OpenText Hightail

Coffee with: Kevin Mackin


March 25, 2014

Kevin Mackin, GM of Hightail APACName: Kevin John Paul Mackin
Hometown: Oakleigh, Victoria (Australia)
Joined Hightail: October 2013
Title: General Manager Asia Pacific

Hightail recently opened the doors of its Asia Pacific (APAC) headquarters, under the leadership of our APAC General Manager, Kevin Mackin. We caught up with Kevin to his road to Hightail, the power of teamwork and wombats.

How did you get into tech?

I started my professional career in telecommunications, including a stint at Australia’s largest telecom firm, Telstra. I was part of their first-ever enterprise sales team before moving PBX (private branch exchange) sales and marketing. This role taught me a lot about product management and product marketing and I became General Manager Marketing of the Telstra PBX Division in the early 1990s. Around that time, Australia’s telecom space was becoming flooded with IT sales and marketing types, so I decided to go the other way and moved to Silicon Valley to join Tandem Computers. In 2000, I return to Australia as WebEx’s first international employee, which is where I caught the software as a service/startup bug.

Where were you before Hightail?

I was working at IBM as Marketing Manager (not by choice – my previous company was acquired) for growth markets, including APAC, China, India, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Big companies are just not my thing: I don’t do politics and I can’t get passionate about the solutions they offer. I found the job boring, though I did get to go to some cool places. I got caught up in the middle of Taksim Square in Istanbul during last year’s protest, visited Moscow in the middle of winter and presented awards at a marketing class graduation in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Why did you decide to join Hightail?

Hightail ticks all my boxes. The business in an exciting growth phase, the people are great and the culture gets shit done. Most importantly, Hightail is an awesome service and a great fit for the APAC enterprise market.

What do you love most about your job?

I get to do what I love most: building new businesses from scratch in this part of the world. I love building this small, happy and successful team who are starting to kick butt in this new geography and that the whole company is fully behind our efforts to establish this APAC beachhead. Like any new company, there are plenty of challenges but I love using my broad range of skills to tackle them.

What or who inspires you?

When I was growing up, our local youth club had a huge banner emblazoned on one wall that said: “A Champion Team will always beat a Team of Champions”. This stayed with me and I’m inspired by teams and businesses where the power of the group is critical to their success, rather than having one or two stars holding up the rest.

The Australian Cricket Team from 1999 to 2004 was such a team, winning a record sixteen consecutive Test wins and the 1999 Cricket World Cup. The team had some stars, but their real strength came from their teamwork and a belief that, together, they were the best team in the world. The captain was Steve Waugh, who was once described as a “cold-blooded, scientific” leader. He epitomises my idea of a strong team leader. When I grow up, I want to be just like him.

Favourite footy team?

I am a fully paid up Gold Member of the Melbourne Demons—one of the founding clubs of Australian Rules Football. Sadly, we have not won a premiership since 1964, but this the year of the Demon. We have a new coach and a great young team heading in the right direction.

Favourite food?

Does wine count? It’s certainly nourishment, for both body and soul. I know I am supposed to support Australian wine, but I really much prefer northern Italian and Venetian wines, like Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino, Valpolicella and Amarone. My idea of a great time is spending an evening with friends, quaffing a great red with a plate of proper farmhouse cheddar, quince paste, some hot salami and crackers, while discussing politics, religion, football or anything else.

Favourite coffee?

I do double shot lattes—strong and tasty. My favourite place for these is St Ali in South Melbourne. They have some single origin Brazil Sitio Corrego Da Prata beans, which are syrupy sweet with flavours of rich dark chocolate and berries and a red fruit acidity that leads to a bittersweet finish. Come down to Melbourne some time and I will be happy to share a brew there with you.

Favourite animal?

Wombat. Definitely. More specifically, the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons), which is adapted to digging (“can you dig it?” is one of my fave sayings). It has a stocky and robust build (sound familiar?) with silky fur that is typically greyish or tan in colour. All in all, a kinda cute, rotund and furry creature, with attitude.

Describe your ideal vacation

My wife, Theresa, and I love going to Europe for vacation. We are doing it bit-by-bit, usually starting in London to visit my son and granddaughter and then heading across to Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Poland. Next time around we plan to spend time in Ireland. My ideal vacation time is spent winding down a canal or river on a small houseboat or narrowboat, floating lazily whilst at the helm, with a bottle of red in front of me, some classic seventies Aussie rock (or glam rock) in the headphones and a fishing line in the water, with Theresa sitting up in the bow knitting.

Sounds idyllic, Kevin. Thanks for your time.


  1. Arun

    5 years ago

    Why do I get the feeling that, I want to work for this guy! Awesome! :)

  2. Rehan Gillani

    5 years ago

    Hello Ms. Katie & Mr. Kevin Mackin!
    The best thing I learnt from this interview is;
    “A Champion Team will always beat a Team of Champions”
    All The best with your Asia Pacific Project!

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