As a sports fanatic, Matthew Paull was naturally considering a career in the sector but following a series of injuries, he had to pivot his focus and undertook a role selling advertising space where he discovered a passion of customer contact and sales. He was exposed to the IT industry during his first role at Symantec and strives to make greater waves beyond his current Asia Pacific (APAC) remit as vice president of channels and alliances for Netskope.
What was your first job?
I have learnt to earn my keep from a young age. I had a paper route at 12 and then started combining my passion for sport with work. While studying, I worked at Rebel Sport for three years and then became a personal trainer for four years.
As a sports fanatic, I was training a lot and naturally considering a career in the sector, but a series of injuries I never really recovered from put a stop to that ambition.
The first “real” job after I graduated that put me on the rails for a career in IT was selling advertising space for an IT and technology publishing group. Through my early experiences, I already knew I had a natural disposition for contact with customers and sales and this job was the confirmation of that.
How did you get started in the IT industry and progress to where you are today?
I grew up in and around the tech space and have always had a passion for technology. My father, who worked in the tech space for more than 40 years for companies such as Adobe, Oracle, Apple, Autodesk and Macromedia, used to take me on business trips around the world when I was a teenager.
I would be at Adobe’s sales kick-offs in Las Vegas and the likes and therefore from a young age, I submersed myself into the industry, starting to build my network, learning about companies, technologies and how they changed the way we do things today.
After my first job selling ads, I landed a job at Symantec, which was the perfect place for me to learn, develop and hone my skills. I was fortunate to have some great managers and mentors who put their trust in me and helped me grow. I ended up moving across to the channel department and this is how I started my journey into channel.
I was fortunate enough to pick the right companies at the right time when they were going through episodes of fast growth, whether at previous companies and now Netskope.
What has been your biggest business mistake and the lessons you’ve learnt from that experience?
I can’t think of significant business mistakes. I feel I have been pretty lucky so far and have been well-mentored from a young age, which has helped me avoid making big mistakes.
There have been some missed opportunities though that could have taken my career in a different direction.
I have been offered a leadership role in direct sales and a global role in the US that I have both turned down. I wonder what my career would be like if I had taken these roles, but it’s never too late and that ambition is still intact.
What are some of your plans for Netskope in the coming months?
Netskope can’t be successful in APAC without our partners and they are integral to our growth. We've made investments and commitments to a smaller subset of "focus" partners who we are aligning to and driving our go-to-market business.
My strategy is to lean into those partners who want to invest and build a business around Netskope. We want our channel partners to be a true extension of the Netskope business.
Netskope has become a large player in cyber security, but not too large. I thrive in organisations that are going through fast-growth but gives me the ability to think out of the box and have a measurable and significant impact on the business’ growth. My objective is to continue shaping our channel strategy in APAC as long as I have the feeling we are having an impact and can do so creatively.
What are some of your ambitions?
Professionally, I have a long-term goal to take on a global channel role, ideally involving a move to the US. North America is an exciting region for any IT professional who wants to work with the best in their fields and I’m keen to develop my network and experience there.
In the short-term, a natural evolution for me would be to move into a regional leadership role, with responsibility across all levels of business for the APAC/Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region.
At a personal level, I’m very family driven, so my number one priority is to be a good father to my kids, support them and hopefully set them up to be successful. I’m also still a sports fanatic and my personal bucket list is very much centred around it. I never hesitate to travel the world to live and attend the most unique sports experiences and events in the world.
What has been the best piece of advice you received?
My father told me at a young age about the importance of building my network and learning everything I can from the people I met. I have applied this advice all my life and I now have a very strong network of people built over the past 12 years, including some who were instrumental in my career growth and building my skills.
I also read Michael Jordan’s book when I was young and his motto “You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take” is one that really resonates with me. When an opportunity arises, you’d more often have to talk me out of it than convince me to seize it. I’m an instinctive person and never shy away from taking risks and this philosophy has always brought me positive things.