NetSuite’s New APJ Sales Chief Discusses True Cloud, Big Plans for Asia

Posted by China Martens, Senior Writer, NetSuite

(L) Lee Thompson, SVP & GM, NetSuite APJ & (R) Reginald Singh, VP & GM, NetSuite Asia at the opening of the new NetSuite office in Singapore.

NetSuite continues to make significant investments around the world and Asia-Pacific is no exception where we are building on an established strong presence to meet the expanding needs of existing and future customers and partners in the region.

To that end, we’ve opened a brand-new Asia headquarters in Singapore, which played host in February to a special partner event - Suite Engage - where we brought in our channel partners from across the region. It’s all part of our mission to continue to spread the transformational power of the NetSuite cloud. We sat down with Lee Thompson, an Oracle and Salesforce veteran who was recently appointed to head up NetSuite’s region-wide sales operations in the role of NetSuite Senior Vice President & General Manager, Asia Pacific & Japan, to get his take on the region as a whole and future plans for NetSuite APJ. Lee is a no-nonsense, passionate executive who is keen to stress NetSuite’s excellent credentials as a ‘true cloud’ vendor and to draw a stark contrast between NetSuite and ‘fake cloud’ purveyors.

Lee’s more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry has taken him around the world, working in the UK, Canada and Sweden as well as many years spent in Australia and Singapore.

What attracted you to NetSuite?

Lee: Only a handful of business software vendors today are ‘true cloud,’ meaning that they provide customers with multi-tenancy, multiple upgrades, a single version of the truth and all the benefits of a single application instance. NetSuite has cloud in its DNA, it was born in the cloud, and it is a true cloud vendor, so joining the company was a natural choice for me.

One issue in today’s market is that non-cloud vendors like Microsoft and SAP are trying to present themselves as cloud vendors when what these legacy vendors are really talking about is hosting. They weren’t born cloud and we will continue to call them out on their cloud washing. By contrast, NetSuite is at the forefront of business technology and is the largest and fastest-growing cloud ERP vendor in the world with the opportunity now to move to the next level of market penetration in APJ. Where else would I honestly want to be? What a great opportunity!

What do you want customers, prospects and partners to know about NetSuite APJ?

Lee: NetSuite employs over 1,000 people in APJ - all of whom I’m responsible for. One of my aims will be to get the message out about what a substantial operation NetSuite already has in the region. We have presence not only in Australia and New Zealand, but also in Hong Kong, Japan, The Philippines and Singapore.

What will NetSuite in APJ look like in 2015?

Lee: In the coming year, NetSuite’s core focus in APJ will be continuing to invest in our existing partners and to attract new ones. For instance, we will host regular events like the Suite Engage partner forums, which are bi-annual gatherings that bring together NetSuite partners and NetSuite management from across APJ to share expert insight and innovation. NetSuite’s partner success translates into our customers’ success in the region, which is of primary importance to our business. We have a large number of customers such as M.Tech, Island Rose and Mayne Publications, that have come to us through our partners and we’re excited to bring on more happy customers through our partners this year.

Why has NetSuite chosen Singapore as the regional hub for its Asia operations?

Lee: Singapore is a relatively mature market in Asia when it comes to cloud adoption and utilisation, with government support for technological innovation making it the perfect location for NetSuite. Singapore is also a geographical gateway to Asia, where we plan to continue to grow our presence this year. We can’t hire staff fast enough to meet demand in this region. We’re always looking for results-driven, energetic people!

What do you think are NetSuite’s strengths in the APJ region?

Lee: We have a great product and a strong culture. There’s a lot of passion and energy among NetSuite APJ employees. Everyone wants to be successful and to contribute to NetSuite’s success and I want to preserve that passion. I think we’re also highly entrepreneurial so we are still very nimble and agile with a focus on decisions and strategies coming from the ground up rather than from the top down and that’s another strength I want to retain.

What’s it like to be an Aussie who’s spent most of his career working for Silicon Valley companies?

Lee: Australians have a great reputation globally. There aren’t many nationalities that can blend with multiple cultures so we’re very fortunate to have been born in the ‘lucky’ country. There are so many learnings and best practices to derive from the U.S., but at the same time it’s the ability to observe and respect the local cultures that is important.

What are some of your favorite places to travel to in the APJ region?

Lee: As you can imagine, I’ve travelled the APJ region and seen many places over the last decade. I established offices for previous employers in 30 cities in China and 17 cities in India so I certainly have an affinity for two of the largest economies in the world. It’s amazing seeing the emergence of these two very different countries and I look forward to seeing how this plays out in the next decade.

What are a few of the books that have impacted your approach to business and why?

Lee: I’d highlight two books in particular. I’d highly recommend ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey because it taught me life lessons. The one I like the most is Habit 5 which focuses on communication skills: ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’ I’m also still a big fan of ‘Crossing the Chasm’ by Geoffrey Moore. Although originally written in 1991 and then updated several times, the book and its conclusions are still current as they reflect ground-breaking strategies which are particularly relevant to disruptive technologies like cloud computing.

What are your hobbies and what do you do to relax?

Lee: I love to travel (just as well given my job!) and spend time with my family. My passion is cars – I’m currently restoring a 1969 Triumph Spitfire with my daughter - which has been an ‘interesting’ experience.

Finally, if our blog readers had a couple of days to spend in Sydney, where would you recommend visiting to get a flavor of the city?

Lee: There’s the usual sights. Sydney Harbour is breathtaking. Try climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Have dinner at Doyles Restaurant at Watson’s Bay. Visit a local pub, soak in the atmosphere and just talk with the folks there and listen to the Aussie accent - it’s quite unique!

 

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