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Sungard AS’ Carmen Sorice: Don’t Fear a Business Transition

**Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of profiles featuring Channel Partners advisory board members. Meet Sorice and the rest of the board by attending the Spring 2015 Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Register here.**

Engineer-turned-vice president Carmen Sorice oversees a channel that, much like his own career, has changed drastically over the years, calling for new thinking and fresh approaches.

Echoing peers, analysts and other industry insiders, the Sungard Availability Services senior vice president of channels says it’s time for transaction-oriented partners to change their business models to an “as-a-service” strategy, given the ongoing, long-term engagement that commodity sales just don’t provide.

Carmen Sorice of Sungard ASSorice knows the need for personal and business evolution firsthand. Consider that he entered the engineering field in non-channel industries about 30 years ago and then, after nine years, moved into product management. That crossover met with some disapproval; critics told him he should stay in his area of expertise.

“And so the transition became a challenge to me because a lot of people said, ‘Oh, you can’t do that. You can’t go from engineering to business; you have to just move up the engineering ladder.’” he said. “And I said, ‘No, that’s not what I want to do.’ “

In response, Sorice chose to accumulate whatever advice he could from business people.

“I didn’t have an MBA; I have an electrical engineering degree,” he said. “There are just a number of fundamental things you need to change to make that transition.”

He penned a 2014 Forbes column to impart some of those takeaways. His concluding tip for the enterprising techie? “Keep your head up.” Many engineers learn the exact opposite lesson, since their jobs focus on data. But business decisions tend to rely on data as support for a solution, not as the solution itself.

“You have to do a lot more assessment of what’s changing around you – not just what’s in your notebook in front of you,” Sorice said.

The advice proved useful, and Sorice made a successful career conversion, leaving AT&T Bell Laboratories for a marketing manager position at AT&T. He joined Lucent as director of North American sales operations in 1998 and went into partner sales in 2002. For Sorice, the channel proved the next logical step – the combination of technology and business.

“I spend my day helping those companies evolve their business, change their business so they can grow and be more profitable,” he said. “That’s what drove me to channels; that’s what keeps me passionate in channels.”

He rose as high as vice president of North America channels with the merged Alcatel-Lucent and then joined SunGard in 2008.

With that experience in his back pocket, Sorice preaches two major principals …

… to his team at Sungard AS: passion and leadership. His ideal leader is results-focused, accountable, credible, engaging and not limited by rank.

“You don’t have to be a senior executive to be a leader,” he said. “A leader is not about managing a business. It’s about leading – leading others, making others all achieve more than anybody thought they’d be able to achieve.”

Sorice infuses that philosophy into his interactions with partners, too. And because so many are tech-centric, he’s able to communicate to those who speak the language but also are shifting their practices to help companies increase market share, not just solve a one-off problem. That’s a glimpse of credibility in action.

“I think this is where the engineer in me comes out,” he said. “When you’re talking numbers – you’re talking about markets, growth rates – know your data. Be credible so that others will put more trust in you.”

He sees two major ways partners can separate themselves from the pack (and of course, this advice reflects Sungard’s specialties). The first is to sell hybrid IT, since customers can use a range of vendors to create a whole solution, while sharing cloud resources with other users to cut costs. The second is to offer cloud-based business continuity and disaster recovery, which requires very little expensive, premises-based equipment compared to traditional BC/DR.

“I think the partners who find a way to combine those two in a value-add kind of way are going to really see their business grow and really be valued in the eyes of their customers,” Sorice said.

Sorice says partners can expect Sungard to keep emphasizing those domains as the company sees more of its revenue come from the channel.

“We have continued to identify the channel business as a strategic part of our growth strategy, and we’ve backed those words up with investments in the channel business,” he said.


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