Episode #61 Interview with Ryan Priest

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On this episode of the NewyTechPeople Podcast we interview Ryan Priest, CIO at Alpha Lifecare.

We talk about his career to date, working with AI to improve health care systems, growing his team and advice he would give to professionals looking to start a career in technology.

Hope you enjoy the episode!

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Show Notes

Here you can source all the things we have talked about in the podcast whether that be books, events, meet-up groups and what’s new in the newcastle tech scene.

Time Frames:

01:01 – What has been your career to date?

01:56 – What have been the emerging technologies you have been working with?

05:50 – Working with AI technology.

09:00 – Working with a company in Finland.

14:40 – Aged care facilities.

19:20 – Innovation in the retail space.

22:00 – Face recognition software.

27:00 – Working in the education sector.

28:35 – Sino-global and Alphacare life.

32:50 – What has been your expericne growing your team?

35:50 – What was the main interest for starting career in technology?

42:30 – What advice would you give to people wanting to start a career in technology?

48:30 – The importance of focusing on your mental health as well as your career. 

48:55 – Do you have any mentors?

 

Transcription:

Linda: hi everyone welcome to the new tech people podcast today is very exciting as i’m going to be interviewing ryan priest. i’ve known for about seven years in the newcastle market and he is currently in a dual role, he is the cto of alpha global and cio of alpha lifecare. welcome ryan.

Ryan: well hello linda good to see you today.

Linda: thanks for coming in i know we’ve been wanting to catch up and have a chat about your career today.

Ryan: yeah i think this is what the fifth sixth time we’ve tried to get here but i know my fault for cancelling on you every hey ryan can you do a podcast yeah i can come in now later can’t come in apologise for that.

Linda: i think i cancelled on you a couple of times as well but we’re here we are so i guess i wanted to give the audience an understanding of your career to date and your current role and what that involves i know that we met probably six or seven years ago and at the time i think you were coming out of prima tech or amp control.

Ryan: yeah that’s right probably somewhere around that time frame everything’s a big blur the past um but yeah so you know career in newcastle I’ve done a lot of work in sydney as well probably the highlights from a career where i probably learnt most and really got into it was definitely the amp control days it was prima tech which got purchased by amp control.

Linda: yeah you were in a consulting systems engineering project role?

Ryan: yeah it was an engineering role so a lot of mine work yeah i don’t know we just got out of that and i just decided to go off and do my consulting thing for a bit worked with a whole bunch of different companies and yeah i mean here i am.

Linda: And I know that you’ve always been passionate about that emerging tech space so yep tell me about your current role and some of the i guess emerging technologies that you’re working with.

Ryan: sure i definitely don’t sit well with just doing the same old i’ve probably got the um boredom levels of you know five minutes and i’m done with something so definitely working on the innovation front uh suits me well there’s no doubt about that but yeah definitely with what i’m doing now is uh we we are definitely innovation focused in everything we do we’re serving enterprise clients and healthcare clients doing lots of weird and cool things um but at the same time trying to find the business value that that innovation can bring otherwise you’re sort of wasting your time right there’s a lot of innovation out there it doesn’t make sense. 

Linda: yeah so you joined cyanoglobal as their cto?

Ryan: yep so i was doing some work with salesforce and salesforce rang me and said look i’ve got this got this customer called alphacare in in newcastle and they said look can you just go in there and you know have a chat to them around salesforce and um how it can streamline their processes and yada yada i said look i’m happy to go in there and have a chat with them so i went in and got to know the directors and had a good chat to them and you know we hit it off like a house on fire if that’s the expression um and they said look we’re actually being in the healthcare space hospital and aged care now for you know 20 plus years and they said we don’t do anything around technology but they’re getting a lot of feedback from their clients that we want technology we want technology and innovation and you know they already had this massive footprint pretty much australia-wide in that space they it sort of made sense for them to spin off like a technology division. yep so we had a good chat and um i said look i’m why don’t we um why don’t i come on as your cto and we’ll try and push this um this innovation uh into the aged care space to start with and see how it goes.

Linda: and did they have an idea at that time what type of solutions were needed?

Ryan: yeah they had connected with a german group a company out of german group that were developing these micro sensors that sat underneath flooring so whether it’s carpet or lemon x or whatever it is it was an iot based technology so the idea was is that it could track where residents or patients in their rooms are walking around and if they’ve fallen over or if they’ve gone into the bathroom too long.

Linda: it’s really critical yeah.

Ryan: yeah it’s it’s part of the critical care stuff and the idea behind it was is there’s already a shortage in australia of nurses and support staff and things like that so you know technology is going to start playing a critical role in providing additional levels of care without having to necessarily replace staff but support the staff yeah and that’s what this technology did it went underneath the floors and and it could track if a resident had um fallen over and then it could integrate with other systems and raise the alarms and things like that yeah so yeah that so i went over to germany i spent a little spent i spent a week or something over there and worked with the cto of that company they were still a bit of a start-up as well.

Linda: That would have been exciting.

Ryan: yeah it was all right, unfortunately where the company was was sort of like out in the middle of nowhere um it’d be like the equivalent of i don’t know going to say ten worth or something like that and be like hey yeah it wasn’t like a like a thriving hub um you know what i mean so you know you look out the window of their offices and there’s like a you know a few uh cows out in the paddock i think i saw a tumbleweed a couple of times anyway so i spent a good time with them got to know the technology it wasn’t  ready for australia there was a few things that were wrong things like a lot of it was wi-fi based so there was a not traditional wi-fi but a very specific frequency that we operated on so we had to work with the acma to get that sorted and look it goes on and on and on anyway we eventually got it to a point where it was ready for australia yeah so we got it installed into in our sydney office we have an innovation hub in the city in the cbd which is now our main office anyway okay and we also got it put out to uh installed in a couple of clients a few issues around it i won’t go into great detail around why it wasn’t as successful as we originally thought but it was definitely along the right track that there is an opportunity for innovation within these healthcare settings that absolutely are disruptive that other people aren’t doing.

