Episode #64 Interview with David Lynch

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On this episode of the NewyTechPeople Podcast we interview David Lynch, CEO at OAS Technology. We talk about David’s educational pathway into his career in technology, OAS’ future plans for growth and the recent refresh of their brand. 

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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:

00:30 – Tell us about your journey into your role at OAS? 

04:10 – What attracted you to this position at OAS?

07:11 – What size businesses do you normally support?

07:35 – Can you explain what minder product is?

11:50 – Can you tell us about the recent refresh of OAS?

13:00 – Growing the team at OAS.

17:30 – What educational pathway did you take?

18:34 – What advice would you give to young professionals wanting to start a career in technology?

20:25 – What do you like to do in your spare time?

21:00 – Have you been listening to any podcasts recently?

24:24: Where can people find you if they want to get in touch?

Transcription:

Linda: Hi david welcome to the new tech people podcast so i wanted to get a bit of an understanding of your career to date your journey and how you’ve ended up in the role you are today with oas sure sure firstly um thanks for having me i feel a bit honored actually to be uh arriving on the new tech podcast so avid listener myself so it’s fantastic it’s actually to be on which is excellent um i suppose my background is uh has always been in that sort of commercial space yep um back in the sort of more finance and accounting type stream i suppose but um i’ve now found my way into the ceo role at ois which has been awesome as well so but no i started i suppose i’m a maitland boy through and through so i i’ve um of for my career i’ve always either traveled to newcastle or up up the valley of sahana valley um but yeah i started back in i can’t remember the dates i’m not even going to try with the dates but um back when i did my traineeship so when i came straight out of school i did a trainer accountancy um uh i took a trainee accountant’s job sorry um at club phoenix yeah so part of the west group which is funny enough one of our major clients yeah yes as well so it’s kind of yeah the circles sort of come right away with nib and ib was my first job out of school and now they’re a client interesting isn’t it yeah that’s crazy but um yes i spent four years there doing my traineeship um and then i moved on i i’ve worked at newcastle entertainment center for about 10 years as well in various finance roles there up through the finance management role but i’ve also worked into mining services as well so um i spent a little bit of time with cci pope who are non-destructive testers um and they were bought by people uh they were cci international i think it was cool um and it could have been it could have had another iteration since then yeah um but uh also with some pegasus as well which has had obviously fantastic success recently um all over the news so um yeah they’ve done really well and then i’ve had a little bit of time um with an insurance builder uh at rpf building spent some time there then um here i am oh yes yeah so after pegasus i know that you joined life without barriers which is a very large organization in the not-for-profit sector and um that was the cfo role at the time yeah i started off actually in a finance role and then i moved relatively quickly into the cfo role there but a lot of that barriers was a huge part of my life they’re a full purpose sort of organisation which which resonated really well with me and um but it was a large role so a national role they’re a massive organisation now they were i thought massive at the time um who would have had about eight thousand about eight thousand employees now yeah um when i joined i think there were about 250 mil i think when i left they hadn’t quite hit the half a billion mark but i’m pretty sure they’ve well and truly exceeded it now so yeah so that was um that was an awesome time but demanding a demanding role but um you know so rewarding as well and what did you enjoy most about that role look i think the fact that you felt like some of the work that you were doing was not just about the wage and the job it was actually providing services to the community as well so obviously there’s a lot of politics involved with government funding so um something that’s rewarding some of it’s not so rewarding um but uh but at the end of the day to know that you’re impacting people’s lives and in a positive way that’s um even if it was from the back office necessarily not necessarily always at the front line everyone’s contributing to that service yeah i know they’re a great organization lots of great people there yeah super great and so you sort of doubled a bit in tech and then a bit more sort of in the enterprise space what what attracted you to this opportunity with oas yeah so um i’ve known oas for uh probably 20 of the 30 years or so that it’s been going so i’ve known tony and craig the two directors probably for that long as well um but it was back in the newcastle entertainment center days when i first came across them and i think probably what struck me at that time was just their customer service ethos their their attention to what the customer needed and wanted and they just realized so quickly um you know how urgent things necessarily were so yeah i still remember back in the pasha bulker flood days we got about a meter of water through the entertainment center and they were there the next morning we had to get disney on ice set up i think of all things um so we had we had ice floors to get down yeah exactly more water but but we had to house you know six or seven thousand people in the in the arena as well at the same time um and they were there you know our phones were down our file server had flooded everything so but they got us up and running um so it was that sort of mentality that i think probably attracted me to them i came across them in the pegasus days as well when i was up the valley so good and so what was what was the remit of your role when they first hired you to take on the royal ceo yeah sure what what did you have to what do you have to achieve for them yeah look i think part of it was to try and bring a bit more structure a bit more governance to the role the guys have grown the business substantially particularly over the last five years and i think that was getting to the