5 mins with: Biagio LaRosa, MD of Generation-e

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This article appeared in the September issue of CRN magazine.

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5 mins with: Biagio LaRosa, MD of Generation-e

How would you describe Generation-e?

The company is a network integrator focused on unified communications infrastructure and service.

Who started the company?

The company was founded by myself and my wife back in 2003.

How did you get involved in the IT market?

There's no real money or job prospect in my applied physics degree from RMIT, so I turned to optics fibre and then communication about 20 years ago.

Why did you start your own company?

Before Generation-e I was the regional director for Extreme Networks. I spent three quarters of my time away from my family and I realised I had to get out of it.

How much travelling have you done during your time in IT?

I have a frequent flyer wall of shame. 

You were in the US during the 2001 terrorist attacks. Can you describe what that was like?

I was on my way home from Atlanta, Georgia when all flights were grounded and all lines of communication were down. There was no way to get in touch with my family. I think it was more traumatic for them at the time because they didn't know what was going on.

Was there any way out of Atlanta for you?

Two clients and I decided to drive across the country to California to fly out to Australia.

It sounds like you had an interesting time?

It was interesting being able to see the US. The clients spent all that time eating nothing but beef jerky.

What did you take away from that experience?

I learnt about survival instinct and not panicking when you are being physically threatened. You have to create your own destiny and a strong commitment to surviving the situation you're in.

Did you make any life-changing decisions?

I decided to get out of the amount of travelling I was doing. I resigned from Extreme Networks and took my wife and kids to Europe and wandered around for six months. As long as we were travelling together we were going to make the relationship work and not break it. 

Are there any other countries that stand out in your mind?

Taiwan is a fantastic country full of people who know how to have fun. They love to take Westerners to interesting dinners like snake meals - which was a lot of fun. 

You've got an interesting name. How has it served you in IT?

There've been times when I wished I was John Smith working for IBM. But my name is a great name and it's memorable, which doesn't hurt in our industry. 

Tell us about your other career while you were in high school?

My best friend and I decided to become DJs. We called ourselves Mr X mobile disco and now that has been relegated to history. 

Did the DJ thing last for long?

We did it for a couple of years, long enough to realise we weren't going to meet girls. 

How do you relax with your family?

I've got two boys aged ten and thirteen. I've been terrible at balancing work and family so recently I scheduled into my diary a half-hour slot a day each where the boys can do whatever they want. It's been really good; at first I was nervous but I've been having a great time just sitting on the couch and talking to them.

What impact did your travelling and work have on your wife?

She's remarkably tolerant and we made an effort to go to social functions together. She recently moved out of Generation-e to follow her film career and focus on filmmaking. She's been involved in the making of a documentary about the Melbourne Cup. She's been trying to get her own films off the ground. 

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