Friday Five: Sage’s Alan Osrin


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

Alan Osrin has had a long career with one company that became another. After helping to found South African business software company Softline in 1988, he worked with the company for the next fifteen years, moving to Australian in 1999, several years before the company was acquired by Sage. At that stage, Osrin took on the managing director role of Sage Australia. But he hasn’t forgotten his roots — and gets back to Africa every couple of years — at least — to visit the game reserves. Osrin’s our guest this week for the Friday Five.

What was your first job ever?
My first job was as an audit clerk for PriceWaterhouse. I did this for two years before leaving to start my own business at the age of 24. During this time I learnt a lot about different businesses and the way they operate. I learnt that unless you are passionate about your business and what you do, you won’t succeed.

What do you most like about working in Australia’s technology industry?
It’s a first world industry, so it’s demanding and competitive. But if you get the recipe of price, service and product reliability right, then the sky is the limit. Customers are very loyal but you always have to make sure you look after your customers, and so you should never take them for granted.

What’s your hobby?
I am a family man so any hobby time is taken up by the family. We are big sports fans, either watching my kids play or one of the professional teams. My boys play basketball and soccer. We are avid footy fans and will be back supporting the West Coast again this year, even though they were last year’s wooden spooners. I also enjoy travelling. Europe is my favourite destination, especially Rome and Paris. However, you haven’t lived until you have visited a game reserve in Africa. I try do that at least once every two years.

What can Australia do better to help grow a great technology sector?
I think that entrepreneurship and start-ups should be encouraged. It is a lot easier for young entrepreneurs to raise funds in the US than it is in Australia. Australia has amazing talent in IT and we should encourage innovation.

What/who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
My dad was my greatest inspiration. He grew up in an orphanage in Johannesburg and made sure his family would have better opportunities than he had. He was always positive and treated everyone with respect.

I was also very lucky to have started my business (Softline) back in South Africa with two very good friends who also turned out to be great entrepreneurs, Ivan Epstein and Steven Cohen. Softline was sold to Sage Plc in 2003. All three of us are still with Sage.

Image credit: Sage