More on me: Nathan Knight, Lenovo

Being back in the country after 12 years abroad has delivered a refreshing sense of perspective for Nathan Knight, channel executive at Lenovo New Zealand.

“The major catalyst was giving my two daughters a childhood here surrounded by our family and friends,” he says.

“It’s great to be back, and having the opportunity to be a key contributor in growing Lenovo’s local business is a brilliant outcome for me.”

Involved in the channel since the very beginning of his career in the technology industry, Knight got his start ‘in the early days’ with Renaissance as a Product Manager for Compaq and HP.

“This era really honed my ‘challenger’ skills as we were up against the dominant Tech Pacific. We had a great management team which fostered empowerment, accountability and innovation,” he remembers.

Like many, the wish to see more of the world bit and Knight packed up for a move to the United Kingdom, where he held positions in both business and market development capacities.

Through this period, says Knight, a particular source of reward was building international relationships and understanding new cultures.

“I’ve been lucky over the years to have some great people take the time to invest in me. Most noteworthy, I had an excellent mentor who identified strengths and helped me address my weaknesses.

“She was educated in the Romanian communist era ‘gifted’ schooling system, with an incredible intellect, keen sense of humour…and toughness honed as a former tank commander in the Romanian army.”

What he took away from the highly respected HP executive include work ethic, attention to detail and ability navigate all levels of business.

“She spent a number of years helping me to grow from a ‘fly by the seat of my pants Kiwi lad’ into a ‘competent businessman’,” he laughs.

But being such a lad had its advantages, too. “Being from New Zealand was a huge asset as we have a fantastic reputation as innovators and high performers. We’re one of the lucky nationalities that can navigate social sets easily.”

What he has noticed, too, is that while the size, scale and complexity of some international markets exceed that of this country, the business fundamentals are transferable; “It is the nuances of language, culture and execution that I worked hard on.”

As for his approach to the industry, Knight believes it comes down to choice. “We can look for absolute purpose at one end of the spectrum or just do the bare minimum at the other end. I’m definitely committed driving change and leaving a positive impression on the people around me,” he says.

That much is clear in what he considers among his greatest achievements: partnering with Dennis Publishing and Microsoft to deliver new laptops to more than 12,500 children from the tiny Caribbean nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Knight says he’s a big fan of ‘integrity’ and ‘developing people’ as life principles. “There is always more to learn. I also like to always have a few ‘game changing’ programmes on the go and I think challenging the norm is a good thing to do.”

The definition of success is pretty straightforward: sustainability, and that demonstrates Knight’s eye on the future, while his words to live by tell how he intends to get there: “Go for it.”

Outside of the office, Knight played rugby in London for eight years, but reckons the size and age of the guys at his local club (Ponsonby RFC) provides an excellent excuse to hang up the boots.

“I’m also a keen surfer and enjoy having fun catching up with friends and family around New Zealand,” he adds.

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