Trey Zagante had held leadership roles at major local IT firms in Australia, but the AGSM Executive MBA brought him the opportunity to do something exceptionally challenging: he was headhunted to break the first Chinese IT firm in the Australian market.
Trey was headhunted by Chinese IT consulting and outsourcing company VanceInfo Technologies, to lead all aspects of strategy, business development and marketing in Australia and New Zealand.
VanceInfo Technologies’ services include software developing and testing, IT consulting, and enterprise solutions services. They only entered Australia in late 2010, coiniding with Trey completing the AGSM Executive MBA.
We talked to Trey, 32, to get his insights on the IT business in Australia and of course his EMBA. The next big things according to Trey include cloud technology, the increasing importance of mobile services and the use of Blue Ocean Strategy, a strategy approach designed by INSEAD professors to annihilate your competition.
Did you expect to work for a technology firm after your MBA?
My background is in financial services. I graduated with a Bachelors in Business but I took several diplomas in Finance to learn things like compliance in financial services, finance, and investing. I spent three years as a Senior Finance Consultant with the now defunct HBOS, Australia but I have also worked in both large and boutique IT companies.
VanceInfo Technologies only entered the Australian market in late 2010 and this coincided with the end of my AGSM MBA. I was approached and given the opportunity to work with them and I was very happy to take on the role.
Do you know who recommended you to the company?
It was through a network built from both industry and business school contacts that pointed them in my direction. It’s always great to be headhunted but what I like most about my job is that I get a chance to drive the growth of the company. I’m involved with job creation and since I started, the company has grown from a handful of staff to about 65 people in Australia. Being able to bring new people on board who are aligned with the company’s goals is very satisfying both on a business and personal level.
What has been the most challenging thing about your new role?
It’s safe to say that I am challenged every day. Bringing in a new market entrant into Australia is not an easy task. VanceInfo Tech is the first and only China-based IT consulting and outsourcing company in Australia so there is a huge opportunity for us to be at the forefront of this wave.
Outsourcing firms have been in Australia, there are many Indian ones but to take a China-based one is to come at things from a new angle. We were met with some resistance because we had zero brand recognition locally when the company launched in Australia even though its a global company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Launching a new firm allows you to have a bird's eye view of the tech industry, can you share some of the trends you’ve spotted in the Australian IT world?
The three main trends are a move towards cloud computing, mobility, and big data. Clients are using cloud computing softwares to support business processes because they recognize continued availability as vital.
Continuing business processes on a mobile device is something that gives a workforce more flexibility because they can remain productive without having to access a desktop. Additionally, it means that communication between employees and clients is smoother since all parties involved are connected.
Finally, we all know that having the right data is crucial to making the right decisions. These are all factors that combine with an increasingly globalized workforce to paint a picture of IT business and we’re aligning our services with these trends.
You mention Blue Ocean Strategy on your LinkedIn profile, how often do you apply this concept in your current role?
I use a lot of MBA concepts in my current role. This first year has been about testing the market and getting feedback. At the end of it, I developed a strategy for the next 18 to 24 months, looking at where there are opportunities to compete. I love the strategy canvas of the “blue ocean” and I’ve used it all too often. I’m in my third round of reading the book. I’m even planning on going to INSEAD to take a course on that later this year. I’m tentatively booked in for October and I’m looking forward to deep diving in the blue ocean.
Are there other ways that the MBA has impacted on your career?
Absolutely. The contact network I have now is my number one asset. The AGSM MBA is the only national MBA in Australia so it has a strong alumni network in Sydney, Melbourne and even in Hong Kong. Being part of that network was a key decision maker for me when I considered MBA programmes.
I’ve met some great people who I got work from. I got my job from it and I have employed people out of it. The company recently hired one of my classmates. Just being part of the AGSM ecosystem has been incredibly beneficial and being able to find alumni across the Asia-Pacific region is definitely a strong advantage. Learningwise, I got to take classes with brilliant people in both Sydney and Melbourne.
Read more about students, alumni and programs at the Australian Graduate School of Management here