Linda: okay can you tell us about some of those?

Ryan: yeah sure.

Linda: i think i saw some of those when i came and visited your office.

Ryan: yeah so you would have yeah. everything’s around ai now that we focus on everything’s around artificial intelligence it’s a funny thing ai because i remember like four or five years ago when i was working in different consultancy roles even with amp control you know there was a talk about ai you know being used in industrial settings but i don’t think anyone really understood or had a practical experience with it to be honest with you yeah i know like the biggest thing everyone talks around with ai if you’re not actively involved in ai is chat bytes you get these ai chat bots you see it everywhere distribute an ai chat bot on your website and you can convert 200 plus percent leads and yeah you can’t just stop so you know that you know it was definitely like the cornerstone of ai where everyone didn’t matter if you’re in it or not in it you knew about chat bots right but yeah and i’ll admit i was a little bit got caught up in that whirlpool as well but then what i probably didn’t realise was is just how far ai has come. The obvious way is for ai and through an optical we call it an optical sensor that’s the polite way of saying it optical sensor optical sensor it’s not it’s a camera it’s just a nice comforting name it’s a camera that goes into the room of patients or aged care providers in their rooms fully secure there’s no privacy concerns it falls under the privacy act anyway yeah but the good thing about it is is ai is at a point now where it can actually watch live feeds of camera systems and it can make decisions as to what the resident or the patient in the hospital or the aged care environment are doing and the advantages of implementing systems like that this is one thing i was a little bit naive about when i first got into aged care and the healthcare space hospital as well was when we did when we started distributing say sensor floor systems is that yeah it could detect a fall it could detect if you know someone had fallen on the ground or been in the bathroom too long but it’s too late once the falls happened it’s happened and you know everyone wants it’s a reactive system everything’s about proactive now everyone wants proactive systems right and that’s where the ai that we’re working with is unreal because we can go beyond a fall on the floor we can look beyond that and you have a look at saying aged care statistics majority of falls will occur when the residents get out of their bed and go into the bathroom um so there’s it usually happens early in the morning and things like that they’re disorientated they’ve been in a deep sleep whatever so if you have a high-risk resident and this includes the patients in hospitals as well you you want the ai to be in a position where it can go well this is a high-risk resident and they’re starting to get out of bed or they’re moving around a lot in bed you know and then they start getting out of bed well you want to start raising alarms right there and then.

Linda: yeah so you may need assistance.

Ryan: correct so you know that’s when that’s when the nurses can can come in and deal with it before an accident happens so it becomes a proactive system.

Linda: it’s amazing isn’t it?

Ryan: oh it’s unreal you know i’d love to show you some videos probably can’t share it with the great audience sorry guys but i’ll show you some stick they’re called the stickman video so what the ai sees is not what you and i see it’s like a stickman okay um i’m happy to show you some of them.

Linda: is that for more for privacy?

Ryan: nope no just the way that the ai interprets the video it does a little bit going to the gdpr stuff as well privacy related stuff but no it’s more more to support the ai components.

Linda: any trips to finland?

Ryan: yeah i had to go i went over and visit them and spent time with them got to know the team and what happened was we created a partnership so in australia we’re the exclusive i guess you could say vendor or partner here in australia yeah that are working directly with them to help to help um build that that ai models and help build the application the platform out make it more suitable for hospital and aged care environments here in australia and it’s been an unreal journey because with that technology we have to uh be more specific around how we control the processes which is important for an aged care environment environmental hospital as well because they have obviously nurse call systems or other systems already in place and we have to integrate with those systems.

Linda: Did you find any was there any challenges bringing a foreign product into?

Ryan: oh a hundred percent yeah oh they’re all there’s challenges with everything there’s challenges waking up in the morning um yeah there are there are definitely there are definitely challenges because the gdpr stuff is obviously very important these days and privacy is the biggest one so you know we talk about going into a hospital environment or an aged care environment and saying look we can we can have a computer system uh watch over your loved one or an aged care home and straight away you know the parents are on the back foot or sorry the children are on the back foot or the people who put mum and dad into the homes are on the back foot because they don’t necessarily like the idea of a camera watching over them 24 7 but once you explain to them the process and how it works there’s a lot of things that we do when we’re deploying the systems that try to protect dignity as well things like making sure that the views of the camera can’t see into the bathrooms can’t see toilets.

Linda: so is the commercial model around the individual patient rather than the aged care providers adopting the whole?

Ryan: it’s a two-fold it’s it’s for both the age it’s both i shouldn’t just say aged care it’s healthcare in general because hospitals want it as well but every use case is different right like a like a hospital environment want it so they can they can bring residents uh sorry patients into the hospital might have say spinal injuries or severe neck injuries and the last thing you want is a patient in a hospital with a severe neck injury or a back injury trying to get out of bed early in the morning go to the toilet because what that means for the hospital is if they do further damage um they’re going to be in hospital longer hospitals are all about churning patients they don’t want patients in hospital we want patients in we want patients out so any supporting technology um that can that that can uh help reduce say timing time in care or or in an aged care environment it’s more around the operation or the process side so they’re already got a problem with shortage of staff and and things like that so if you have systems in place that can help reduce that that burden on the staff not necessarily to replace them i mean they’re already running most of them already on yeah running quite skinny when it comes to staff.

