Doing business with Justin Robbins of Sage Business Solutions

Doing business with Justin Robbins of Sage Business Solutions

The country manager of Sage Business Solutions New Zealand shares his strategy – courtesy of a mentor – for thriving through disruption and change.


Justin Robbins


Country manager – Sage Business Solutions New Zealand

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How long have you been in your current role?

Three months on the ground in New Zealand.

What business technology issue is your organisation focusing on?

Sage provides ERP, payroll, HR and customer relationship management tools to businesses ranging in size from small to medium all the way through to upper mid-market. How businesses are currently being run is changing rapidly, and our focus is on ensuring that not only owners and managers are in control, but shop floor and customer facing staff as well. We’re all about creating a good customer experience, and we achieve this by providing a great software user experience.

What are your interests away from work?

Pretty much anything that involves being outdoors, fishing, golf, kayaking. New Zealand has a great work life balance, so time with the family is great here.

What are you reading at the moment?

Read more: Primed for change

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and the ironically titled What could possibly go wrong by Jeremy Clarkson.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

As soon as you try control things around you, you lose control of the only thing you truly can influence, yourself. The last few years have been a roller coaster in business, and have taken their toll on many professionals I know. I was speaking to a mentor one day and he shared this piece of advice: "It’s all about focusing on what you can do, rather than what you can’t." Simple yet effective.

Professionally, who do you admire most?

Ivan Epstein, the CEO of the Sage AAMEA (Africa, Australia, Middle East and Asia) region. He was the little guy who played it big, and won. He’s built an incredible business over the years and he’s still as active as back in the day. He’s a true entrepreneur and for him no just simply isn’t an option.

How long have you been working in IT?

Eleven years now. I started on the project and consulting side and started the transition to sales and marketing six years ago.

Read more: CIO Upfront: Is your influence tool chest missing this effective approach?

If you weren't working in IT, what would you be doing?

I like to think I’d be a farmer, but I really enjoy working with people, so I’d have to say some form of role in marketing. Or maybe owning an outdoor goods store…

What was your first job?

IT projects co-ordinator.

What's the best thing about working with IT executives?

They’re innovative. Their job is to streamline, control and just do things better all round. Some of my most interesting conversations have been around ideas they’ve had for their organisations. So by nature, they have exciting ideas and great energy when putting these across.

What is the worst?

Read more: A CIO’s handbook: Planning for the long game

Google has all the answers …

Can you share one key pointer for keeping abreast of business technology trends?

The quickest and easiest is to find a tech publication or blog and subscribe to their news feed. These are normally condensed, so in a few minutes, you can go through all the headlines and pick an article or two to read through. The other great way is meeting IT executives and having discussions around innovation. It often happens that everyone brings different things to the meeting, so it’s a shortcut to learning about what’s important to people.

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