'Reputation is crucial'

'Reputation is crucial'

Paul Muckleston, the new MD of Microsoft, on the nuances of working in New Zealand with its 'two to three degrees of separation'.

Paul Muckleston

Managing director, Microsoft New Zealand Where were you educated?

I went to 12 different schools in Australia and New Zealand – my parents managed hotels for the old Tourist Hotel Corporation, meaning we lived in some stunning locations like Queenstown, Waitomo Caves and Lake Taupo. We moved back to Auckland partway through the fifth form and I went to Lynfield College, then later AUT, Unitec and Massey University.

Where do you live? We live in Herne Bay and were lucky enough to buy a small bach at Piha before we returned to New Zealand last year.

Are you married? Kids?

I’ve been married to Maritza for 12 years, a doctor who is completing her specialist training and we have two children — Jackson (6) and Zara (3).

What are your interests outside work?

My family is number one priority. Outside of that I enjoy good wine and food with good friends, followed by outdoor sports. I love offroad running races, and I’m training for the Auckland marathon and learning (slowly) to surf at Piha.

What are you reading at the moment?

Just finished Ian M. Banks Matter and A.S. Byatt The Children’s Book,, in addition to local media and tech publications I enjoy reading the New York Times online, Monocle and Vanity Fair.

Professionally, who do you admire most? It sounds cheesy – but having worked at Microsoft for a long time, I admire both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer for their personal and professional agility in scaling as leaders from a small business with 10 staff to a successful global enterprise with over 90,000 employees. I also admire their passion and dedication to the business and the strength of their personal values which have infused the culture of Microsoft. Early in my career I was lucky to work with Matt Keneally (co-founder of Axon) and Geoff Lawrie (past MD of Microsoft NZ and current country manager of Cisco NZ) who pushed me to develop and took some risks by betting on me.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! i.e. it’s often through adversity and failure that you learn the most.

A lesson you’ve never forgotten? Taking people with you is more important to getting the ‘win’ or the short-term outcome. If you can’t take people with you, you can never scale and even though you may be successful in the short term, when adversity strikes, you can only survive with the support of others and a strong team around you of committed people.

How long have you been working in IT?

Twenty two years. I must be old!

What was your first job?

I started as a telecommunications technician at Telecom – I was a very average technician and figured out I was much better suited to sales, marketing and management.

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

Typically smart, sharp and no nonsense – very pragmatic and can easily see through anything that’s not fully baked!

What is the worst?

Typically smart, sharp and no nonsense – very pragmatic and can easily see through anything that’s not fully baked! IT executives keep you honest, which makes you better!

What is your favourite networking situation?

The likes of Trans-Tasman Business Circle and the Hugo Group are great ways to connect with senior executives which you can then develop deeper relationships with one to one. The other thing is that we’re only two to three degrees of separation in New Zealand, so you generally will know someone who can introduce you. It also means your reputation is crucial – in a small market once you get a bad reputation it’s very hard to change it.

What will you do when you retire?

When I was 20 I said I’d retire by 40, now I’m 42, 60 looks good… my mother worked until she was 83 years old. Working keeps you sharp, I don’t intend to ever fully retire, but would like a different work-life balance in 10 to 15 years that provides more time for other projects and personal travel.

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Tags Microsoftpaul mucklestonkevin ackhurst

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