Linda: They certainly are, my girlfriend is a director of rpa.

Ryan: so she probably knows firsthand experience the challenges and hopefully the royal commission will will help out a lot of the stuff with the aged care and they’ll throw more money at it by all means it’s not going to necessarily fix the staff problems overnight though.

Linda: Yeah they’re very lean.

Ryan: very lean even like from a salary perspective i only learned like six months ago that a nurse in a hospital versus a nurse in an aged care same requirements from an education perspective paid less.

Linda: i know, it’s ridiculous

Ryan: you think it’d be blanketed or some sort of standard pay rate right but anyway digress yeah so it’s twofold it’s it’s all about keeping keeping additional levels of safety in aged care and hospitals but also at the same time for the provider like an aged care provider it’s important to be exploring innovation and technology because it means that they become a sought-after provider as well but some of the statistics coming out of these technologies are showing things like 50 reduction in falls.

Linda: that’s great isn’t it?

Ryan: yeah it’s massive and especially if you have a look at the cost of a fall are huge in an aged care environment if you’ve got say dementia uh you’re if you have a four you’re you actually speed up your length of end of life by like a year or something like it’s crazy right so we want our loved ones to be around as long as possible we want them to be safe you know we heard a lot of bad stuff about the what kicked off the royal commission in the past um working in aged care and hospital and healthcare environments is i don’t think a lot i think some of it was exaggerated some of it was for real i’ve visited a few aged cares now where i just like shook my head out and go it’s disgusting but saying that i’ve worked with a lot of aged carers who are just doing an absolute mint job like they’re like a six star hotel the technology the child you asked about the challenges look the challenges are it’s it’s such a new technology it’s like there’s only a few deployments now in australia and it’s now taking off we’re working with big brands or big names like saint vincent’s hospitals.

Linda: Yeah, fantastic.

Ryan: Yeah we’ve got a group over in perth that we are working with now who are they’re called curtin heritage yeah if you know the Cotslow area?

Linda: yes!

Ryan: Amazing area yeah beautiful spot.

Linda: big sharks over there.

Ryan: Yeah, big sharks but you know the the the management team out there are building a new waterfront facility.

Linda: oh is this is this the like six star hotel you were telling me about?

Ryan: It’s unbelievable, i actually asked when i was there on site a couple weeks ago if i could reserve a room yes and then they well they told me the minimum buy-in and i was just like ooohhh.

Linda: how much is it?

Ryan: uh a lot i’m not sure i’m allowed to say but they’ll release you can go on their website eventually and you’ll see it.

Linda: So it’s kind of like spending your kids inheritance to get in there.

Ryan: plus some well it depends how rich it depends you are i guess but for me it’d be like yeah it’s not going to happen.

Linda: so there’s one in newcastle as well?

Ryan: oh yeah there’s a new one that was built just down the road yeah.

Linda: I’ve heard that it’s really nice i’ve got friends that have got parents that are living in there.

Ryan: okay they go up so quick like it’s just there’s aged cares is getting propped up everywhere.

Linda: they’ve got like little clubs and swimming pools.

Ryan: oh yeah yeah absolutely.

Linda: So it’s like an aged care like residence in a building.

Ryan: yeah you know well that’s the idea is that they’re trying to get away from being put into like a home essentially like they’re trying to make it a community, keep the dignity try and make it as home like as possible some of the big age cares are now incorporating day care centres into their aged care homes just so like just so you can drop the kids off but they can go grandma can go see them and stuff like that yeah and it’s another revenue stream right um but yeah look always challenges um working with some great clients and you know we’re super excited about the opportunities we’re working with we’re going to see a lot more deployments of this stuff over this year.

Linda: well it’s exciting and it’s doing great stuff for them.

Ryan: yeah yeah well the good thing about it is is like we’ve got we can get university back studies and stuff into it which give us raw numbers actual numbers that are non-biased which are really important and then we just go from there we stick to what we know best and you know we develop the road map out of the technology to meet the needs of um the immediate needs and you know think about the future a little bit as well we have a bit of a saying internally called does it go to the moon i’ve lost count of how many times you you speak to clients around this stuff and there’s such a big divide between what ai can do now and what people think ai can do now and you know there’s we get asked some of the i mean they’re good questions they really are they’re funny questions but some of them you just go wow where did you even think of that you know we had we had i can’t remember who it was uh but they asked if the if the ai could start taking snapshots of you know grandma and grand dad when they’re walking around the home when they’re smiling and anytime it sees them smiling automatically send the parents or the children a photo saying hey look how happy your your mum is and i’m just like what are you what are you talking about like why is that benefit other than just saying that they’re so happy is it going to take a picture of all the times they’re crying and yelling yeah anyway listen digress.

Linda: that’s funny

Ryan: so that’s what we’re doing in the healthcare space yeah and i know that you’ve been you guys have been moving into other markets as well yeah so exciting yeah absolutely so i mean the same ai technology or the concept of ai is can be applied essentially anywhere so we’re finding that we are now so we’ve now essentially got two divisions we’ve got the enterprise division and the healthcare division healthcare is still a priority by all means only because our parent company which is i think you wanted to ask about that later but yeah for alpha life care.

Linda: yeah we’ll talk about that acquisition. 

Ryan: yeah we’ll talk about that and see how that comes into it so it’s definitely a priority from that front to maintain um innovation with healthcare but all of a sudden we had all these opportunities keep popping up around the retail education space logistics pretty much we just call it enterprise because we’re covering every broad vertical.

Linda: and these solutions that you’re providing that come out of your rnd center in sydney or how is that all come about?

