'Personal growth is just important as business growth': Rackspace's Angela Logan-Bell

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This article appeared in the January February 2020 issue of CRN magazine.

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'Personal growth is just important as business growth': Rackspace's Angela Logan-Bell
Angela Logan-Bell

Following a 19-year career in distribution, Angela Logan-Bell decided it was time for a change and decided to jump headfirst into the world of cloud. The change came at an interesting time as Rackspace had just pivoted its local business towards managed public clouds.

Journey

I’d been in distribution for 19 years and an opportunity came to try something different, so I thought it was probably time to spread my wings a little bit. I actually decided to reskill in the world of cloud.

I spent just shy of a couple of years at Optus Business as a cloud specialist, going to customers about what cloud means to their business. I knew that wasn't a long term concern, but it gave me the ability to pivot my career into a very fast growing part of the market, and that happened to be with cloud and Rackspace leveraging my heritage with vendor management. It looked like a really exciting role that offered me a whole bunch of opportunities where I could apply some of my knowledge and experience with my newly acquired cloud credentials.

Channel mix

In the US, we have a large channel business in that we have resale partners that we work with that could be the equivalent to a Harvey Norman, that sort style organisation in the US where they go to market with electronics group. They might have a corporate division but they don't want to develop their own private cloud and hire for all the skills.

That’s quite a reasonably sized business in the US, but it hasn't been as big in Australia because of our heritage largely being a hosting provider for small businesses. Where we're focusing at the moment is predominantly commercial, as in not government in any large capacity, but we are looking to change that.

We are looking to drive public cloud further into government because of our experience and capability in private cloud. We tend to target the top end of SMBs, so more the M than the S, and the lower end of enterprise. We tend not to butt heads with the very large integrators or the Deloittes and so forth, we tend to fall just under them. So if we looked at the ASX, probably the ASX 200 and below is where we would target.

Rackspace Australia started as predominately hosting for a raft of different organisations, but we obviously saw the need to mature and go up the stack in terms of both our expertise and experience, but also the kinds of customers we sell to.

Pivoting from just supporting Rackspace solutions to managed public cloud has been a massive focus for us in region and we actually lead the world in Australia in terms of adoption of public cloud for Rackspace. We now in Australia sell more public cloud than our traditional products, solutions and services, so that's well ahead of the US.

In terms of who we compete with, we actually never really did a great job of competing against the big guys. But we see that there's so much competition at the high end with the Accentures and Deloittes of the world and the number of acquisitions they continue to make. We tend to go in from the point of where our strengths lie, and where that lines up best with the kinds of customers that we've got to work with so that we both get a mutual beneficial experience. We’re quite specific about who we work with.

Goals

We would dearly love to double our managed public cloud business this year, which is very aggressive, but we want to grow at market rate or above, so we want to take a share from our competitors. If we fall below the growth rate of the partners then we’re not succeeding.

The other key thing this year is standing up our New Zealand business, which has been running out of Australia up until now.

The overall sale numbers across the business, the growth is not quite as aggressive. Obviously with private cloud, customers continue migrating to public cloud, so we see a little bit of attrition from one consumption type to another but we’d rather keep the customer and keep them working with us and worry about what platform they’re on.

Individual transformation

A lot of the people I work with today, I've worked with in the past. So it’s important to focus not only on the ability to transform the businesses that we work in, but also transform as individuals and our skill sets, knowledge and capability.

Individual personal transformation is just as important for everyone as much as the organisation’s transformation. Just on a professional level, the speed in which we work at in general in the industry is very high velocity. But cloud is just on another level than anything I’ve ever experienced. All organisations compare notes about the expectations on us, the need to keep up and the trend cycle.

The change is constant and what is relevant today will be irrelevant, potentially in three months. That change cycle just continues to shorten and shorten and the expectations are super high. So your adaptability again is absolutely key, but also your energy needs to be very high and you need to look after yourself personally so you can maintain that kind of energy. I've had numerous conversations with counterparts at organisations and we all agree that it’s very demanding, but also very rewarding.

We are absolutely hiring, we’re expanding and we’re investing. We feel there’s a real space in the market for what we offer and deliver. There’s a lot of niche and boutique organiastions that we often compete with like Servian and Versent who are doing incredible work. We are a little bit more generic in a sense that we have more to offer our customers rather than two or three key areas. We do try and focus on the areas we want to move but having said that, we believe there’s a huge part of the market that need a partner like Rackspace.

It’s getting to the point where customers are even moving faster than partners. Customers are wanting new stuff faster and faster and they’re demanding more of us and our partners, so the big thing for us is to invest in our business so we can meet those expectations.

Resume

1997 – 2007 – National licensing & software business unit manager, Ingram Micro

Jan 2008 – Jul 2014 – national manager – business development, Express Data

Jul 2014 – Jul 2016 – State manager – VIC/TAS, Cisco & key accounts, Dicker Data

Sep 2016 – May 2018 – Cloud specialist, Optus Business

Jun 2018 – present – Partner & alliances manager, Rackspace

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