stage where they were trying to be business owners as well as business developers as well as hr experts as well as finance people so i think they got to the stage where they needed to to have someone sort of do the day-to-day and it’s the whole i suppose work on the business not in the business too much so um yeah they’ve been able to i hope um move back a little bit and sort of take that helicopter view a bit more um they’re still actively involved in the business they still do a lot of sort of business development type sales um account management type stuff which is what they really like to do as well they like to get out in front of the customers all the time so yeah good and so you’ve been steadily growing what can you tell us about that growth and some of the customers that you’re working with yeah sure i mean the last as i said before the last five years has been probably their most substantial growth they made a decision five years ago to sort of move to that cloud-based hosting type arrangement um and so uh that’s where our mind of product was actually born that’s one of your key products yeah yeah our hosting service is actually probably the key along with our communication services so back at that five year mark we we sort of uh invested heavily into that infrastructure and into creating our sort of our own mpls system and that enabled us to then sort of own the full um i suppose the full gambit from the communications right through to the hosting side of things so okay yeah and what sort of size businesses do you normally support in terms of your clients yeah so we’re mainly small to medium-sized businesses that we we’re mainly servicing so not so much the enterprise type customers so anywhere between sort of 10 seats and 250 type seats is probably what we’re mainly aimed at so so for the audience that may not know what minder is can you explain what my under product is yeah sure and what your plans are yeah sure mondra essentially is um is our hosted server solution so it’s essentially the cloud a lot of people hear about the cloud um and that’s what it is uh um i suppose behind all the smoker mirrors it it um our data our infrastructure sits in two data centers down in sydney yeah um that are both replicated so um you know if one goes down for whatever reason whether it’s a power outage or whatever all the data can swing across to another to another data center yeah so can you talk to us about some of the data centers that you’ve got in sydney and the security around that because that’s obviously a hot topic in the cloud infrastructure space yeah absolutely so um so we’re in the equinix data centers down in sydney one based in silver water and one based in the city and they’ve got their government grade type um data centers so they’ve got all sorts of security um i suppose gates that you need to get through in order to go anywhere near the actual servers themselves yeah um and they’ve got all the temperature controlled stuff which a lot of those data centers necessarily do but for us it was just that extra level of um security that we wanted to be able to have yeah good i saw i watched the video on your websites i saw big fans yeah they yeah there’s massive generators there’s all sorts of things to make sure those things sort of stay up all the time um but as i mentioned before so when if one was to go down for any particular reason it’s all backed up in our other site that’s great and we have that ability just to ramp up our clients so that they have no sort of outages at all so yeah fantastic great okay so um so the minder cloud infrastructure is one of your key products can you tell us about your plans for that and there’s some upgrade plans yeah i believe yeah there is so we’ve already um done our first upgrade um we called it minded 2.0 so it was funny because i just arrived at oas and i think i arrived in the february of 2020. and about six weeks later that thing called covert hit and so i kind of ruined everyone’s yeah it kind of was it was a bit tricky to navigate through that but um we got through it and you know the the team were really supportive so with an awesome team um everybody just dug in but at the same time we were due to have an infrastructure upgrade so we moved from a what they call a flex pod system right into a hyperflex system with cisco as well so so that upgrade was a sizable investment and sort of in the middle of covert most people kind of bunker down and count their pennies and make sure that they’re going to be able to get through um i suppose the the guys entrepreneurial type spirit came out and um they knew they had to upgrade perfect time to do it yeah strategically it just made sense for us to do that and we had a little bit of downtime i wouldn’t say a lot of downtime um to be able to actually focus on that upgrade so that we’ve done that and now we’re at the stage where we’re we’ve almost grown so much that we actually need to upgrade again so yeah our storage and our capacities are starting to get the stage where we need to go again yeah and so what are the plans around that yeah so it’s it’s a lot of the time it’s just um it’s about just procuring the actual hardware that’s got to be sourced we’ve got to make sure our network links are going to be able to um cope with the capacity and then pretty much going down to our data centers so our data centers are in sydney and uh and loading the infrastructure in and configuring it and making it happen fantastic yeah and what do you think the unique selling proposition is for oas yeah look i think competitors yeah compared to i suppose other managed service providers our unique part i think is the communication side of it so other other competitors are already i suppose hosted service providers yeah but they don’t always do the communication links so we’re a reseller through aapt um and so we’re able to provide nbn services fast fibre services which means that we kind of own that full that full chain and we take control of it and so when something goes wrong we’re responsible to sort of fix the whole lot of it so yeah yeah great it’s fantastic so can you tell us about the recent refresh of your branding and logo and i know that you’ve invested in some marketing as well so can you talk to us about those plans yeah we have um uh really importantly we needed to to give our our brand i suppose a bit of a refresh over the years the last probably three or four years we kind of confused our brand just a little bit um our minder product