Ryan: yeah a bit yeah so we have a pretty clear we call it a playbook very clear playbook on how we bring clients in how we outreach how we get the the transition from the initial outreach to actually getting the technology into into their hands we are a big believer in like proof of concepts so we back our own technology in a way we back the technology it’s not all ours should i say some some of it is a partner-aligned stuff yeah but we definitely try to get the technology up and running in the in the customers facilities just let let the technology do the talking yeah there’s no point i’ll sit and go on sell sell sell and if it doesn’t come off you look like an idiot right so the technology’s at a point where it’s all cloud-based it’s edge-based technology we can just deploy pocs wherever we want yeah fantastic and it sells itself which is a night with us to work with some of australia’s largest asx listed companies.

Linda: yeah great so and so what do you can you talk to us about some of the innovation in the retail space.

Ryan: yeah sure so a lot of face recognition stuff happening and the reason being is because there are obviously a lot of problems with theft and compliance and shrinkage yes so without saying names i’m guarantee you’ve visited some of these stores at some point everyone has but they’re having i mean we’re talking national chains here with you know 400 200 300 400 plus stores australian-wide so you know they’ve got a central head office where a compliance team are dealing with you know theft and stuff the stories are quite aligned across all the big companies we’re working with yeah is that um it seems to me at the moment there’s a bit of a trend of like gangs happening where you’ve got a group of youngans these hipsters these days going into these stores they’re not hipsters they’re younguns going into these stores and um you know picking on a product or finding essentially loopholes in the way that they can steal items out of these stores and then applying it to other stores.

Linda: and is that through a lot of self-service checkouts that we have these days?

Ryan: yeah some of it is yep absolutely and some of it is uh just literally putting product into backpacks but yet purchasing other products and walking straight through lots i mean there’s lots of different methods like even more sophisticated ones like purchasing items and refunding on false receipts and things like that so the stories are pretty consistent but what is consistent is that this and this is across all the changes that they know sort of who these people are they they always get caught that’s the funny thing like they’re just so dumb why would you do it just you’re gonna get caught.

Linda: we’re talking this morning about illegal things that we may have accidentally done i um accidentally filled up my car with petrol and drove away okay good good yeah i did not realise at all until i went back two weeks later and they reminded me.

Ryan: so well that’s pretty good of them i know but it’s good but it’s a good example.

Linda: I was very embarrassed I felt like a criminal.

Ryan: maybe you are at heart who knows it’s a good example though because if they uh had your face on yeah indexed and they knew that you were a threat and this is what’s happening at some of the companies we’re working with is that as they enter the stores because they already know who they are they’ve already captured yeah they can they call it poi as persons of interest they can they can raise the alarm straight away to to the store managers and say you know poi is being seen entering the store they go straight up to them go get out private property they can tell them whatever they want get out you’re not welcome here just instant face recognition and it works the flip side as well it’s not always negative it can be positive like we’ve just completed a job in sydney international airport with the heinemann group you have you heard of heinemann you would have juty free liquor okay oh there we go yeah so as you go as you fly out of sydney or even when you’re coming in you will pass the duty-free stores it’s not just the liquor it’s everything it’s the the pens the mont blanc’s this and all your big brand like.

Linda: cosmetics

Ryan: cosmetics the whole thing pretty much that whole level and i only just learned this by the way when i was working with them i was like oh okay so you know you’re just a liquor and they’re like no we’re everything and i’m like wow so it’s massive business well it was before covid but um you know they’ll get back on track you will but essentially that whole ground level is all hon this company called heinemann they’ve always specialised in duty-free product across every international airport worldwide they’re actually quite a large very large company um sydney has one brisbane has one i think but sydney definitely doesn’t anyway we did a project there with them and you know if you walk in to that uh duty free any store there now all right your face will you know you’ll be on you’ll be on film okay facebook index but they use it they use it in a cool way they use it in a way where if they know they’ve got vips coming through and some of the things they told me like they get these um okay so we have like chinese you know chinese tourists coming through the airport all the different international tourists coming through but some of them are just spending massive dollars on these like limited edition montblanc pens or limited edition x alcohol scotch things and like the dollars are huge like it’s ridiculous. you buy a house for some of these things right and anyway i mean before cover for the international airport chart these people business guys right they’re coming in and out of these airports non-stop and they’re using it pretty cool like they they have their you know they will be able to put a delegate into the system and go vip and the second they walk into say the the the alcohol shop the store manager alerted vip is here run up and be like hey good to see you again it’s a great use of technology.

Linda: Very clever isn’t it yeah

Ryan: but i mean like everything around this is you know human focused it’s it’s all around people yeah so if you can if you can already start um identifying people then it goes way beyond just say face recognition one small part of it you can go store analytics you can understand where areas of the store people are shopping most and what areas are shopping leased and if they run a new marketing campaign if they change product lines how does that impact the the the traffic flow for different areas and it just goes on and on and on.

Linda: are you guys going to have a analytics product on the back of that?

Ryan: yeah yeah they already can do a lot of stuff and um we’re working with another company out of america which is using uh lidar based systems um that are now tracking uh rather than on a camera you can use lidar as well yeah to create um 3d mappings and people yeah and then you know of people yeah of course i mean the ai is smart enough now to go well that’s definitely once you’ve got the model lidar will be able to detect the difference between a table and a person and all that i mean light up picture right yeah yeah but the ai would then go well that’s definitely a person and categorise it as such and yes they can start doing all sorts of crazy analytics uh and then even with like open open area offices and and work hubs and things like that you can start getting down to automation in terms of their spare desks. you know when you go into a car park and it’s like it tells you there’s free spaces in a car park yes well you can do the same i mean they just use a little center above the car.

