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Samsung boosts NZ presence, targets enterprise

Company hires former Simpl boss; changes at Simpl explained by chairman

Samsung has scaled up its New Zealand operation, from ten staff three years ago to a current head count of 170.

"We've grown so fast we're having an induction of new people every Monday," says Verdon Kelliher, who joined the company late last year as enterprise director.

Among the starters is a new country manager for Samsung NZ, Kenny Yeon, who began in the role this week. Yeon has worked for Samsung since 1994.

Kelliher's role is to rapidly grow Samsung NZ's presence in the business-to-business market, in line with the company's global strategy.

"At the moment it (business-to-business) makes about one percent of their sales and they want to make it their leading contribution to revenue over the next four years," says Kelliher.

Kelliher will work with channel partners to increase Samsung's sales to government and large blue chip companies. Demonstration labs for business users are being built in Auckland and Wellington and he says his team of seven will increase to 10-15 people, a mix of account managers and pre-sales staff.

"In 30 countries they've put in people like me to build up a business-to-business market. My brief was to come on like a start-up, which is sort of what Simpl was, and build up an enterprise business much like I used to run at IBM and go and get the best of the best with account managers and partners and set up the business."

Simpl changes

Prior to joining Samsung, Kelliher was CEO of local IT company Simpl, a position he held for one year.

"The Simpl role was a transformational role, they brought me on there to steady the ship and to expand the sales capability and also the customer base."

Simpl chair and founder Bennett Medary says the new CEO -- the third in the company's 20 year history -- is Jodi Mitchell.

Bennett says Mitchell has held senior roles in the business for 13 years, and might have taken over the role in 2011, when Kelleher was appointed, but she was not available at the time, due in part to Ironman commitments.

"We were anxious to bring in some fresh approaches and ambition, underpinned by a strong commercial sales background and experience with both tier 1 and tier 2 solution providers," Medary says in an email to Computerworld.

"Verdon had both the experience and ambition we were seeking and threw himself into the role. So much so that, within a year, Verdon had executed his generic, largely sales and people orientated plans, and then focused on implementing our 'global product' strategies. This was a new and exciting endeavour for all of us, including Verdon. As focus became paramount, Verdon handed over his general CEO duties to Jodi."

Medary says Kelliher saw the company through a successful "transition" year for Simpl.

"I think that the year reinforced Verdon's predominant strengths and I was not at all surprised when he landed the lead enterprise sales role at Samsung NZ."


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