Aside from his role as the director of partnerships and alliances across APAC for conversational AI and automation platform, Amelia, you might find Samuel La Macchia using his musical talent at a wedding or a corporate gig. He first started his career in hospitality before finding his way into partner land and ending up at Amelia, which is in the midst of ramping up its support for local and regional partners.
What was your first job?
I started out studying computer science at university with the intention of working in the technology field but pivoted to the humanities pretty quickly because I hated maths. During those years, I supported myself by working in the hospitality industry, doing everything from food and beverage to desk services – the whole kit and caboodle of frontline service delivery in a five-star hotel chain setting.
A general service mindset – anticipating customer expectations, providing prompt service, and treating customers, colleagues and suppliers with respect – was probably the most important thing I took away from my time there. Thinking that way reflectively has been beneficial to me in my subsequent ICT career.
These days, companies realise customer experience matters, because loyalty, brand awareness and the way you make people feel are the core pillars that drive customer retention and growth. If you’re not seeking to leave a memorable imprint by thinking a step or two steps ahead in anticipating customer needs and fulfilling expectations of the job to be done, you risk losing out to more customer-centric competitors.
How did you get started in the IT industry and progress to where you are today?
My entry into the technology sphere came in 2006 when someone connected me with the founder of a mid-sized VAR who was looking for a marketing resource to get things moving there. My next role was also in partner land and then, in 2009, I shifted lanes to that of the ISV world, taking up an inside sales role with Interactive Intelligence.
After establishing a successful track record in the role and helping build out the local inside sales team, I moved into the alliances and partnerships space, with a remit to expand the company’s market presence and reach by pursuing engagements with global systems Integrators and the big consulting and strategy houses.
We had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time: with the GFC unfolding, businesses were most receptive to the value proposition of an all-in-one cloud contact centre model offered.
Interactive Intelligence rode that wave and my role was able to grow apace. The company was acquired by Genesys in 2016 and I stuck around until 2021, helping extend that muscle beyond Australia and New Zealand before taking a redundancy during Covid. Having a career break allowed me to spend some special time with my young family before diving back into the fray with Amelia in mid-2023.
What has been your biggest business mistake, and the lessons you’ve learnt from that experience?
Understanding how to prioritise programs and tasks so you deliver optimal value for the business is something most of us learn on the job, and very often it’s by trial and error. It’s easy to fall into the trap of expending a large amount of effort on initiatives that have a longer runway than other stakeholders expect or want. Every organisation and cultural mindset is different and you need to be able to read the room.
I was given a fair amount of autonomy and latitude around how I allocated my time and resources in some of my earlier roles so I didn’t necessarily appreciate the importance of doing this well until I found myself working for a larger, more established firm.
It was heavily oriented around quarterly performance reporting and I quickly realised I had to get better at the balancing act – splitting my efforts between quick wins and longer-term initiatives that aligned with the company’s strategic goals.
What are some of your plans for the company in the coming months?
Amelia is in a fortunate place right now. There’s a tsunami of ‘noise’ around all things artificial intelligence, against the backdrop of a changing economic and political world post-COVID.
We’re well positioned to capitalise on that interest and intend to do so by leveraging our library of customer success stories, advanced technology in conversational AI and AIOps, and demonstrated expertise.
In the upcoming year, the company will be ramping up its support for local and regional partners; making the necessary investment to amplify their go-to-market and delivery efforts in driving successful outcomes across key industries, anchored by Amelia’s advanced AI solutions.
I’ll be working closely with the rest of the regional team to build out a partner-centric sales, delivery and value realisation engine that is obsessed with customer success.
We’ll be looking to align our ecosystem of partners with specific markets and industry segments so we can undertake more targeted co-marketing and business development activities together. Expanding our umbrella of alliance partners that embraces advisory houses, be they boutique or global in reach, is also on the agenda.
What are some of your biggest ambitions, personally and professionally?
Professionally, I want to see Amelia and its partners thrive in this part of the world and be part of their success story. Helping the pool of ecosystem partners realise new value opportunities and cement their place in a burgeoning AI-fuelled market will be my focus over the next couple of years.
On the personal front, I’m a hack session musician and would like to further develop my jazz keyboard chops. I was in a group in my youth and still play the odd gig here and there – weddings, corporate gigs and the like.
With three small children, spare time is at a premium, but I want to carve out a few more hours to dedicate to music and, hopefully, also be able to pass my passion for the creative arts on to them too. Having a creative pursuit is a wonderful outlet and I believe it encourages you to think more laterally too.
What has been the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
It’s far from new: the golden rule that you should ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ has been around for more than 2,000 years.
It still holds true though, in all aspects of life. I’m constantly seeing the positive effects that flow from putting it into practice.
Trust is the ultimate currency – it underpins everything important in life, both personally and professionally.
Having people feel they can reach out to me for help, and vice versa, even if we haven’t been in touch or connected for an extended period of time, is rewarding and enriching.
On the career front more specifically, ‘maintain your curiosity’ is excellent advice, especially if you work in tech. Timelines are so compressed and things move so fast that you won’t keep up otherwise.