Linda: all right so they’re all broken at westfield.

Ryan: none of them work they never work it tells you there’s like no free spaces and there’s no one in there and then the other way around there’s like 100 free spaces and you’re like no there’s not but you know that’s because they’ve got these sensors in there that are malfunctioning well lidars can do it a little bit more accurately yeah and you can do the same thing people go into work hubs or go into office spaces.

Linda: you might do it for universities i think universities is great university of newcastle was building a new campus in town there was some kind of technology around usage of rooms and um allocating desks.

Ryan: probably using like um people counting sort of technology there well the next step beyond people counting is definitely um open area and density based sort of uh analytics yeah and then yeah you can go once you’ve got that sort of stuff in place i mean we’re running a trial right now we seek actually seek australia seek australia yeah we’re running and our sales forces new office in sydney that’s been built we’ll hopefully have a troll be going in there as well where they’ll be counting and using this sort of technology to do all sorts of stuff yeah yeah seeker using it to understand the  pre-code and the post-covered like traffic differences to see how utilised their offices are and things like that.

Linda: Yeah, make decisions about leases yeah.

Ryan: yeah and i mean again the technology is a cloud-based tech it’s an edge-based technology and you know we can rapidly deploy it in like four hours it’s up and running.

Linda: so and what about the education sector what are you doing?

Ryan: yeah education’s a funny one um working with a lot of private schools um especially around understanding vape detection is the big one at the moment wow yeah that’s really interesting so private schools having problems with kids smoking in the bathrooms or the change rooms yeah um can’t stick a camera in there to catch them right because it’s nice you know that’s covert spine um i love it a promise you think so yeah we’ve got sensors that are cloud based that can detect vaping uh it can detect pollution in the air blah blah blah fires whatever um and then that can be pushed straight through uh to the principles well to whoever’s running it yeah yeah straight the prince will go bolton in there gotcha and they’re like how did you do that but yeah so uh yeah that’s really interesting it’s really interesting because we didn’t see that coming actually to be honest you i mean we were deploying um a lot of traditional physical security-based systems both everything we do is cloud we don’t do any on-site well we don’t believe in servers and you know other than the other than the healthcare side that’s a bit different but what we’re talking around here on the enterprise side is all cloud-based with a focus on ai to ai centric. so yeah it’s there’s no servers on site there’s no it’s all edge-based technology ml built into the devices things like that.

Linda: yeah and so we were talking about earlier how sino global was acquired by alphacare life what does that mean?

Ryan: okay so yeah so alphacare had the 20 years experience in business but they had there’s another business in sydney called asterisk yeah asterisk yeah they were similar size and then the two businesses came together and they’ve merged and they’ve just become alpha life care so uh yeah so 60 70 million plus revenue business a year yeah i can’t remember the stats um you know 150 plus staff or something like that officers are all up and down the coast um our main office is in the sussex street sydney office.

Linda: yeah and you’re out of you’re out of the cardiff office?

Ryan: i mean i work between the two actually like i spent a fair bit of time i’ve got sales guys down in sydney the cardiff office is more of an admin center now as uh the sydney office is becoming that way as well yeah so uh it’s exciting take off my cto hat for the sino side because that stuff’s already it’s going yeah it’ll keep going it’ll the innovation never stops we’re always i remember what famous person said it but if you don’t look into the future you’re dead or something along those lines actually i was watching that it was the f1 race you watched the f1 racing documentary on netflix no i didn’t oh it’s awesome should have gone into f1 it’s not a good driver but yeah there’s a it’s funny watching the dynamics of how the f1 or the formula one teams work operate in the background and they all say the same things like drivers come in if they’re crap they get rid of them bring new drivers in if they don’t keep innovating the cars and the cars don’t keep getting better they’re going to keep losing podiums and yeah and then it’s so true it’s true to everything especially in the tech space it’s like if you’re just going to stick to one product line forever you kiss yourself goodbye yeah so from the sino global side which is getting rebranded to alpha global to fit in with the bigger business the parent which is out for life care it’ll always keep innovating i mean we’re doing we’re already looking at work with drone systems for automated drone systems and we’ve got a whole bunch of stuff in the pipeline that maybe in a couple years i’ll come back and i’ll probably laugh about all the stuff i’m telling you we’re doing now i was so yesterday yeah you know we’re using laser beams now or something i don’t know teleportation’s a new thing get on board but you know it’s it’s funny even working with technology because i know i’ll sit here and tell you all this cool stuff you’re doing and i know in three months time i’ll see them shake my head and go what are they doing.

Linda: you’re so passionate about it which is great well.

Ryan: you’ve got to be passionate about it right otherwise what are you doing you know and i do get excited i’ve always been excited about technology i think i think it’s like it’s changing our life like whether people want to admit it or not.

Linda: Yeah, as long as i’ve known you you’ve always been wanting to be on the cutting edge. 

Ryan: you’ve got to be yeah look forward right yeah.

Linda: I totally agree like you know you need to have an understanding of what’s happening in your market and your space but if you lose focus because you’re too worried about what everyone else is doing then yeah you’re not going to be able to get much done yourself.

Ryan: you’re absolutely right, there is the slight reality pinch though you’ve got to pinch yourself sometimes and go yeah it’s awesome to be so focused on the future but at the end of the day the business has to make revenues you have to have sales coming in yeah because it’s all good to be living in the clouds but you’ve also got to be living on earth as well right and i think that for me that’s why like from my education perspective i did both a master’s degree in it but i also did a master’s degree in business as well or an mba as you say and i felt for me i felt the two bridged really well because yeah i’ve got a real thorough understanding of it from say a strategic perspective or an innovation perspective but i also i always had a really interesting business as well like i i love that that excitement you get from selling something and not just like a five dollar thing like say a million dollar project yeah it’s a big thing.

