One of the true legends of local IT has officially announced his retirement after 22 years at the forefront of the industry.
Anthony Fitzhenry, one of the original founders of distributor Axiz in February 1989, this week formally informed employees of his departure from the firm that he has headed for the past two decades. Fitzhenry was responsible for building Axiz into one of the country's leading distributors before selling it to Pinnacle Holdings just over a year ago.
Fitzhenry had hinted at his imminent retirement at last year's Channelwise Awards – where Axiz was named as the country's top distributor – but it was widely expected that he'd take up a non-executive position on Pinnacle's board.
Yesterday, however, Fitzhenry dropped a bombshell when he said he would be severing almost all ties with the industry.
"I made a decision in the last month to give up all my directorships," Fitzhenry says. "Although I will be available in an advisory capacity [to Pinnacle and AxizWorkgroup]. But there will be no formal role."
All his focus and effort, he adds, will now be on Qhubeka ( it means "move forward" and can be found at Qhubeka.org), a corporate social investment project aimed at helping rural communities by providing bicycles to children in return for work done to improve their environment and communities.
"I suppose I could go back and do something [in IT] again and get to proper retirment age of 70 or 80," he says. "But I'm now in the fortunate position of being able to pick up on stuff that I last did in university. I can do anything I want to do, but I wanted to do something radically different.
"The bicycle project is something that is very close to my heart and it is really starting to take off now," he says.
"I'm also enjoying doing some of the work myself again," FItzhenry adds. "After years in the corporate world you develop some levels of management between you and the real work – you end up instructing and running meetings while others do all the real work.
"One of the nice things is that now I have the opportunity to again get my fingers dirty and get back to the nitty-gritty," he says. "It's a good opportunity to be a real person again. In big organisations, customers become numbers and it's about chasing and selling. In the multinationals' quest for market share it becomes a numbers game.
"Now I can sit down with a customer, have a cup of coffee with them, and talk," he says. "I can experience the humaness rather than just chase the next deal."