Lionel Singer: larger than life no longer

Lionel Singer was always larger than life, yet it seemed that he never bit off more than he could chew, was always in control. From the time he ventured into the computer industry in the 1970s with a software package for car dealers he was the consummate deal maker and his later success with Prime Computer is still talked about. After fighting hard to win Prime's distribution rights Lionel's Australian operation -- through a series of unprecedented advertising campaigns and a willingness to take the fight up to established players, including IBM -- generated a disproportionately high level of revenue for Prime. So much so that Prime decided it must resume control.

Later, through the Lionel Singer Group, he introduced to Australia a number of brands - including Pyramid, Convex and Sun Microsystems -- that later become mainstream and set up their own operations here.

Not all succeeded, despite Lionel's best efforts. In one of his truly larger than life efforts Lionel seized on a small brand of minicomputer from little-known Utah company Wicat and decided to lift it into the real world by undertaking his own port of the Pick operating system and database. The port was successfully completed in Australia, but to Lionel's chagrin Lionel was the only person in the world who could sell Wicat and Pick together. Eventually nobody could sell Wicat at all.

Once, after running into Lionel unexpectedly at a Pyramid press conference in Chicago, we wrote a cheeky note in Computerworld Australia making reference to "the ubiquitous Lionel Singer". It seemed a reasonable comment, since he did indeed appear to be everywhere. Back home, when the papers were brought to him in his office he scoured them for references to either Lionel Singer or his companies. After finding the comment in Computerworld he demanded a dictionary, apparently fearing some libellous tag, until he found the definition and relaxed. "Ah, that's OK", he beamed.

Ubiquitous was not a bad word to describe Lionel. He did seem to be all over the place, and sometimes in two places at once. And he was larger than life. And now, following complications after a heart operation in the US, he is no longer with us. He was only 59 and he will be sorely missed.

In the most bitter of ironies Lionel had agreed to come back to Australia in February for an industry roast arranged by some of his many friends and former colleagues. Now instead we must bid him farewell. Lionel will be brought back to Sydney and buried with his parents at Rookwood Cemetery. His funeral will be held at 9.00 am on Wednesday December 13 at Chevrah Kidasha, 500 Oxford St, Woollahra.

Oracle shuffles top deck

Phil Kiely has moved up from the managing director's chair at Oracle Australia to run an Asia/Pacific region ASP operation, which aims to build online provisioning groups in countries around the region. Kiely said his new group will "work closely with Oracle partners to ensure they develop the capabilities and skills built around the online service provisioning service model". He will be based in Sydney and will report to Deryk Williams, Oracle's Asia/Pacific executive vice president. Kiely had been with Oracle since 1997.

Brian Mitchell, Oracle's regional director of sales and marketing for Australia and NZ, will take over from Kiely as managing director of the Australian operation. He joined Oracle in 1998.

Around the traps

Listed software developer Software Communications Group has boosted its executive team with the appointment of John Gomes as project director in the Web design and consultancy division, and Bruce Trengove as national sales director for the online advertising division. Gomes joined Sofcom from UBS Warburg, where he was associate director of equities IT, while Trengove has worked for News Limited, Ogilivy and Mather, SSB Advertising and Media Entertainment Group.

The giant corProcure e-marketplace has rounded out its upper ranks with several appointments, including:

Harry Moyer has been appointed general manager of IT, starting in January. He will join corProcure from Schlumberger, where he was senior executive IT manager;Tom Honan has been appointed general manager of finance and administration. He was previously director of finance for Nike Asia/Pacific.

Nicola Milne has been appointed general manager of operations. She joined corProcure from McDonalds Australia.

Nikki Williams, previously CEO of the Plastics and Chemicals Industry Association, has been appointed general manager of marketing and business development.

Adam Radly, CEO of Isis Communications, has been given a roving brief and is expected to spend a lot of time in the company's representative office in Los Angeles. To hold the fort at home, Peter Colby, currently executive director and COO, has assumed responsibility for management of Isis' operations.

Russell Fynmore has been appointed to the board of electronics manufacturer HarTec. He has been chairman of Optus and is currently chairman of Pacifica Group, GUD Holdings, and CCK Financial Solutions.

We're not sure if this rates as a promotion or perhaps something else, but Rudi Huber has moved from executive director of finance at Alcoa Australia to become CIO and vice president at Alcoa's head office in Pittsburgh. There's another interesting local connection in that he replaces Christopher Lynch, who moved to BHP Minerals as CFO.

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