Get to know: George Debono

The challenges are many and varied. I guess the biggest one is unavailability of skilled resources.

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Get to know: George Debono
By  Manda Banda Published  March 31, 2013

The challenges are many and varied. I guess the biggest one is unavailability of skilled resources.

George Debono, General Manager, Middle East & Africa, Red Hat

What’s your career history to date? How did you end up working in Dubai?

I joined Red Hat in 2005. In my seven years with the company I’ve held a number of senior sales and operations roles and now lead Red Hat’s business in the Middle East and Africa. Prior to Red Hat I was with Sun Microsystems for five years in sales and sales management. This was after my stint with CA where I worked for around nine and a half years again in sales and sales management. Before that I was a techie after a career change from being a musician. So it’s been an interesting journey.

If you could improve one thing about the channel business what would it be?

That’s a hard one, not because the channel business is perfect or imperfect, but rather that it tends to float between the two and what tends to work in one economy or country, doesn’t work in another, and what one partner is capable of, others aren’t. However, if I had to make one comment it would be forecasting.

What product or technology should the channel watch out for this year?

Storage management I think will be the new hot topic as far as technology goes. Customers are getting tired of the same old answers here, and want some really different options.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

There are many achievements that I am proud of, but I hope the one you are referring to is still in front of me.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

On the sales side it is “close early and often”, or “it is ok to win a deal on your own, but never lose it on your own”. As a manager it is always best to employ people that are “smarter” than you or can teach you something.

What is the biggest mistake you have ever made since working in the IT market?

Tough – but I lost a deal on my own that I shouldn’t have. I thought I had the bases covered but I didn’t. Had I brought another pair of eyes or ears into it, things may have been different.  It’s only a mistake if you don’t use it as a learning mistake – I’m pleased to say I’ve never made that mistake again.

Which IT company, other than your own, do you most admire and why?

I like Apple because their stuff just works, but they are more a consumer technology company than a corporate IT player.

What is the biggest challenge facing the Middle East IT channel?

The challenges are many and varied. I guess the biggest one is unavailability of skilled resources. The big challenges that existed for our partners three years ago, don’t exist today. Three years back, our biggest challenge was convincing prospects that open-source was the right technology. That’s gone away.

What’s your favourite thing about the company you work for at the moment?

It is truly the people I get to work with and interact with on a day to day basis. The fact that everyday is a new adventure helps.

What sort of interests do you have outside of work?

I have always been a workaholic, and I have become more of one in this role based on the circumstances. That said, if I have my music in the background, it does tend to keep me calmer. Overall, I do like to play golf.

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