As Scality’s primary sales presence in Australia, Oleg Kokotovic, APAC Regional Sales Manager, credits his chameleon-like adaptability with enabling him to juggle numerous diverse roles and customers. The hats he wears includes those of sales, pre-sales, managing partners, organizing marketing events, and very importantly, teaching. He explains, “There’s always an aspect of teaching, whether you’re doing presentations and demos or training partners. Part of me is a teacher. I love to share knowledge.”
Oleg first discovered his love of teaching at the University of Sydney, where he taught a summer class for mature age students. “I was sharing the wonders of Java script technology and I realized I seemed to have a knack for it,” he recalls. His secret for ‘sharing knowledge’ well? “The best way to get a point across, I’ve found, is through a story, whether it’s an anecdote about a past customer or from your own experience. Stories are not as bare and dry as knowledge alone can be, and they’re certainly a fun way to teach.”
Ten years ago, Oleg decided to move into sales and pre-sales after realizing that he “had a preference for working with people as opposed to machines.” Prior to that, his career and education had been firmly grounded in the technical realm. “I had my first computer when I was seven,” he recalls. “It was a Commodore Plus/4. There weren’t a lot of games for it so I had to design my own.” As a third grader, he designed programs to solve math equations. “That’s how I fell in love with computing,” he reveals. “And I must admit, when it came time to elect a university, I took computing science as a failsafe, in case my basketball career didn’t take off.”
Oleg’s tech savvy enhances his ability to provide quality solutions to customers. He explains, “Because the technical side is not unknown to me, it’s not that difficult to truly understand what the customer requires from a business perspective and then change that into a technical requirement.” For Oleg, the key to being ‘customer-centric’ is keeping the customer’s business outcomes in mind. “You’re not doing this just to provide someone with some storage. You’re trying to solve a business problem. And that I think is the key,” he asserts.
Although Oleg’s primary goal is customer satisfaction, he dreams also of having a wider impact on society. “When I was asked at an interview, ‘What does professional success mean to you?’ it was a defining moment for me,” he remembers. “What I came up with—and this has been driving me ever since—is, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the technology I sold were used to cure dementia or cancer, for example? I’d really like to leave humanity in a better state than it is now. And I honestly don’t think it’s impossible for me to achieve my dream professionally within Scality.”
Once upon a time, Oleg dreamed of being a basketball player. In fact he played semi-professionally during his student years. He says, “Basketball is very fast and dynamic and it can be played with absolute grace. When you see, for example, Michael Jordan doing his famous free throw dunk, it’s almost human flight.” These days, he still plays for fun. “Your mind still thinks you’re 20, but your body says, ‘No, no, you’re a little bit older than that!’” he laughs. “Sometimes it makes for some very comical incidents.” Although he hasn’t yet succeeded in passing his love of basketball down to his three children, they have taken to another passion of his—computer gaming. (He tends to favor RPG and RTS games.)
Although being based in Australia can be inconvenient, Oleg enjoys one of the country’s most striking perks—its stunning scenery and marine life. “I live in the Moreton Bay region, a very beautiful corner of the world,” he enthuses. “We have a plethora of islands that have everything from white sandy beaches to continental shelves and drop-offs kilometers deep.” It’s no wonder that one of the places where Oleg is happiest is out on his boat—fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving, sometimes among whales, sea turtles, and dolphins.
This summer, Oleg will be journeying back to his native Serbia for an extended and undoubtedly well-deserved vacation. He says, “I haven’t been back since 2006 so I’m looking forward to taking the family there and showing them where I’m from and showing my kids where their heritage lies.” No doubt Oleg will be doing one of the things he does best—sharing old stories while making new ones.