Paul Land has joined Vianet in a senior position – Business Development Director – but not before he made absolutely sure that the move was the right one, at the right time.
Paul comes to vending from events industry player Tappit, in which he sold cashless payment solutions to festivals, beach clubs and stadia – not least at the home of the Premiership champions, the Etihad in Manchester. Then came COVID and Paul confesses that the global curtailment of every kind of social engagement left him – and the rest of the events world – feeling vulnerable.
So, the call about the opportunity at Vianet was perfectly timed.
‘I spoke to Mark Parry about Vianet and the position they needed to fill and we got on so well, from the first minute, that it felt right for me to explore the possibilities’, Paul said. ‘With each team member I met subsequently, I was increasingly convinced that the job would be the perfect fit for me, from both a business and a cultural perspective. I found the atmosphere in the business was supportive, and the corporate focus was on the customer base and on constant improvement.
‘It was clear that Vianet was looking to recruit people for the long term, people who would go the distance’, Paul said. ‘That appealed to me and what’s more, I was impressed with the Smart Machines model. There was a new team in place, being built from the ground up; so, in that respect, it was like a start-up business. At Tappit I was ‘chasing the sun’, if you like, managing projects and people all over the world from the UK to Bali. Vianet is obviously a much more mature business, but I have the same pioneering aspirations in my new job.’
Paul may be new to vending, but amongst his closest friends are Simon Wilkes and Stuart Worth and the Wilkes family knows a thing or two about the business. His friends assured him not only that Vianet would be a good move for him personally, but also that he’d enjoy the vending industry’s singular environment.
At 37, Paul found himself thinking about the future; about where he’d be 20 years down the road. ‘I have a wife, Catherine, and there’s Caleb, our 6-year-old son. Taking all these factors into consideration, I decided then that I wanted to play a long-term role in building Vianet.’
Prior to Tappit, Paul worked for a company that created Asset Management software, before that he was Business Strategy Manager at consumer electronics giant, Sharp. It’s a CV that, at a glance, seems relatively uncoordinated and random. Paul laughs at that: ‘There is no synergy at all on the face of it’, he says, ‘but at Vianet, all the experiences I have in the bank will come into play, from cashless to ERP to hardware. I feel as though the sum of my past has opened the door to my future, providing me with all the resources I need to make a substantial contribution here.’
At the end of his first week in the business, Paul sent out an e-mail to his new colleagues to thank them. ‘I’ve never done that before’, he says. ‘From the CEO to the people in marketing, finance, product – you name it – everyone was exceptionally welcoming and encouraging. I felt ‘at home’ immediately.’
As Business Development Director, Paul’s mission is to deliver the Smart Machines strategy alongside Mark. Paul will manage Vianet’s dynamic Business Development team, focussing on increasing market share by working closely with existing clients to understand their needs. He’ll also be monitoring the competition, to ensure that Vianet stays ahead of the game.
‘It’s an exciting time for all of us’, Paul says. ‘We have some important new products coming soon, including Smart Contact Pro. There’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’, so we’ll be taking a consultative approach, concentrating on how a product’s features can deliver substantial benefits and greater efficiencies. Every operator has a unique approach to vending, so every presentation we make will be specifically tailored, rather than sold off the peg, ready to wear.’
Paul’s initial task was to fine-tune the structure of his department, ensuring that all the tools required to deliver were in place. ‘That’s done now’, Paul says, ‘we’ve got the right team in place and we’re good to go.’
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