Top Gun 51 Profile: Ribbon Communications’ John Macario: ‘The Business Is Based on Relationships’

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John Macario has been a channel fixture, and a Channel Partners fixture, for going on two decades. In that time, he has founded and led two consultancies, Savatar and TelcoFuture, guided product strategy at Optimum Lightpath, and overseen marketing and product management at Edgewater Networks. And, of course, he has moderated a number of Channel Partners Conference & Expo panels over the years. All that’s to say Macario, now senior vice president of global channel marketing at Ribbon Communications, stood out as an obvious Top Gun 51 candidate and winner this year. Macario knows the channel and what motivates partners. He also knows how to speak their language, helping them to develop sales strategies and generate leads.

Ribbon's John Macario

Ribbon Communications’ John Macario

In this Q&A with Channel Partners, Macario talks about his time and work in the channel, his philosophy on leadership, what’s on the horizon from Ribbon, and how he and his team are navigating the difficulties of COVID-19. Hint: Heard of Ribbon Wine Wednesday?

Channel Futures: When and how did you start leading the Ribbon channel?

John Macario: I came to Ribbon through the acquisition of Edgewater Networks in August 2018. Patrick Joggerst, Ribbon’s chief marketing officer, asked me to build out and lead the channel marketing team.

CF: How did you first become involved in the channel? Was it part of your overall career plan?

JM: That presumes that I had a plan [said jokingly]. In the mid-1990s, I had a great job working for the Canadian government as a technology development officer. My job was to help Canadian tech companies sell into the U.S. market and attract venture capital investment. It became clear to me that the only way help was to get channel partners interested in working with my clients. I learned very quickly that having cool technology wasn’t enough. Partners are trying to help their customers solve business problems, so I had to really dig in and understand which of my clients had technology that would do that.

CF: Have you been responsible for building channel programs from the ground up? If so, where did you first start and how has the experience lent itself to your time at Ribbon?

JM: Yes. After a few years of working for the Canadian government, two friends and I started Savatar, a consulting company focused on building channels. We worked with IBM, Verizon, AT&T, FedEx and many others. I learned a lot about partner programs but, more importantly, I got to talk to a lot of partners. They taught me something very simple: Partners will behave in the way your program incentivizes them to behave. I put that to use at Ribbon every day.

CF: What three main channel goals have you accomplished during your Ribbon tenure so far?

JM: The first was to create a team that could support our partners globally. Last year that meant getting on planes and hosting channel events in 17 cities around the world. This year it means hosting virtual events at times that work for partners in Singapore or France, not just New York and California.

Secondly, we found that many of our partners only knew Ribbon for one specific product or service that they happened to be deploying. We needed to do a better job of educating our partners on Ribbon’s very broad solutions portfolio and support them with new product training. We are now seeing partners sell much more of …

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