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Nuvalo’s Manon Buettner: The Road From ‘Bored Stiff’ to Busy Cloud Enabler

Manon Buettner

James Anderson**Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of profiles featuring Channel Partners advisory board members. Meet Buettner and the rest of the board by attending Channel Partners Evolution, Aug. 14-17, in Washington, D.C. Register here.**

Manon Buettner has made a career of showing people the ropes, so to speak.

“I love the opportunity to help people out and give them advice and educate them on what I do know to help them come up to speed and meet their goals,” she told Channel Partners.

Buettner founded Seattle-based Nuvalo, an IT consulting company. It’s a business she says is not exempt from the evolution of the IT industry, including the “adoption of outsourcing and the move to operationalizing IT.”{ad}

“When I started Nuvalo in 2010, that was really when the triangle of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS was sort of being presented so that people could get some kind of framework around the word ‘cloud,’” she said.

To be in step with that evolution, Buettner assigned the “cloud enablement” label to her business, rather than calling it a consulting and brokerage firm. Brokerage remains a major part of her business, but she changed her angle when it came to prospecting.

“I’m presenting myself to CIOs, CTOs, CEOs as somebody that’s going to be a cloud strategist and help them get from where they are to where they need to be,” she said.

Nuvalo also added a professional-services unit, noting that many clients lack depth on the front end. Companies lack resources, which equates to employees with the qualifications to learn and support hybrid environments, she said. And that lack of resources often means clients don’t know what kind of architecture they need in the first place.

“What I’ve really been doing a lot of the last couple of years is spending a time on the front end to help people understand that a big part of the planning phase is doing the research and the discovery parts to map out the application,” she said.

Buettner said the channel has opened up a world of options for end users who want hybrid cloud. She sees continuous growth of provider options and users who are familiar with the technologies.

“Hopefully not everybody is just going to keep using Amazon as their go-to because they don’t know any better. They’ll start hearing about these other players that are present as channel partners,” she said.

Buettner’s career path to the channel and the tech industry in general came in roundabout fashion. She graduated from the University of California with a pre-law degree and landed a temp job with a financial company.

“I was bored stiff as …

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… an office administrator and asked them to send me to computer classes,” she said.

She became a LAN administrator and developed interest in her company’s data center. It didn’t take long to realize she wanted to be in technical sales, and she joined Bay Networks in 1995. She worked in the customer development group, where she did pre-sales and offers technical support to VARs and end-users.

She spent the rest of the ‘90s at Internet Communications Corporation and AboveNet Communications, before leaving for Qwest in 2001. She spent the next eight years there, where she worked with Jo Peterson, with whom she would later found Cloud Girls. Buettner worked in Qwest’s Internet Solutions Group, but her activities there came to screeching halt in November 2009. CenturyLink acquired the company, and Qwest preemptively got rid of all of its overlays.

“In one phone call we all got the axe,” she said.

But there was a silver lining.

“I got an incredible severance package, and I knew exactly that I wanted to start my own company.”

Enter Nuvalo. After two decades of interacting with the channel, Buettner felt that she understood its value.

“I had worked with channel reps who had brought me opportunities. I had [formed] my own opinions about who was doing a good job … and so I knew how I wanted to present myself, which was really to protect the best interests of the client and bridge the gap that was widening between the clients and providers,” she said.

Buettner says the best advice she got at the beginning of her career was “to be fearless,” and it’s advice she relays to the channel. Growth comes when you get outside of your comfort zone, she said.

“Some people might get intimidated about calling C-level executives. Maybe they’re new to the channel or maybe they’re … selling something besides telecom that they don’t have much direct experience with. My advice to people that are trying to be in this business is: Don’t be intimidated.”

Every conversation is an opportunity for both sides to learn.

“Take comfort in knowing that no matter who you are and what your experience is, there’s something that these people that you’re calling on can learn from you,” she said.


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