was sometimes pushed out as more of our leading brand as such whereas obviously ois technology most people all people know us as ois and so that’s what we needed to be able to bring further forward so we went through a really rigorous process around that and spend a bit of marketing dollars around making sure that we got the right process in place and yeah i think we’ve come up with i think a really clean neat brand um just in the process now of changing our cars over we’ll do uniforms we’ll do all those sorts of things as part of the process but uh website’s been done on marketing materials absolutely yes yeah we’re gonna do another brand new website so we’ve kind of reskinned the website for now but it’s um it’s gonna be fantastic so we’re really proud of it yeah congratulations thank you great news yeah so let’s talk about your team and culture at oas i know that you’ve had fairly good retention and you’re looking at growing your team further what are some of the skills and attributes and softer skills that you look forward and you hire i know you’ve mentioned customer service what else do you look for yeah look i think um a willingness to learn i i think is probably a big thing we try and make sure the engineers that we do have absolutely part of the client journey if you like and part of that customer experience so we want them to put themselves in the shoes of the customer one of our core values is acting like an owner so we want them to act like the owner of that business um that they’re dealing with so take accountability yeah so one of the things that we’re struggling with at the moment linda is you’re well aware is um is recruitment so it’s it’s kind of really hard to get um i suppose experienced skilled staff in newcastle alone we’re having to to go further afield in terms of sydney and other places to try and actually get that skilled staff so that’s kind of a short-term issue that we’ve got but um so we want to solve it for the longer term and so part of that is is to to try and onboard trainees we’ve currently got a couple of trainees this is your graduate program the reminder academy yeah academy that’s right um and uh so as they come on we support them obviously through any tafe processes that if they need to continue to get their accreditations there we support them through that and then we put them through our own internal product courses um to make sure that they actually got a career path when they come to ois we see that um as a huge benefit it helps obviously the customers and and ourselves but also helps the the graduates if you like um progress their careers yeah and get opportunities because i know that that’s the highest age group of unemployment yeah at the moment in the hunter especially yeah and especially in a tech world i think that’s it’s kind of almost crazy that we have so many people who are so technically savvy these days on mobile phones and computers yet there’s such a skill shortage in the it space so part of our sort of charter i suppose is to try and get those people through the various levels within our organization right up to a specialist level so if they wanted to you know specialize in data centers or in networks or in cyber security yeah so there’s lots of different paths that they can choose and we we’re more than happy to support them through that so you’re most of your senior engineers are more sort of generalists or they were they specialize in certain areas do they yeah as they go up they um they tend to specialise um and so we’ve got a couple of people who look after our data center uh we’ve got a guy who who manages our whole network and obviously they’ve got understudies and we’re trying to bring those people along as well yeah and so yeah that’s kind of how it works and so with your mind academy graduate program how many sort of graduates can you take on a year yeah we’ve only just kicked it off and so we’ve probably just started with a couple to start with um but i think there’s a potential for that to grow certainly next year as well um the two we’ve got are going superb um yeah excellent they’ve got really good communication skills already they’ve had previous jobs where they’re dealing with the public um and so they’re you know at times when they have tricky conversations they know how to handle those conversations as well yeah good and um i know that we sort of touched on the minor academy what about more senior staff do you support them with certifications yeah absolutely so there’s um we’re generally a cisco house so we follow the cisco certifications so we support people through their ccnas and some of those other specialized type accreditations as well yeah so absolutely we’re that’s part of you know we would be crazy not to support them in those sorts of things yeah good and so everyone sort of fairly much works in the office full time or they’re out sort of on client sites is there any other benefits that you offer yeah look i mean i think one of the things um which i was surprised at is probably a little google-like but um we’ve obviously got a lovely office uh particularly in newcastle yeah so that’s fantastic we’re super lucky um to be up there on the beach so but we offer our staff um free gym as well as um yeah uh lunches every day memberships and all sorts of stuff as well so it’s great yeah we’re trying to make it as you know and obviously coffee um our tech people love their coffee so yeah um there’s coffee machines and all that sorts of stuff as well just those little add-on benefits memberships yeah yeah people don’t necessarily expect it but they they um they love it yeah very good speaking of um education what career what education path did you take um earlier in your career and would you choose that path again interesting interesting question would i choose it again look i think i said so i did a bachelor of commerce at newcastle uni and then went ahead and did my cpa certified practicing accountants program and i’ve also done the australian institute of company directors uh some of my graduate there as well would i choose that path again i think it gave me a great grounding from a commercial sense so and the skills are very very transferable across industries so you know i’ve worked for communication companies i work for not-for-profits you know mining services companies tech companies entertainment centers in the venue hot in the venue hire industry so that’s been fantastic from an experience point of view you don’t kind of get pigeonholed