Who is IT NZ: Deane Sloan

Deane, from Equinox IT, is a self confessed super geek. And we got that pretty clearly from his interview answers. It starts off normal enough, and then by the time we asked what his favourite occupation was it derailed into the least creative but at the same time most fascinating answer we’d had.

Who is IT NZ is a feature of What is IT NZ that we talked about in an earlier post. We’ll meet you for coffee, ask you a version of the Proust Questionnaire and just hang out and have a nice time. Afterwards you introduce us to someone else so the chain keeps going.

What’s your business?

The company I work for is Equinox IT, I’m a general manager there.

What’s your role?

I’m the general manager of consulting. There are discrete lines of business. I’m also one of the consultants. I’ve been at the company for 17 years, I joined as a very young lad. And I would have thought that staying at the same place for 17 years would drive me nuts but we constantly rebirth and reform. I remember when I joined I said I’d give it two years. There’s a couple of times I’ve stood back and gone “wow, how did this happen?” I’ve bought a house, had kids, got married…actually not in that order. It wasn’t the plan, it’s just good people attracts good people.

What’s your two sentence elevator pitch?

I did ask for this…but I’m so going to go off script…Imagine the big guys in the IT consulting space, but we’re a small local company with the same sort of strength and depth. But the give-a-shit-factor of a small business.

What’s your favourite virtue?

Resilience. It’s where I think all the good stuff comes from. It’s a lot about what we teach our girls at home, and I look for it in staff members and myself. The ability to see things through over a long duration and deal with adversity. I think that’s where the human spirit shines. I’m what you’d call a social triathlete. I did a half ironman-distance, the people I trained with had resilience. I was able to see it. It was amazing. I see it in the work we do, and I see it in our clients. It’s not just about hanging in there, it’s about achieving and succeeding where it’s not easy.

What do you look for in a friend?

Bit of spirit. Even a pugilistic attitude at time. honesty, integrity. Sense of humour – or maybe the integrity to tell me where I’m failing a bit and the humour to put up with it.

What’s your dominant characteristic?

I’ve been described as like having a dog with a bone. And I think that’s probably it. I like to see things done and get them done, maybe it’s part of my own resilience? But in a positive way. I don’t want to stop and get obstructed by things. Tenacious. Yeah I think that’s a good way to describe it.

What’s your biggest flaw?

I’m tenacious.

[I pointed out that you claiming your dominant characteristic is your flaw is … maybe not good]

It’s a real flaw. And a positive. Maybe we’ll call it tenacious on the positive and dog-with-a-bone on the negative. I’m very self-aware of my own need to get out of my own way at times. I don’t want to be the obstacle that I’m trying to work around.

[Deane became concerned here that his dominant characteristic was a flaw and thought a bit longer]

Let’s go with wanting things my own way.

What’s your favourite occupation?

Anything in our industry I guess. But I really love the job of management. I like the people side, the getting things done side.

[I asked again, if Deane could be anything in the world he’d want to be a manager]


[I confirmed. Not even an astronaut?]

Nope. I thought about astronaut. I used to want to be one. But my fear of heights is a slight limiter. I’d try to work through those fears…I have enough fears of management. I haven’t conquered it yet. It still holds so much for me. Fireman is something that keeps coming back to me, but then fear of fires…there are all these heroic things that I wish I did… but I think our industry and our jobs are heroic enough.

It’s pretty sad…as a teenager I found a sign that had fallen off a car-park somewhere and it said general manager. I’m not kidding. And I had that on my desk for decades…where do you go with this?

[I asked if he was sure he wanted us to publish this…]


What’s your idea of happiness?

Spending good time – not necessarily parenting time, as in telling kids off – but being with my kids, my girls, my family. I love it, it really is my idea of happiness. Getting away with them going and seeing new places. We went to the States with them and I was a kid with them.

What’s your idea of misery?

Losing people. Family, but also anyone in our team. It’s hard as hell. We lost a team member to cancer. Team member…it’s so platitudinal, but she was a friend. A colleague. I never want to experience that again.

If you weren’t you who would you like to be?

A kid again. Seriously. I’d love to be a kid again. I’ve thought about this a bit over the years, I see what my girls get up to and the opportunities for them. I like solving problems … the challenges they’re going to face in the next 30 years, like automation, all those sorts of things, I reckon I could nail some of that, but I’m at an age now where 30 years from now I’m not going to be in my prime to do that. And just the tech that they have now. I learned to code randomly as a very young person, but it was nothing compared to what the girls have. I’d be a kid again. I could do it so much better the second time round.

Where do you wish you could live?

Palo Alto. I got to go there related to work. As a place where there’s just the activity, the thinkers, the people, I’ve never felt so intimidated and yet so empowered in my life as being there. I don’t know how I’d make that work. But yeah, I’d go to Palo Alto.

What’s your favourite colour and your favourite flower?

This is really funny because I’m colour blind. I’m going to phone this one in. White. All of them. So that’s why I’m not a pilot. Favourite flower is bird of paradise. Possibly because it’s got so many colours going on. But don’t ask me to describe them. I didn’t find out I was colour blind until my late 30s. I had some rip roaring discussions with my mother about this over the years. It makes so much sense now.

My wife told me she thought I was a different person, a bit more outgoing than I am, because I’d worn a few interesting shirts to work over the years…I had no idea. Once I found out, I talked with her about it and we’d just never surfaced this type of thing. So I’ve worn a lot of lilac over the years…and that’s just not me.

Who’s your favourite character in fiction?

Captain Kirk. It’s a sad answer but it’s true. The old school version. He’s the modern version of a sailing captain, going into the unknown. The technology is cool. He had all these people to support him. I promise I’m not tying this back to the general manager thing. He was seriously enabled. He had cool tech, the away team…he always went away on the dangerous missions. In hindsight slightly sad and reinforces the tech nerd thing. But that’s who I am.

What’s your favourite swear word?

Thinks. Thinks some more.

Given that my daughters might read this. I think swearing is bad actually. And I’m swearing off swearing. Honestly. They know me. In the car…I’m probably a hand gesture guy to be honest. The non-verbal.

What’s your favourite hand gesture?

Deane was reluctant to answer. I mimed some. He agreed with one of them.

My wife gives me so much shit about that because I do it to people in Karori and Karori is a small community and my wife says “they could be our friends” and I say “I could be waving”.

If you’d like to take part in Who is IT NZ, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

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