Australia’s largest locally owned IT services company, UXC Limited, has grown from a small start-up to a homegrown success story. Managing Director Cris Nicolli is focusing on making UXC as customer-centric, flexible, and innovative as possible, and differentiating the company from its competitors. The CEO Magazine spoke to Cris about how UXC has grown so remarkably over the past 10 years, why governments need to invest and support in Australian IT companies, and where the industry is heading in the future.

Cris’s career didn’t start in IT. “I initially trained as an accountant and did my qualifications in business management,” Cris explains. “I found myself being the CFO of an IT company and discovered how fulfilling it was to be part of an exciting, growing business. I took on a number of different roles over that time to broaden my experience. I ran the Asian region for Digital Equipment Corporation. Following that, I did a stint with Nortel Networks as their Asia–Pacific services director. The amount of travel became too much, so, like many executives in global roles, I looked for a locally based position.”

Through his professional network, Cris was introduced in 2003 to a small listed company called UXC. He accepted the role from founder and then chairman Geoff Lord to head the IT division of UXC.

“I’ve been in the IT sector for a long time, and feel blessed to have been given the opportunities I have in such a challenging, vibrant, and constantly changing industry,” Cris says.

Since Cris joined UXC, the company has grown significantly. A key success factor, Cris says, is that UXC didn’t pursue the big end-of-town markets that had strong competition but aimed to find niches where the company could make its mark.

“We wanted to be different from the large multinationals. Our strategy became about identifying market segments we thought were large enough to build a sustainable business from, but also had good growth potential. It was important we exhibited characteristics that impressed customers. These included having leadership positions in particular markets, maintaining relevancy with our partners, and being very focused on proving the viability of a market, or, if it was not fitting our ROI criteria, exiting that market.”

Having established its portfolio of application businesses, UXC turned its focus to expansion in the managed services area. “We acquired an IT infrastructure business that had a strong set of customers and considerable scale,” Cris says. “This gave us a bigger market presence and the means to pursue larger opportunities.”