Linda: It is a big thing and should be celebrated.

Ryan: it has to be celebrated right and i get that like yeah i’m passionate about um i.t and innovation but i’m also passionate about knowing that from our efforts in the in the workload we’re putting in is that we’re employing people and we’ve got people who because of everyone’s group efforts and as a team where everyone’s working towards something and that’s mean something.

Linda: yeah exactly and that probably brings me to my sort of next point about your team because i know you’ve recently started growing your team what can you tell us about the culture?

Ryan: I owe you a big apology because i know i mucked you around a little bit so before we merged i did approach you about looking at a role but then we merged and it turns out the role from the other business we had access to anyway.

Linda: it’s perfect it works outside it worked out really well.

Ryan: they’re both really good good people you know shout out to jeremy and roxy you know their hearts in it and they got the right attitude and you know it’s a bigger company now by all means i mean in the past they they were small i guess like a smaller business but now it is a fair dinkum size business.

Linda: and how good for them that they get to work with this cool new technology.

Ryan: well i hope so i hope they like i hope they find it interesting and we will try to keep you know boosting them up in terms of their experience and education and they have to put up with me every now and again sorry i’m pretty outspoken if you haven’t worked it out like sometimes i say things where i walk around go you idiot.

Linda: Hahahah no. so what do you look for in a new hire?

Ryan: in a new hire oh it’s got to be all about personality and their what would you call it yeah definitely personality and just maybe like their drive to want to want to be in the role or to just make a difference maybe it and then it’s also good if they can do a little bit of the stuff that you’ve advertised for but you know generally if they’ve got the right attitude they’re sort of good all-rounder yeah look if you’ve got the right attitude you’ve got the right outlook on life and you know you just want to have a go generally you can get people to that point.

Linda: and most of your people are client-facing as well so that it’s important that they can really project implementation.

Ryan: yeah that’s i think that’s a big challenge like definitely something my experience in it over the last 10 12 years whatever it’s been is his wondering i’ve definitely noticed you got a divide between say it leaders who really like got personality and outspoken and they’re almost like sales people as well in a lot of ways they can just click with people uh i think when it comes to dealing with big clients or big opportunities yeah you have to have an even balance between the two and i’ve i have seen or consulted with a few companies that have had say quite one way or quite the other where you might have like a real outspoken team who are really good at selling and they can like sell the dream and do all that but they just can’t deliver they’re useless yeah useless at delivering but then you’ve got the other side of the spectrum where people who like they might get a they might get um they might really struggle with sales like big time like just even the thought of calling someone up or a cold outreach or just messaging someone is such a big issue for them yeah but yet they can deliver the work really well and thoroughly too so it’s about finding that even balance i personally think you see a lot more of it in technology space than you do other industries been saying that it’s pretty biased.

Linda: so how did you come about starting a career in technology and what was the main interest for you at the time?

Ryan: yeah so when you asked me that question i think about remote control cars so i remember had this little like yellow remote control car my dad bought for christmas loved it made a little like backyard sort of thing drove the car over it and dodging trees and things i think i was more like more fascinated on the fact that i can hold a remote yet have this little thing drive around and yeah and then i was like straight on my brain’s like going how’s it doing that how how is there a signal coming from this to that and so young at that point and then like i was saying earlier is is the dial up modem days mom and dad got me one for christmas and you know i thought i was the bee’s knees because i was on on the internet and you know you could make a thousand jokes around that the whole noise of it dialing up the people on the phone how long it took just to download an image yada yada yada yada but it was unreal so cool it was like what is this new world right and then video games started becoming you know real mainstream you know the playstation days but for me it was like you know how are they doing this like i remember just asking how are they doing this and and then as i was starting to get older i started asking more questions around this was like when microsoft were really pushing their server systems and you know i was fascinated like just the fact that you could go to a computer in like a business and you could like put in a username and password i remember this very clearly put in a username and password watch my my mum was a school teacher and i think i went into school one day and she logged into her computer username and password and i’m thinking how do they manage that how do they manage like thousands of users across all these different schools and then i you know and then what i started doing was is um this was back in the day when you could log on to microsoft’s website and you could request trials of like microsoft server or server nt or server 2000 microsoft exchange but they would actually send you out in the mail like the cds um in this cool packaging so i’m like i think i was like 14 15 or something i was just like i just i filled out every form i could on the microsoft website and i’ve probably still got it at home now in a box back at mum and dad’s house but just a box full of microsoft server nt and i used to like get a little computer and i’d try and install the software half time it didn’t work because i knew i was doing but i just want to learn just want to learn learn learn. i never got into like building computers and the hardware side i just couldn’t bother with it networking originally yeah there’s enough people doing it there’s nothing like quite in my opinion there’s nothing unique about it and i think i probably made the right decision there because like even these days you can bring up a vendor and go on xyz and they build it in the factory and send it straight out to you so hardware never really interested me it was more it was more process it was more automation definitely automation and i think that’s how i ended up uh doing say work with i won a scholarship with a with a bank when i was 17 or something.

Linda: oh wow on central coast i didn’t know that

Ryan: yeah i won a scholarship and uh they paid for um some education they also paid for uh microsoft’s microsoft certifications mcp i can’t remember i’m not yeah i’m not i’m sorry i was quite young i was like 18 and i was like an mcsa or something who knows but i was working in banking systems and then um then i had a and then i i started i had a few mates join the army for example and i really wanted to understand how defense do it so i joined the army as well understood how i want to really want to get into like satellites and long-range communication so i joined the signal core learnt all around how they you know send long-range communications from like australia to hawaii or how how radio systems are used during combat then i want to learn about satellites and the it departments and then anyway long story i don’t want to bore you with my past because um it sounds interesting at times but it’s probably not.