and it helps you i suppose learn so much more about other industries businesses and you can apply that to other sectors yeah would i be an accountant again jury’s out jury’s out i’m not 100 sure but um look i wouldn’t i wouldn’t change anything i’ve had a very fortunate very lucky career yeah today so yes so what advice would you give to young students wanting to start a career in technology what paths would you recommend for them yeah sure so um look the the tafes and universities do great programs and and give you the basics definitely around networking but i suppose you know my advice would be try and work within a certainly a msp environment a managed services provider environment to start with because you get a very good broad section of experience so the enterprise side i suppose is more about one network you know everybody does things the same way sort of thing um whereas an msp gives you a broad cross-section there’s so many different businesses set up and some completely different different sizes different yep absolutely so some are hosted some are on prem servers some are you know different software products um you get a greater you know breadth of experience yeah that’s right yeah yeah fantastic and do you guys use productivity tools at work yeah we do um we’ve got a full psa so it kind of it’s like a crm i suppose it runs all of our ticketing systems and that helps uh you know the way the technician actually needs to work on a day-to-day basis so sort of everything gets laid out for for the engineers but internally i suppose you know we use trello to help try and organize ourselves in terms of some of our many projects that we have and just keeping of our list of things to do but certainly nothing more advanced than that just yet um the psa tools got its own project management module and so uh it gets used extensively now as well yeah fantastic so let’s talk about you david let’s talk about your what you’d like to do in your spare time i know you’ve got a family so yeah i have about you outside of work three awesome kids and an awesome wife um so the kids are kind of starting to get to the age where they’re now finishing school i suppose so much of our time over the last 15 years maybe longer has been around kidsport um so and that story yeah the kids did really well at their sport so we traveled all around the state good what sports were they into um cricket and soccer yeah yes uh and overplays netball as well so yeah um so yeah so that’s kind of starting to drop away a little bit so we’re getting more getting our weekends back a little bit yeah so we’ve just done some house renovations yeah very nice and do you listen to any great podcasts at all of course i listened to the new e-tech podcast top of the list you’ve paid me to say that um no but look i’ve got a couple others so um i love the howie games um howie games is um how he’s the commentator of fox sports does the cricket does uh afl and lots of other things but um he gets really good sort of elite athlete guests on board yeah good um so they’re fantastic to listen to those ones there’s a podcast called curveball which is a leadership type podcast that he talks about um leaders who have had to experience difficulty and how they’ve sort of got their way through that um endured it and sort of yeah an american base no i think it’s australian yeah i don’t think it’s american i have to write that down yeah no it’s a really good one um i love the ted talks the ted talks are always good to listen to they’re sort of quick and snappy um helpful for the you know the drive into work from time to time so yeah they’re probably the main ones yeah good and is there any mentors or business leaders that you’ve met during your career that you still stay in touch with and get advice from and bounce things off yeah sure i mean i suppose i’ve got great respect for the two that i work with at the moment in tony and craig so yeah from an entrepreneur entrepreneurial point of view certainly those guys um but claire robbs from lwb my time there yeah she’s amazing to to be able to i suppose deal with the politics and uh run such a large organisation and she’s been doing it for a long time yeah that’s right so um yeah she’s been a huge influence on my career yeah fantastic and if you could give yourself younger self some career advice what would that be i think probably um don’t sweat the small stuff i think when you’re younger you tend to well i tended to anyway ruminate on things and sort of just have um i don’t know probably worry about the small stuff way too much and try and get back to the bigger picture um i can relate to that yeah yeah yeah i think just don’t sweat that small stuff i think would probably be my best advice yeah we’re not you know we’re not brain surgeons at the end of the day she’s gonna die yeah that’s right that’s right and it’s very relevant i mean that sort of stuff is you know um some friends now going through some things and you know just with their health and your sort of thing yeah at the end of the day um taking time for your health and taking time for your family is really important yeah and i think covered sort of help with some of that sort of rebalancing of that sort of stuff as well yeah a little bit i’ve spoken to a few people that it’s actually gone the other way for them because it’s hard to uh put a line in the sand between work and home and i know that that’s something that i’ve i’m working on myself it can tend to blend um yeah if you’re at home all the time but i suppose you know i i’m a little bit the opposite in terms of we’ve we’ve consciously gone back to the office we have a lot of collaboration that happens at the office so um you know i i try to as much as possible even though you always think about things when you’re at home um you try and keep that that barrier yeah so where can people find you if they want to get in touch and talk about the services at oas yeah sure just i mean obviously our website’s there there’s an enquiry areas that’s the one and obviously i’m on linkedin as well so people can hit me on linkedin as well yeah yeah good well thank you so much it was really good to see you today and i’ve obviously followed your career i’ve spoken earlier in the life about barrier days when you were there yeah so it’s good to see you end up in a great spot doing great things at oas thank you very much and thanks for um inviting me on you’re welcome great thank you

you

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