Get to know: Leon Gifford

Most channel partners still rely on the investment strategy of the brand to deliver value to their clients, rather than creating their own value.

Tags: Toshiba Corporation
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Get to know: Leon Gifford
By  Manda Banda Published  October 5, 2013

Most channel partners still rely on the investment strategy of the brand to deliver value to their clients, rather than creating their own value.

Leon Gifford, Head of Retail Business – Middle East & South Africa, Toshiba Gulf FZE

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

I came over to the UAE in January 2000 to visit my family, initially for a holiday, which turned into a 13 year venture for me. For my first five years in the UAE, I worked for Targus heading up the Middle East operation. For the last eight years, I have been working at Toshiba taking on various roles within the organisation.

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

The intrusion of grey market products or parallel imports is a usual issue that most brands face within the channel. However, Toshiba has managed to curb this issue through effective channel programmes and strong engagement practices with key channel partners. In addition, channel partners in the Middle East need to do more to deliver value to their end customers.

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

It’s all about consumption these days. It is clear that cloud technology is moving at a rapid pace in terms of consumer adoption. Globally and within the Middle East, most PC, media and storage companies offer some sort of cloud service or capability bundled with their hardware. Over and above cloud computing, detachable and convertible PC’s will be a buzz.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

The UAE market is a battleground for all PC manufacturers. Being part of the team that took Toshiba to the number one position in the UAE market in 2012 was a major achievement for myself and the team.

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

It’s not a piece of advice given to me, but something I read: “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” – Red Adair

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

My team and I concluded a volume deal on hard drives with one of the key retailers. The product positioning was wrong, but despite the error, it influenced the successful launch of Toshiba hard drives in the ME region.

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

It has to be Intel because of the investments in R&D and constant innovation. Without this constant innovation over the years, we wouldn’t have seen such a major evolution in personal computing.

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

Most channel partners in the region still rely on the investment strategy of the brand to deliver value to their customers, rather than creating the value proposition of their own. This creates price erosion across a given segment, as partners fight for market share purely on price.

What do you like best about the company you work for?

I love the fact that Toshiba is investing in the future. Toshiba continues to invest in R&D and social infrastructure which covers a broad spectrum of technologies and products.

What sort of interests do you have outside of work?

I am a strong believer in ensuring a decent work life balance, so outside of work I enjoy participating in various sporting activities.

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