By Adeline Teoh, ASM.
When Andrew Mamonitis moved from Australia’s leading accounting software company to a little-known Russian IT security brand he was looking for a challenge. And like the software that has evolved to outwit cybercriminals, Mamonitis has succeeded in growing Kaspersky’s niche to (almost) a household name.
Numbers have always been part of the game for Andrew Mamonitis, Kaspersky Lab’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand. Educated in accounting, he baulked at the idea of becoming a bean counter and picked up some IT subjects to complement his study. The result led to an account executive role at MYOB, Australia’s dominant player in the accounting software market.
“MYOB was a really good fit because obviously I could combine the two pretty effectively,” he says. “We were 77% market leaders in that space.” Handling sales for Australia’s best-known accounting software had its limitations though and, scratching the seven-year itch, Mamonitis was ripe for a challenge.
Along came Kaspersky, an IT security brand from Russia with very little profile in the Antipodes. Mamonitis was sold into the position of sales director for the firm. While he admits he had no particular desire to work in the security space, Mamonitis clearly had a solid track record in software sales to land the role. “I was basically approached to have a chat with Kaspersky. At that stage I didn’t know a lot about Kaspersky, as probably most people in Australia didn’t,” he says. The lure of the underdog proved to be his calling. “I had come from an established publicly listed company in MYOB so it was very exciting to move to a company that was well respected and had a fantastic product offering but didn’t have a big brand awareness in Australia,” Mamonitis explains.
“To embark on a new voyage and try to make some waves in Australia and New Zealand was the biggest thing that attracted me to that role.” Less than two years later, Mamonitis went from being the sole representative for Kaspersky in Australia and New Zealand to being appointed managing director, in charge of more than 20 people who work across sales, marketing and technical support. Consequently, Mamonitis’ growth as a manager corresponds closely with the growth of the brand in Australia.
From Moscow to Melbourne It was at a conference in Moscow, early on in his tenure with Kaspersky, that Mamonitis was struck with a marketing masterstroke, which he discussed with his Hong Kong-based Asia-Pacific managing director Harry Cheung. “Being a mad Melbourne [AFL] supporter I knew they were looking for a major sponsor on the eve of the season. I raised it with Harry: he did look at me funny but to my surprise said, ‘Look into it.’ Two weeks later Harry came to Melbourne and signed on the spot,” Mamonitis recalls. “That was the beginning of our sporting relationship in Australia.”
Kaspersky’s sponsorship of the Melbourne Demons catapulted the brand into the consciousness of general consumers, beyond the IT world where it already had a cult following “among IT professionals and tech savvy people.” This was an important part of Mamonitis’ directive because of the heavyweight competition in the IT security space. “It’s a very mature market in this region. There are no real greenfields, you’re basically trying to take market share off your competitors,” he notes.
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