Alumni of The Icehouse Andrea Smith to lead South Island

Posted by Kate De Lautour on 8/05/2024 12:05:56 PM

South Island business owners are set to benefit from a sales and tech guru taking the reins for The Icehouse in the South Island.

Andrea Smith, a former director of IT stalwarts Focus Technology Group, is building on her 30 years of experience in sales and management across Southland, Otago, and Canterbury to bring The Icehouse to regional South Island.

Andrea Smith

It was still a man’s world when Andrea snapped up an Invercargill-based sales job at Fuji Xerox in the 90’s.

“Men sold the high-end equipment and women sold the paper to go in it, that was just the way it was, but I wasn’t going to settle for that.”

Andrea was fortunate to have a manager who was prepared to develop her sales skills and she set about building strong relationships with Southland business owners, selling high-end solutions before moving into a role at Telecom and being at the forefront of improving the mobile network build in Southland.

“We had to work hard to get the momentum going so the network part of Telecom would commit to building the mobile towers. Southland’s mobile coverage was particularly bad and many transport companies moving from farm to farm needed to be able to make calls without having those calls continually dropping off because there was no coverage.”

Creating change and making a difference for local business owners has always been her number one driver, Andrea says.

“When I first started at Telecom Theresa Gattung was the CEO and it was great to have that can-do leadership. I think the real beauty of it was when I asked if she could come down and meet the regional leaders in Southland - she said yes, she came, and she listened - no one from the senior executive level had ever done that before, that we knew of. We lived and breathed Telecom to get things happening for our region and we really did make a difference because we got the network expanded, through a lot of politics and tenacity.

When you are a regional player, you have to convince the big guns that the regions are really important and yes they know that, but they often forget to listen. The regions contribute so much to the national GDP – we are the voice of business.”

Andrea moved into Focus Technology Group at a time when the business owners were dealing with a rapid rate of change in IT and growth. Her skills as an IT translator made her relatable to owners and she went on to become an owner and director of the business.

“I was the first account manager for Focus and I was a bit of a catalyst for change for them. When I started at Focus there were 20 staff with two branches in Invercargill and Queenstown and now there are now over 75 staff and seven branches in each of the regions in the lower South Island including Canterbury.”

Now based in Christchurch, Andrea spent the last 10 years as a shareholder and director of Focus and has continued to be a strong leader and positive role model for women in executive roles in the IT industry.

Andrea sold her shareholding in Focus at a time in her life when many might look to ease up on the work challenges.

“There is still so much that I want to do and being a director on a board carrying on doing what I’ve always done wasn’t enough – it’s very important for me to make a difference. I feel that I’m going into a new phase of my career and I want to be the representative for people who want to make change in their businesses but don’t know how to make change – they need help identifying how to make those changes and that’s where I can help.”

Andrea is Icehouse alumni having completed the flagship Owner Manager Programme in 2023.

“I had worked my way up in the business world but I had never had any ownership training and I felt that the Icehouse would build my confidence in areas where I thought I was weak, and it did give me that and a lot more, particularly developing a wider network.”

Now Andrea says she is enjoying being face-to-face, working with business owners.

“As you go up the ranks you are managing people and I’ve missed being active out in the community – I don’t want to be sitting in an office for days on end. I’m looking forward to being back working throughout the South Island giving business owners a voice through The Icehouse network.”



Keen to connect with Andrea? You can email her here:

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