Written by Lancom Communications, March 2023
Hard to believe, perhaps, but Lancom Technology's Group CEO Waruna Kirimetiyawa has had exactly one job since joining the IT industry after graduating from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Information Systems.
Or, more properly he’s only had the one employer laughs the always approachable and affable Waruna. “It was quite funny when I joined Lancom; I was just a grad looking for an internship. Lancom and DeskDirector founder Warwick Eade had these great ideas of building software and taking on the world, and there were only about five of us back then. I was immediately impressed, and the enthusiasm was infectious. And the focus on quality and the foresight that went into creating software, while being agile and moving into the cloud early on made for lasting appeal.”
In an industry where staff tenures are more typically measured in years, Waruna’s two decades plus with Lancom shows the results of loyalty, dedication and a focus on creating value rather than collecting a paycheck. He’s gone from intern System Engineer to Engineering Manager, to Chief Technical Officer and then General Manager and Director, before becoming Group CEO covering Lancom and DeskDirector, while also now serving as an Executive Director of HSE Connect. There have been notable milestones along the way, but one Waruna remembers particularly fondly is when Lancom landed its first managed services contract back in 2002.
“This stands out because it established basic principles in place to this very day,” he notes. “For most customers, there isn’t enough money or time to fix things properly. Flip that to the MSP view, and your biggest measure of success is simply that there are no problems with the IT. That is the value proposition.”
Of course, he adds, as technology specialists, helping clients navigate the massive leaps in technology constantly taking place is part of the job, too. As new products and technologies emerge, some, none or all will be useful to different customers. In some cases, the technology can be intimidating or even scary: right now, some are worried that ChatGPT might throw people out of work. “The reality, of course, is that technology is a tool. With the right tools made reliable and available, we’re all better equipped to do what people are best at – and that’s working and interacting with other people.”
In more recent times, and since Waruna took the CEO job, Lancom has made several notable acquisitions while building capacity as not only Auckland’s premier MSP, but also a trans-Tasman force with an office in Melbourne. Even as the post-Covid boom times have given way to tightening economic circumstances, he says the company is in excellent shape; both an expanding or a contracting economy presents opportunities for the agile MSP. “We’ve focused on careful rightsizing with a sharp focus on process improvement and automation. That’s something we’re doing internally, while also helping customers along the same lines. After all, technology augmenting people is one of the key promises the industry makes, and our approach is helping people become more effective and efficient, rather than hiring your way out of challenges.”
It’s an approach and a message he says resonates with organisations across the board, particularly as skills challenges ramp up across multiple industries. “The answer is better tools that take out the mundane and the repetitive. There’s no joy in that for people, and machines don’t get tired, and they are accurate with rote tasks.”
With this approach, Waruna says growth remains on the agenda, after some already impressive gains. While he concedes times are tougher, the anticipation for 2023 is around 22 to 25 percent growth in the fifth year towards Lancom’s 10-year target of a $50-million turnover. Notably, “We’re careful about our customers. They aren’t a number; they are people and we want to know them as individuals with an alignment of values and goals. When we understand their business and the underlying drivers, we create and deliver value.”
Looking ahead, Waruna sees a bright future for Lancom and all its people. “I love the genuine curiosity from account managers, staff, and customers. This is one of our core values, be curious not only about our customer, but their customers. This mindset really matters when providing advice on how to succeed. It underpins weighing up risk and opportunity and the value we can provide. When you’re thinking in these terms, the outcome and the strategy is far more powerful than a technical discussion of ‘move to the cloud’. Because now you’re talking about benefits for customers. And that’s what really matters, no matter what business you’re in.”
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