Linda: it is it’s an interesting journey that you went on.

Ryan: Yeah and then and i started my own business which is funny right i don’t know what i was thinking but um my business name that i started and get this was called fruit box, why did i call it that? i was like 22 or something i don’t know what i was doing i had the shirts i had these like squishy stress balls um i think people felt sorry for me to be honest with you because i was like i gave you business they gave me business and like every customer i was doing work for like around newcastle’s doing work for doctor surgeries fitting out them with you know microsoft um small business servers i was quite young um i was like 22 and i bought like a brand new wrx rather than you know saving up for a house or something stupid like that i was doing work for all sorts of people and i lost count of how many times people called me asking if i did fruit deliveries.

Linda: Was that when you realised

Ryan: i don’t know why i called it that and the logo even the logo was this box with an apple coming out of it i should show you it one day it’s hilarious um and i haven’t said to my dad like hey maybe we should get in the fruit delivery service because i swear i was getting like four or five phone calls a day people going yeah can i have like a fruit platter sent out to dad i’m like no i’ll come and fix your computer um anyway it’s weird how it all happens and so i started working that’s where i met sean smith who was the director of primatech and they were doing a lot of cool stuff in the mines and um i just came on board to help help him out with his um his staff computers and so he needed a server and stuff said i was doing work with dmat as well which they were all working together but then uh as i was doing a bit of consult contracting with them there’s all of a sudden an opportunity to start actually getting involved in some of the projects that they were working on which is what kick-started my career with the mines and then i straight away worked that’s where i met gary thomas and and ben lim and clint broome for example is that we were gloucester coal was my first big mining job and essentially that whole mine was um was a greenfield we replaced all the i.t and between us three essentially that all of it was us the whole work of everything from the automation of the belts. 

Linda: i remember that from our first when i interviewed you years ago.

Ryan: yeah there you go so i learned an absolute shite ton to be honest with you like my brain was in overload thank thankfully i was so young because i could absorb it now i’d just be like what’s going on it’s like i’ll just probably walk out of the room and just never come back right but so you know i learned a bucket load.

Linda: what advice would you give to young people wanting to start a career in technology?

Ryan: oh look i went all in and just tried to learn and absorb as much as you could stay focused with what you’re passionate about um it’s very easy to sort of maybe get distracted there’s so many different avenues now like back when i was young it was like if you’re gonna get an i.t it was a very there’s a pretty clear path in a lot of ways you know you go do your microsoft search i did all them did my itil search but it was very clear in the direction you could go now it’s like you can be like a software dev you can you know robotics automation like there’s just so many different avenues machine learning engineers yeah yeah yeah and i think it’s just all about just like being focused like just find out where your passions are like you’ve got to do this you’re going to do this for a long time like your career unless you hit the jackpot which i’ve been trying to do the powerball come on baby but chances of you winning that are pretty low so you have to have a backup plan and that would be probably a career i guess and in your career um you know you’ve got to find what you’re passionate about otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s not only your time wasting everyone’s time.

Linda: yeah exactly.

Ryan: because you’re gonna get bored he’s gonna keep jumping between and then you’re gonna get to like the ripe old age where you go why didn’t i just follow what i thought was interesting or why didn’t i just why didn’t i just spend my days waking up and actually look forward to going to work and i’m definitely at that point i love going to work yeah i love the people i work for i love what we’re doing i think i’m very blessed in a lot of ways i’m not a religious person but i’m definitely feel like you know the opportunities that i’ve had has been a result of me probably being quite vocal about what i want to do but also just like knowing that i’m interested in something and chasing that so i guess my advice to newcomers and people coming to the market is don’t rush it by all means don’t think you have to have like this clear path of what you want to do because you’re probably not going to work it out for about five years into your career right yeah and that’s that’s normal like it’s more than normal in fact i’d probably encourage it like dabble in a little bit of everything but once you find something that really excites you go and master it like go and do the best you can at it because it’s only going to benefit you in the long run and you’ve got to have an end game and your end game is to retire and spend time with your family.

Linda: i think there’s just a lot of pressure on kids these days to have it figured out straight away.

Ryan: i think that pressure is like always been there in some ways it probably stems from um both your parents and what the school expectations are and stuff and you do it a lot of us did just go surfing during the day and don’t worry about it but don’t take my advice and don’t do that.

Linda: so what about what takes up your spare time i know you’ve got a young family?

Ryan: yeah yep so i’m a proud owner of a caravan so i’ve done it.

Linda: Did you just buy a caravan?

Ryan: well yeah we’ve had it for a couple years now so unreal i wish i’d done it when i was younger and you know and shout out to the to the wife you know she’s the best woman in my life by the way she’s an absolute rock, kids are amazing i’ve got awesome kids like but look the caravan thing we bought this jayco it’s not the best thing ever but it was enough for us and we go everywhere we go up the coast or we don’t even have to go everywhere i mean you have to look out the window there and there’s beaches and you go to like one mile beach salamander bay, we just rock up on friday we can leave work friday afternoon attach it to the car go pack up go set it up kids ride their little bikes around the family.

Linda: they love it.

Ryan: sit back in your camp chair pop a beer put your glasses on and like you’re really disconnected, gives you that chance to really disconnect because you’ve got to disconnect you’ve got to disconnect from your job and or everything goes to s**t it really does and i learned that the hard way and and i think you’ve you’ve got to find that even balance and there’s a lot of strategies you can put in place.

