Foodstuffs North Island, and a Waikato District Health Board project with Datacom’s Hamilton team.

With each successful project, Russell says he earned more trust from Datacom’s leadership and was given the go ahead to take on new opportunities.

Now he has been with Datacom for nearly 16 years in eight different roles, with a two-year break in the middle spent working in the UK.

Cloud calling

Russell has been involved in some significant projects, many the first of their kind. One that stands out was the migration of Zespri’s systems to Azure.

“I was the project manager and it was globally the first migration of its type.”

This experience fuelled his interest in hyper-scale cloud platforms long before they were widely considered as an option by the majority of businesses in New Zealand.

“I was saying cloud is going to be a growth area for our business and we needed to focus on it.”

Russell had the backing of Datacom’s leadership team and he was supported to bring together a team to specifically focus on public cloud.

For the past few years, the focus has been unlocking the opportunities for New Zealand businesses around hyperscale cloud computing, including cost efficiencies, robust infrastructure and the ability to rapidly scale.

“We are doing a lot in that space, which is super exciting and it’s an area that is all about growth.”

All this growth means Datacom is going to need more hands on deck.

We’re on the lookout for great new people. The team is super excited and energised because there's a lot of focus on us driving the business forward and helping our customers.”

To fuel this growth, Datacom is also investing time and resources in internships and introducing more people to the opportunities a career in tech can offer.

“Recently I went and talked to a bunch of students about Datacom. It was a bit of a sales pitch, but you know I found it so easy because I was literally living proof of why Datacom could be great for them.”

Russell Page-Wood having a discussion with clients at Datacom's Auckland office

Developing internal talent

While the pandemic has presented some challenges for finding and onboarding new talent, it has also seen Datacom tap into one of its strengths: developing internal talent.

“We had to find some Azure experts during the Covid-19 restrictions but people couldn’t come into New Zealand to work. So we started investing in developing our own.”

“We still go out and hire really good people too, but we’re really committed to offering our employees the opportunity to reach a high level if they want it.”

For anyone considering a role with Datacom, Russell says one of the biggest draw cards is the opportunity to be part of such highly skilled — and highly accredited — teams.

One of the cloud accreditations Datacom holds is as a ‘Microsoft Azure expert managed service provider’ — making them one of less than 100 companies that hold that global accreditation.

“Our customers can have absolute confidence that we know what we're doing when it comes to Azure.”

While Russell sees part of his role as being to demystify the noise around cloud for his customers, and find the solution that best fits their needs — whether or not that is a cloud-based solution.

“It’s funny because everybody knows what cloud is, but nobody really knows what cloud is. We simply help customers understand what's tangible and achievable. And our Cloud Adoption Framework helps them move in the right direction on that journey.”

“We want to help businesses tap into the best of what cloud technologies have to offer and achieve more with less friction.”

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