Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster Leads the Channel Into 2018

Channel Partners' Lynn Haber

Lynn Haber

Just a few weeks ago, Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, Commercial Partner Channels & Programs, reported to Ron Huddleson, corporate vice president of the Microsoft One Commercial Partner (OCP) Group. Now, she’s replaced him. Huddleston, who has worked at Microsoft for less than two years and took the helm at OCP in February of this year, is on indefinite family leave.

Schuster, even before this recent move, was still considered Microsoft’s channel chief, a title bestowed on her in July 2016 when she was named the corporate vice president, Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group (WPG). (Microsoft has since done away with WPG — it’s now Worldwide Channels & Programs under OCP.) At the time, she replaced Phil Sorgen, who held the top channel slot for just over two years.

We caught up with the veteran Schuster – she’s been with the company since 1995 – to discuss her channel responsibilities, how she leads, and what’s ahead for partners in 2018. (The transcript below has been edited for clarity.)

Channel Partners: You’ve had the opportunity to work with and observe Microsoft’s much lauded CEO Satya Nadella’s leadership style. How has this translated into your role and working with partners?

Gavriella Schuster: Satya is an amazing person. When he took over the cloud and enterprise business, he was good at being clear about our objectives and it made our jobs much easier. When Satya became CEO, he very much did the same thing — that is, create a lot of clarity for the organization.

Microsoft's Gavriella Schuster

Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster

The way I translate that is, that it’s important for us to have clarity, to be transparent, and to provide the inspiration and the view into the innovation for our partners. To help them understand what is really important the customer, to the market, and to us. And, the convergence around value for them and getting very clear — not trying to do lots of things but rather doing a few things really well.

In the new operating model – One Commercial Partner Group – that we rolled out for working with partners, we did two things: One, we got clarity with them that we’re in four core businesses and we would like our partners to help build solutions for them; and two, we said, we’re going to help you in three ways: we’re going to help build your businesses, we’re going to help your build your go-to-market, and we’re going to sell with you.

CP: As we all know, there’s a lot of transformation going around – partners, Microsoft – so you’re challenged to keep enablement in tune with what partners need as they transform their businesses, and they’re moving at different speeds. How is Microsoft enabling partners? 

GS: The things we’re enabling are better ways for partners to get connected to customers and better ways for partners to get connected to each other. As we look at making this a true ecosystem and driving value to the customer – and as our partners transform, which means that they’re getting much more specific and prioritizing what they focus on within their own businesses – it becomes even more important for them to work with each other to deliver on the full solutions to customers.

Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster will deliver a keynote at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo, April 17-20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Go here to register for what will be the largest CP Expo ever!

The opportunity that we have by having all of the various ways that partner build solutions under one roof enables us to …

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