Linda: still working on that.

Ryan: yep aren’t we all and you’re always going to work on it you know it’s never it’s never something that will come to an end it’s a journey it’s just like your career how you how you manage your life outside of your career as a journey you know i’ve only just started i’ve tried to meditate every morning for 10 15 minutes now to deal with say things like anxiety like i’ll be open about i’ve got a lot of anxieties yeah i’ve had a lot of problems with it in the past you know i’ve got help for it and stuff like that and you know and and i wish and that’s probably another piece of advice i’ll give if you are an anxious person or dealing with even borderline depression and things like that go talk to someone about it so yeah go build some strategies and just deal with it.

Linda: so you can’t to get out to deal with those times.

Ryan: gone are the days where you feel ashamed of it or or talking about your feelings and things like that everyone has times and more moments in their life where they’re overwhelmed absolutely and like life is like champagnes and razor blades you’re popping wine or you’re staring down the barrel right but like you you don’t have to get to that point by all means but i’m saying there’s ways of dealing with it everyone finds their own way and i think that’s something that i wish looking back on when i first got in into career or technologies is especially working in mining industries and things like that it’s quite it was it was very much a very stressful job because you know things stopped working you’re the first one called and when you’re two hours away from the mine you’ve got to jump in the car like late at night and you’re flogging it down the highway to get to the mine site and it’s stressful right and it builds up on you and i think at a young age you’re very receptive to like stress for example but you don’t realise just how much your brain’s processing it in the background and for me it kicked in definitely when i was in my early 30s where like i’m not saying i had a meltdown or anything like that but i definitely hit a point where i was like i’m actually really stressed about everything like even my home life it was coming out like you know always like on edge or you know there’d be a bit of rubbish on the ground and I’d get cranky and it’s just life right and and you’ve got to find you’ve got to find a way to like deal with that because you again you’re going to be in a career for a long time and you you want to be the best version of yourself.

Linda: so invest in yourself.

Ryan: yeah invest in yourself go if you need you know whatever you need to do.

Linda: do you have any mentors or business leaders that inspire you that you still need to stay in touch with i know you’ve mentioned clint a couple of times?

Ryan: oh look even some of the directors you know lou craddock he’s a he’s a cool cat he’s very outgoing he connects with people really well.

Linda: Is he one of your current directors?

Ryan: yeah love his energy um he’s the sort of guy when he’s when he’s in a good mood you can you can be around him all day and just you just want to enjoy just just to be around him right.

Linda: Those people are great.

Ryan: yeah and i often find myself like sometimes when maybe i’m having a bit of a down day or you know just not feeling the vibes i’ll think about oh you know who am i going to meet with today oh luke’s in the room and then i’ll be like good good because i know my mood will go from here to here just by having a laugh with yeah such a positive dude.

Linda: i think that’s a really conscious decision you have to make as a leader as well when you come into the office or enter a room leave all the other stuff at the door.

Ryan: yeah definitely from that perspective and then definitely my wife.

Linda: That’s lovely.

Ryan: yeah she’s that reality check that i need all the time she’s the one who brings me back a little bit gets me out of the clouds and you know she’s a schoolteacher so she’s a hard ass to put it bluntly and you know treats me as a kid sometimes but you know it’s okay because i need to be treated as a kid on certain things every now and again.

Linda: you know having that person at home that’s yeah brutally honest sometimes yeah it can be still kind but it’s sometimes you need that brutal yeah absolutely honesty.

Ryan: she’s a super smart pickle so you know she did her master degrees in education and you know and i look up to all those sort of things i love looking up to my wife it’s awesome probably good relationship. Back on the business front there’s a there’s another guy at work called jason paulin he’s also a senator maybe for lake macquarie he’s in the politics game anyway he’s a very straighty 180y business guy he’s got an awesome background um he’s probably even someone you’d want to bring on the show i’d love to introduce to him but he’s worked with like bhp steel in management positions he’s done a lot in newcastle a lot and yeah he’s just like he’s so good he’s taught me a lot around like how important is to have good contracts to square off your your legals um yeah cross your t’s dot your eyes all that sort of stuff and i think ever since i’ve been like since working with him him and i have formed a really good bond because i can bounce things off him like he does all our recruiting now and like he understands all that while i like to go hey we want to work with this customer but i just look this mumbo jumbo legal stuff just go tell me what we need to do he loves it he’s passion. 

Linda: Where can people find you they want to get in touch?

Ryan: i don’t know like just linkedin i’m just all over the shop i don’t know down at the grocery store or maybe in the office or in the car cruising. i don’t know go on to linkedin i’ve been trying really hard not just to connect with everyone if you’re going to connect with me don’t just connect with me like send me a message i want to say hello give me a call like i don’t really care can i talk to anyone like yeah um you know that that’s the whole point of like a professional network is to meet other professionals and talk about what you’re doing and i mean if you want to ring me up and try and sell something then you know make sure it’s pretty good.

Linda: or relevant.

Ryan: we get enough of that but you know by all means just connect with me on linkedin and let’s let’s like share each other’s posts and and um we can we can all take turns of commenting on the tony robbin’s motivational posts um which are always good for a laugh.

Linda: well thank you so much this was very entertaining it’s always good to catch up with you.

Ryan: and you linda.

Linda: You’ve always got some great stories and great energy so i really appreciate you coming in and having a chat about your business and the exciting things that you’re doing at alphacare.

Ryan: cool and thanks for having me.

Linda: no problem you’re welcome.

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