Friday Five: IFS’s Rob Stummer


Every Friday we’ll profile a prominent figure from Australia’s IT, telecommunications or video gaming industries in the Friday Five.

Rob Stummer is the local managing director of enterprise applications group IFS. But he wasn’t always — it’s a little known fact that he used to be a PE teacher at Scotch College. We’re not sure yet which job is harder — but in any case, he’s this week’s guest on the Friday Five.

1. What was your first job ever?

My first real job after university was as a Phys Ed teacher at Scotch College in Melbourne. Great life rocking up to work in shorts and a T-shirt armed with a whistle to fend off screaming kids. People still can’t understand how a sports guy ended up in the land of propeller heads. I’m still pondering that exact question.

2. What do most like about working in the IT industry?

I like the fact that technology can help businesses achieve their objectives in a more integrated fashion, usually coupled with the challenge of implementing change with those that are reluctant to.

3. What’s your hobby?

Come to think of it, my hobbies have taken a back seat since kids have come along. Play a bit of golf (to escape from the better half for at least 6 hours) and used to windsurf and snow ski fanatically. This year I am definitely taking up kite boarding.

My favorite hobby would still have to be sampling some great reds on a winters night, or perhaps any night would suffice.

4. Where do you think the Australian IT industry will be in five years?

If we look back and see how far we’ve come in the last five years, it’s a bit daunting to think where we might be in the next five, but the Australian IT industry needs to take a hit of speed. That is network speed and storage space to catch up to the rest of the world. The NBN will unfold, hopefully bringing with it one giant leap for this vast continent and the momentum should blow everyones hair back so fasten your seatbelts!

I think it’s time we created some dust, rather than swallowed it. The hype around cloud computing and SaaS will no doubt continue to evolve as one major piece of a complex puzzle in our technology driven society. Business applications will be more aligned to consumer driven products such as the iPhone and iPad to enable end users in corporations to actually enjoy using business applications, becoming more productive as an end result.

5. What/who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?

Many people have inspired me throughout my career and I have taken bits and pieces from all of them (all the best bits of course). For me it’s more about the ‘what’ inspires me. I consider myself to be fairly entrepreneurial and I love a challenge. I get inspired when people say “that can’t be done” or “boy, that’s a big ask”. To me, there will always be a way to succeed even against all the odds. That’s what gets me out of bed each day, finding solutions to problems, how can I do things better, how can I outsmart our competitors, how can I help other people and inspire them to join me on the journey?

Many great people come to mind who have shaped me, including the remarkable Stuart Diver — the only man to survive an avalanche that engulfed a ski resort in 1997, killing 18 people. Left buried under the rubble, he struggled to let rescue workers know he was alive, but somehow managed to survive in the freezing conditions to become a symbol of hope and bravery for the Australian people. Another great man that comes to mind is Lance Armstrong and from a business perspective the journey of Bill Gates still intrigues me and inspires me today.

Image credit: IFS