Get to know

Graham Porter, Channel Manager, Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan, Netapp

Tags: NetApp
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Get to know
By  Manda Banda Published  June 30, 2015

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

Having grown up in Bahrain in the 1970s, I am the proverbial “returning expat brat”. I’ve been in Dubai the last 16 years, and was in Saudi Arabia for five years prior to that. In 1984 I joined IBM, the rest as they say, is history, and has led me to sales, channel and marketing roles in the region for companies including HP, Sun, Cisco and now NetApp.

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

I think vendors and partners alike struggle with “what’s my value” or “why do I do this”, and communicating this to their clients. Many find it hard to adjust in a changing technology market. I frequently talk about finance – not product cost or price in the market, but a company’s research and development (R&D) spend, and profitability, without which they are dead in the water.

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

The hot stuff right now is converged or integrated stack, flash and our latest OS clustered data ONTAP, which allows to virtualise storage and move data between public and private clouds.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

Meeting Queen Rania of Jordan when I represented HP was pretty special.  Other than that, I think keeping your reputation intact is the biggest thing. I seem to have done ok on that score.

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

The best piece of advice I have received is:  “Learn your lines and don’t bump into the furniture”.

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

I had an interview with Dell over 15 years ago and when the interviewer asked me if I was too young for a senior role, I told him I was older than Michael Dell. He didn’t appreciate my answer.

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

Google Projects is really out there in terms of innovation. I think the philosophy and range of interests they have is stunning. Elon Musk is pushing the boundaries with Tesla. And anything Scott McNealy (ex-Sun CEO) does always makes me smile.

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

What’s your ‘why’? Can you explain it to your parents, for example? If you can’t explain it simply, you probably don’t have a ‘why’ and business will be tough.

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

I love my boss and I can’t wait to hear what he says to me when he reads this interview. The culture at NetApp allows me to be myself and speak like this.

What sort of interests do you have outside of work?

Most of my time outside of work is spent with my family. My daughter is at university and my son will go soon. My wife is replacing their presence with two dachshund dogs. Riding horses helps me unwind as you can’t be thinking about that last email at work when you are persuading a large animal.

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