It may have been a long and winding road to get there, but for Deidre Steyn, the technology industry was always going to be a natural fit for her talents.
It all started with a commerce degree directly after school; coming from a family which operates several companies, business was in her blood from an early age.
Today, as general manager of ICONZ-Webvisions, Steyn says she has found her niche with a combination of business and technology which keeps her interested.
“I’ve always been into business and I’ve always had an interest in the technical side of things owing to a family background of owning factories,” she relates.
“After studying at the University of Johannesburg and starting my career in a structural engineering company, I took a gap year to London.”
Unlike most on their OE, Steyn avoided ‘en passant’ jobs in pubs and restaurants, preferring more prosaic employment at a Kiwi company which distributed childrenswear.
From there, it was back to South Africa and a senior consulting role in the financial services industry – until a life changing event. “That was an armed robbery in my home, which prompted the move to New Zealand,” Steyn recalls.
Initially working again in engineering, she soon took her first foray into the IT world. “That’s when I finally found the niche that I’m passionate about.
"What I love about it is the pace of the market, it constantly changes and there is always something new to learn.”
Working at distributor MPA, Steyn quickly brought her business acumen to bear, appreciating that in order to add value and stand out in the market, it was necessary to go beyond moving stock.
“Positioning the business better meant changing it to become a consultancy and that meant making experts of the salespeople in specific competencies, such as security, infrastructure and server-based computing,” she says.
With that strategic approach, she was soon second in charge and takes credit for growing MPA substantially during her tenure.
Such a meteoric entry into the IT industry soon caught the notice of other companies, and ICONZ presented Steyn with an enticing opportunity.
“ICONZ had been around as a local ISP for some 20 years and had recently acquired Webvisions, which operates in the broader Asia Pacific marketplace.
"While it had this acquisition, nothing much was done with it yet, so I came on to integrate the companies and drive the business further,” she says.
Regardless of vertical industry, Steyn makes the point that business basics are transversal.
“Putting ICONZ-Webvisions together meant analyzing the companies and focusing in on our competencies and where we can add value. As a result, the first steps were a product and service rationalisation to build a clear value proposition.”
Quickly ascending to the General Manager position on the basis of her clear strategic thinking, today ICONZ-Webvisions is a cloud infrastructure specialist operating across six countries.
“When I started, we did everything. Now, we do infrastructure, but we do it extremely well, as a customer-focused Kiwi-owned business which delivers local support,” says Steyn.
The secret to success, she says, is to know one’s strengths and to hire the best experts for everything else. “I provide the vision, the experts tell me if it is doable.”
Outside of office, Steyn has an affinity for travel and fitness.
“I love seeing the world and have an insatiable need to see and experience as much as possible and do something different wherever I go. I’ve got a bucket list…and one item is [surfing spectacular] Pipe Masters in Hawaii. I’ll be there in December…”