E29 - Ryan Coates at Surf Broadband Solutions03 July, 2023
During this episode, Harry Stephenson sat down with Ryan Coates, the VP of Infrastructure at Surf Broadband. They discuss his current position at Surf Broadband and what a day in the life of a VP does, his biggest Networking disaster and what’s next for him.
“It’s been a very long and winding road; I definitely didn’t take the short easy way to get here”.
After coming out of high school, Harry initially wanted to go into physics. After investigating the career path it could lead him down, he realised that becoming a Physicist didn’t always result in a lucrative career choice, so instead investigated Computer Science courses, which he ended up taking. This was cut short after leaving university before finishing the degree. He took a job at EPW designing their web page. Very few companies at that time had a web presence Ryan was taken under the wing of one of the Engineers there, which allowed him to gain some Networking experience.
From there, he went to a small IT firm that was building computers in the back room and joined there as a Network Engineer where he stayed for 7 years. He gained a lot of industry and on-the-job training during his time there. After realising he needed to work on his emotional intelligence and wanting to develop skills that he didn’t have surrounding his interpersonal side, Ryan jumped into a sales role. He found this a scary transition and very challenging at first but figured it was a sink-or-swim moment and he eventually managed to navigate through it.
Ryan eventually got to a point where he wanted to start up his own company, so he made the bold decision to go for it and focused on providing IT services for large organisations on an enterprise scale. “A lot of people told me, why are you starting a business now when the economy has imploded, are you crazy?”, and thought, maybe I am, but it ended up working out really well.
Time passed and he sold it to an investor partner and started a different company which focused on software development. After being there some time, he realised it was taking a toll on his personal life, and was not getting the healthy work-life balance that he wanted so he sold it and moved to Surf Broadband.
During this time, he went back to college and got a degree in organisational management. This path worked out for him but the advice he’d give to his children is ‘If you can in any way finish your degree the first time then do it. It will make the next steps in your life not perfect but hopefully a little easier. Also only do it if it benefits your career path, don’t take out massive loans if the job won’t pay it off’.
An average day as the VP at Surf Broadband varies because they’re rapidly growing and there are always fires to put out. He gets to work in the morning, and he has an inbox filled with issues that need to be addressed. The biggest thing he’s trying to focus on is continuing to build and improve on standards and processes. As a company that is just making that shift from an entrepreneurial company to a fully-fledged corporation, there’s a different mindset, instead of focusing on every single customer, they’ve got to focus on the customer base as a whole. They are thinking about how they can put processes in place that can handle 99.9% of the business.
If you want to hear the biggest Networking disaster he’s faced, make sure you listen to the full episode now!