Meet Michael, GCOMM’s National Network Manager. He has been working with the company since 1999 and is now responsible for the management and operation of GCOMM’s Australia wide network.
What is your IT background?
Since I was young, I have been interested in computers. After finishing high school, I was concreting for 3 years and that wasn’t really mentally stimulating for me. I applied for University and got into a Bachelor of Computer Science, which I finished in 1999.
When did you start working at GCOMM? Tell me a bit more about the early days.
I’m originally from Victoria, came up to the Gold Coast in 1998. I was doing last 2 subjects of my degree off campus. While still doing that, I opened up Yellow Pages, applied to a few jobs, got interviewed by GCOMM and landed a job here.
In the beginning, we predominantly did on-site technical work with Windows+Citrix. The ISP was just something on the side; it was an add-on to other services. Then the operations have grown from the technical side to the Internet, which became the primary revenue builder for us.
What was your role when you first started working at GCOMM? Has it changed over the years?
Initially it was website design. I had a limited involvement with the ISP. Back then we had a couple of servers sitting on the desk, and that was the ISP. The original ISP manager left about 2 years after I started and I just assumed that role and have gone from there.
Internet has always been sort of a passion of mine. It was still really in its infancy stages in those early days but how it changed over the last 10 years is just phenomenal. The Internet is constantly evolving. At GCOMM, we’ve gone from only myself looking after the whole thing and doing a few dial-up connections here and there to doing massive connections now and having 6-7 people looking after it.
How do you keep up with the trends? Have you done industry training?
Yeah, I’ve done a few courses. I did my CCNA course, a few firewall courses, etc. I don’t find them too effective; it is more just a piece of paper that says you’ve done it. Another colleague at GCOMM has done CCNA too, but after they expired, neither of us has renewed them. I think you gain far more knowledge through experience – getting your hands dirty and actually doing things.
I stay current on the industry trends by reading the journals and magazines. I always keep learning and look what’s on the horizon for the Internet industry.
What are the main reasons you stayed in the company for 13 years?
It is absolutely the people. It’s the culture within the company because we’re all really good friends so it’s a great working environment.
And also the challenge. We service quite a niche market so we’ve had some big companies that we deal with. GCOMM is very flexible in the solutions that it provides. So that was a challenge put back on me, being able to provide those services. I needed to make sure they worked, that they were stable and will be supported, not only by myself, but other people. I need to be intellectually stimulated, or it’s pointless.
I was going to ask what is your favourite thing about working at GCOMM, but I think you already answered that in the previous question.
Yes, it’s definitely the people. We’re like one big family. We’ve known each other for a long time, not only personally, but through work. It’s just the culture; you get that flexibility to do different things.
Do all of the GCOMM employees gather often and do things together?
We used to a lot more when we were a bit younger. Every Friday morning we used to go down to the beach and play some cricket. Now it has gotten difficult because everyone is busy with their families. We still occasionally go out, have drinks.
What is one thing that you will always remember from working at GCOMM?
It was definitely when we moved from just having a single POP in the Gold Coast to going more national – to Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne; rolling that out and having the ability to do SPN connections. It opened up a lot of doors and also represented a huge challenge for us.
What are some of your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
Going out in the boat, fishing. I used to like going to the gym a lot but now, with little kids, it has been pretty hard to do that. I’d like to get into that again.
I heard you enjoy traveling, what are some of the most interesting/favourite places you have visited?
That’s a tough question. I’d have to say, one of my favourite vacations was Greek islands cruise. I’ve been all through Europe and loved every country I went to because it was so different. The cultures are so different and they’re close together, which is really nice.
Also, I’ve gone through Egypt, which was absolutely amazing – you see things that are 5000 years old. Seeing the pyramids, all those temples was a great experience.
What does the future hold for you and GCOMM?
The landscape is changing dramatically at the moment, in regards to connectivity in Australia. The connectivity here has been quite poor in regards to bandwidth and cost. With the roll-out of the NBN, much larger links are going to be accessible to more people and far cheaper. It will really commoditise connectivity. So it will come down to us to evolve – simply being an aggregator will no longer be a compelling value proposition in the future, and I think that is what’s going to be the biggest challenge for us over the next 5 years. We need to be able to ensure that we put things in place now so when the NBN actually becomes fully active, we’re not left behind.♦ End