Get to know: Keith Rich

Keith Rich is a 25-year veteran of the Middle East. He moved to Saudi Arabia in 1981 before relocating to Dubai with the NFC Corporation in 1988. Five years after that he started networking outfit Online Distribution on behalf of its partners. Channel Middle East thought it was about time to "get to know" Keith Rich...

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By  Administrator Published  February 1, 2007

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

I started my career, in sales, way back in 1978. I held several positions from showroom sales to regional representative and learnt a tremendous amount from each of them. The late seventies and early eighties was not a particularly good time in the UK economically — with labour strikes and three-day working weeks — which was frustrating. When I was offered the chance to join an old boss in Saudi Arabia in 1981 I jumped at the opportunity.

What do you enjoy most about working in the Middle East IT market?

Having been here for 25 years, I enjoy the fact that I have always been busy. The main reason for leaving the UK back in 1981 was because other people played a large part in how successful you could or could not be. Hard work is a great equaliser here — the sky, literally, is the limit if you are prepared to put in the effort. It is also a great opportunity to work with a diverse cross section of people — this makes you receptive to new ways of working and the osmosis is energising.

What do you dislike most about working in the Middle East IT market?

I don’t think this is unique to the IT industry, but I have found it frustrating in the “value” people attribute to a working relationship. People say they “are partnering” with people but do not place the value truly required to justify the term partnering. Loyalty, they say, is worth 0.25%! This is changing — slowly — as the IT market matures.

How do you like to relax outside of the work environment?

Spending time with my best friend — my wife Helena. And when she is busy I play golf!

What is the proudest moment of your career?

Several career highlights spring to mind and it all revolves around the people that I have worked with at Online Distribution over the years. Many of them have done very well in their careers and gone up the career ladder and seeing them grow has been hugely rewarding. Some of them have made their mark elsewhere and this has also given me great pleasure.

What are your top channel tips for 2007?

Number one is to establish long-term relationships built on mutual trust and respect. It will pay in the long run. The second is to always look ahead and don’t be afraid to be an “early adopter” of technology. There are people out there to help you if you decide to run “ahead of the pack”. Thirdly, look after your people because if you don’t someone else will.

What is the most valuable business lesson you’ve learnt?

You are only as good as the people you work with! An old cliché but I have found it to be so true time and time again. Most of the people I work with will tell you it is a bit of a mantra of mine and they are probably sick and tired of hearing it. So, one more time for my colleagues, “you are only as good as the people you work with!”

Which IT industry figure do you most admire and why?

I am not generally enamoured by fame or celebrity. So no one springs to mind. If I had to name someone it would have to be for their philanthropic acts and, top of that list, has to be Bill Gates.

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