Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

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ETR :The Resignation

The Australasian, April 14, 1970 (Noel Bennett)


Management crisis at Control Data

Much pondering will now be taking place at the Minneapolis, U.S. headquarters of Control Data Corporation as to future operations in Australia.

For the managing director of Control Data Australia Pty. Ltd., Mr. E. T. Robinson has recently resigned.

Mr. Robinson, it is understood, is leaving to take up a European position with a U.S.-based organisation.

Mr. Robinson was the first representative of Control Data in Australia. The local operation was incorporated in 1963.

He has been the guiding light of the organisation and has been directly or indirectly responsible for Control Data having more than $30 million worth of computers installed or on order as at September last.

Notable orders include CSIRO, Bureau of Census and Statistics, Victorian TAB, BHP and the University of Adelaide.

However, Control Data Australia has emerged as more than just another computer selling organisation.

It has entered the utility business through CDC Data services/ Australia and field of computer education through Control Data Computer Training Institute.

Further, a manufacturing plant has been set up, the first order being remote ticket issuing machines for the Victorian TAB. This plant is part of the newly-formed Australian Systems Division which is to undertake the design of overall computer systems, lessening the dependence on overseas expertise.

Also the president and chairman of Control Data Corporation, Mr William C. Norris said on a visit to Australia some months ago that CDC. would be interested linking up with an Australian company in a joint software venture.

Last October, the company advertised for the new position of general manager responsible for the direction of Control Data's EDP sales division in Australia.

This was filled by Mr. Peter K, MacGregor, previously Control Data's NSW manager since 1966.  The vacancy in NSW manager was filled by Mr. Cavill, who came from Control Data  Canada. He had previously been in Australia with Control Data.

Thus the resignation of Mr. Robinson presents Control Data Corporation with a management crisis of the highest order.

LARGE ORDERS

For it is understood that Federal Government departments and instrumentalities will be placing extremely large orders for computers within the next few years.

It is thought that one of the reasons for Control Data Corporation Data Services coming to Australia and installing a large scale CDC6600 as the core of the operations was to strengthen the marketing side's chances of obtaining a large share of these orders.

Control Data's chances are also strengthened by having CSIRO and Census and Statistics using its equipment.

However, these marketing advantages will be offset by not having Mr. Robinson in the forefront of negotiations - a man who knows his market intimately, and who has been the chief architect of past successes.

Due to the investment in Australia and its past successful record, CDC cannot afford to dismiss the loss of Mr Robinson lightly and at this stage, there seems to be only two alternatives.

The first of these is to recruit in Australia. As it is extremely unlikely that the head of any other supply house would forsake his present position to take up the managing directorship, this means that the position would fall to someone down the management line.

While this person may have a good knowledge of the marketing environment, would he have the necessary personal qualities to handle the crunch involving millions of dollars?

The second alternative is to recruit from overseas, particularly from the U.S.  However, while this person may be used to clinching sales at the very top level, would not his lack of knowledge of the local environment work against this advantage?

Although a general manager has been appointed to take this matter of sales off the managing director's shoulders, has the load has been completely lifted?

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Despite the setting up of the systems division and possible entry into software ventures, indigenous computer hardware sales would still govern the success of Control Data's operations in Australia and therefore the managing director would be intimately involved in this sector.

However, to oversee the sales side and the other operations will require a person of the greatest experience and expertise.

It may be mentioned that both the Data Services division and training centre report direct back to the U.S.

Since the operations of the Data Services division may have a direct bearing on hardware sales, will the new managing director insist that this division report to him?

It is apparent that the parent company, CDC, will have much to think about in the next few months and the challenge of finding a suitable and effective replacement for Mr. Robinson may be considered in the terms of the following extract from this column some months ago.

“Control Data Australia is emerging as one of the most expansionist-minded and imaginative supply houses operating in Australia”.


See also :

Robinson resigns - again

Robinson to work for Button

Teaching Us The World Is Round