The CEO of a Christchurch-based technology company says they’ve managed to take on the world by thinking of themselves as global.
Sequent is a company that builds software to understand what’s underground, says CEO Graham Grant.
Knowing what’s underground is critical to everything humans do above ground, Grant says.
“To build on it, you need to understand it.”
They currently have a number of major projects in the works, including involvement in the City Rail Link in Auckland and the UK’s high speed rail network.
What makes them unusual for a Canterbury company is that 99% of their customers are offshore, so many New Zealanders have never heard of them.
When you see where we come from, we started with one employee in 2003 and now we are serving over 700. [people] In 120 countries around the world, this is a remarkable growth story,” said Grant.
“So we need to package that growth story, see what we can learn from it and help other New Zealand tech companies succeed, because there must be 100 other sequesters.”
Grant says he never thought of Sequent as a New Zealand company, but rather a global company based in Canterbury.
“We decided early on that we’re a global software company that’s based here. We’re not a Kiwi software company trying to export. And this update will change how you see the world,” Grant said.
“Kiwis have some positive traits in our mindset – we are equal, we don’t care about job titles, we have travel and we help each other. But we are small and far from the rest of the world.”
Grant says there are three main reasons for Sequent’s success, starting with purpose.
“You need a reason for being, and you need a higher purpose than yourself. You don’t want to look back on your life and feel like you didn’t make a big impact and make a big contribution.”
For Grant, that goal is simple: “If we better understand what’s underground, we can build a better world.”
To this end, they discussed Sequent’s “zero income” work, finding clean groundwater sources for Rohingya refugee camps like Bangladesh, and saving lives in the process.
Successful technology companies must make products that “solve real problems” so that customers can easily see the value the technology provides, he said.
And the final lesson was to “hire great people – we went around the world and got the best people we could find, we got the best people we could in New Zealand – people who fit the bill.”
Q+A is public interest journalism on air funded by NZ.