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Company focus Oct 25, 2022

In conversation with David Connolly

In conversation with…


David Connolly,
Director at Rycon Electrical Services (Australia)

A Reliable Controls Authorized Dealer since 2018

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, a town of about 50,000 back then. It’s a bit of a booming town now, located about halfway between Sydney and Melbourne. My mother, Lynn, is a retired pharmacy assistant; my father, Martin, is a retired detective turned private investigator. I have two older brothers and one older sister. I’m the father of a beautiful 10-month-old girl, Charlotte, and loving partner to Jenna. Having Charlotte has made me reevaluate who I am and who I’m going to be. For most of my twenties I wouldn’t have been ready for this. I’m 34 now.

David Connolly, director at Rycon Electrical Services


What are you passionate about?

Learning about what makes people tick, what motivates them to reach their goals, and how I can help them get there.


Describe your job responsibilities.

Being in small business, I put many hats on. My main responsibility as director, I feel, is that I strive to get the best out of my team. We’ve got quite a young team—nobody is older than me—so every day there’s some way I can coach someone. And they teach me a lot as well; there’s so much positivity in the younger generation. To not listen or learn from them would be a mistake.


Do you have any advice for those up and coming in the industry?

If you haven’t already, write up your personal mission and purpose statement and stick it to the wall. Always make decisions with that in mind. There are too many goals out there that focus solely on money as the outcome, and that’s a horrible way to live life in my opinion. You won’t reach your goals by doing that, so you have to have a good mission and purpose. My mission is to treat others as I’d like to be treated, to listen with empathy, and to learn from my mistakes.


What attracted you to the building automation industry?

It wasn’t by design, that’s for sure. My parents pulled me out of school at age 16 for being disruptive, and that led me to an electrical pre-apprenticeship. If you asked me at that point in my life what I wanted to be, it definitely wasn’t a sparky. However, after completing the apprenticeship, I found a job with a small mechanical electrical contractor in Canberra, working mainly on the installation side. I was never introduced to the engineering side of things—which was a bit of a myth to me—but it was then that I gained an appreciation for automation. It’s been 15 years since I started in the field, and my life has taken a few twists and turns.

What attracted me to the industry is not necessarily what keeps me here. We developed a business. Everything that business directorship entails is far more challenging than I ever did in engineering or installation, whether it be negotiating contracts with difficult counterparts or navigating my way through our company’s financials. That all interests me! I’m always learning, and there’s always something new on the horizon.


Tell us about a mistake you’ve made that others might learn from.

The biggest mistakes have been the times I didn’t listen to the person across the table, and I missed the critical issue because I was too busy thinking about what I was going to say. Me not listening with empathy took away my ability to read the room. Once you get into that trap, you can’t come back from it. If you’re always talking, you lose the ability to hear the real problem.

Understanding the problem is essential when it comes to negotiating a project. If you can’t fix the problem, you should walk away. I’d say it’s about 50/50 for us, and I’d like to get that to 80 percent of the time walking away if it’s not going to work for us. A lot of us are guilty of taking on way too much, and we suffer from saying yes when we should say no.


How would you like to see the industry develop?

Speaking in terms of our level, not the product level, I’d like to see more collaboration between the users of a product and the delivery team (us), instead of us dealing with the building contractor. I see too many times when users complain about a product because it doesn’t deliver what they were expecting, or it has more than they expected. And that’s because we weren’t involved. Too often, our client wants the cheapest solution possible. We could help them get that. If everyone right through the construction phase wasn’t so hell-bent on mitigating risk, and tried to work together, then we’d have far better outcomes. If the client is willing to talk about the problems they have, we could listen, work through it together, and provide better solutions for everyone.


Define success.

As long as I move in the direction of my mission and purpose, I’ll feel successful.


What does sustainability mean to you?

When I think of sustainability, I focus more on social sustainability: understanding what people need for the places they live and work in. When we design systems, we have an opportunity to think about that.


When you meet with a client to discuss their project, what’s your main goal?

To find the problem that needs solving. There’s always a problem, which I call the black swan. Usually it’s money, unless we’re working directly for the users; then money might not be an issue. But I always try to extract that black swan.


How do you show your clients you are people they can rely on?

We listen first and foremost. We respect all our clients and partners, and we want them to succeed. That’s the crux of it for us.



Why do you choose to align with Reliable Controls?

Jason Duncan, our regional sales manager, and I have a past working relationship. He mentioned that Reliable Controls was looking for a dealer in Sydney. We were a young team, up and coming, and happy to work with everyone. We didn’t have any attitude, and I think he liked that. We continue to align with Reliable Controls because of the support we get. In most other circumstances the support isn’t there, but Reliable Controls is always just a phone call away—whether it be in Canada, in Singapore, or Jason himself. We have a great relationship with Reliable Controls, from the sales team to the technical team. They’re always looking to get the best outcome for us. There was one time when Jason got stuck with us on a call at midnight while we tried to solve a problem. It didn’t necessarily have anything to do with Reliable Controls; it may have just been our experience, so he didn’t have to help us out like that. Most others wouldn’t have. Jason is a very positive guy. I’ve learned a lot from him. He also keeps us grounded when we think we’re a bit better than we are or without failure will pump our tires when it’s the other way around. I enjoy working with him.