Channel Partners’ 2019 Circle of Excellence Inductees

Channel Partners' Circle of Excellence

For the sixth consecutive year, Channel Partners is inducting channel executives into the hallowed halls of its Circle of Excellence.

A program that began with 14 honorees in 2014 has blossomed into the most respected collection of leaders in the channel, recognized for helping their partners create business value for their customers. We honor these execs for their vision, innovation and advocacy of the indirect channel during this time of transition and convergence.

There are a lot of new faces this year, as well as a few we’ve honored before. They all took home hardware during an evening of fine dining in an intimate setting at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, April 11, 2019, at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

In the gallery below, meet the leaders (in alphabetical order) from industry titans such as AT&T and Verizon, as well as master agents Avant, Telarus, Intelisys and many more that shared a special evening with the Channel Partners team.

Datapipe's Robb Allen
Telarus' Amy Bailey

Bailey, vice president of marketing with master agent Telarus, says some of the marketing moves she and her company have made have "revolutionized the industry."

"Last year we created a new event request process to streamline our supplier requests. We have also created a number of custom sponsorships for suppliers looking for something unique," Bailey said. "This balance has allowed scale and creativity at the same time.  Effective use of marketing dollars has enabled our supplier partners get in front of our partners more efficiently and more effectively. It has brought our partners unique learning and social networking opportunities not previously available."

Bailey has been in her position for three-and-a-half years.
Avant's Alex Danyluk

As chief strategy officer for Avant. Alex Danyluk has been a key cog in the company's growth. In the past year, he has worked to scale Avant's channel sales enablement team and manage its vendor ecosystem.

In fact, Danyluk and Avant welcomed new supplier companies to the channel for the first time. Alert Logic, Trustwave, LogicWorks, Talari (now an Oracle company) and Talkdesk are just a few.

"I see a golden age for trusted advisors that help their customers navigate the confusion caused by the accelerating pace of change in IT," Danyluk said.
ACW Call for Connect Live Attendance
RingCentral's Lisa Del Real

Del Real is a nine-year veteran of RingCentral, with the last two serving as AVP of global channel programs and operations. She's been particular active in helping the company continue to expand its footprint in Asia Pacific and EMEA, handling all programmatic and operational development aspects.

She's also been instrumental in developing unique ways to increase partner demand generation at no cost to the partner, while keeping their commissions whole. Training has also been at the core of her recent efforts.

"My team and I executed 23 global channel educational events through partner academies and countless industry events, helping scale the company’s partner program to more than 9,000 channel partners worldwide, adding almost 2,000 partners in 2018."
Mitel's Daniel Farrar
8x8's John DeLozier

Now one year into his channel-chief role at cloud communications provider 8x8, DeLozier likes to talk about the various things that he says differentiate his company's channel program — one being a new partner portal called PartnerXchange. And there's more to come.

"I am really excited about launching our new channel partner program – Elev8 – ... Partners aren’t going to see the same old “medals program” from 8x8. We are changing it up.  We will continue to focus on contact center with our partners, driving relevant solutions thru our platform X Series with every opportunity."
Vonage's Mario DeRiggi

Only in his new job for six months, Mario DeRiggi has big plans for the Vonage channel. The former Broadview executive VP – now Vonage's senior VP of national channel sales and business development – is excited about helping partners transition their businesses to meet the needs of a converged telecom/IT world.

"The structure of the Vonage Partner Network and its focus on a solutions-based model enables us to work with partners to uncover customer needs and provide our partners with the depth of product knowledge necessary to recommend solutions specifically designed to meet those needs," said DeRiggi. "The program, with a dedicated channel manager and teaming for ongoing support and consulting services, makes it much easier for partners to function as an extension of the Vonage team, and leverage everything the brand has to offer to build out our business together."
Carrier Ethernet Incumbents Year-End 2018
MicroCorp's Karin Fields

Fields, a 24-year veteran of MicroCorp, ascended to the role of CEO five years ago. She's excited to watch successful partners start to see the percentage of revenue from traditional telecom services shift to such things as infrastructure, SD-WAN, security, applications and UCaaS in the coming year.

She's proud of her company's recent efforts in networking and the cloud.

"With a dynamic cloud services team and an industry thought leader as our SD-WAN evangelist, we are helping our partners 'crack the code' as they lead their clients to the cloud," Fields said.
Rackspace logo 2019
Nextiva's MeiLee Langley

Langley, Nextiva's director of channel marketing, has been with the VoIP and cloud communications vendor for just a few months, but this 8x8 and RingCentral veteran already is making big strides with her new employer.

"I am excited to combine my channel marketing experience, tireless drive (read: mild caffeine addiction), and genuine enthusiasm for the channel with Nextiva’s innovative Voice+ technology, amazing service, and a channel team that raises the bar for channel teams industry-wide," Langley said.

She looks forward to the next several months in the channel, where she sees a new breed of partner emerging, "one that wants to learn how to fish and be given the proper tackle to do so; a partner that doesn't want you to simply do the work for them by creating and launching an email campaign on their behalf, but is interested in learning how to utilize marketing tools and programs to drive demand for their company."
ACW Call for Connect Live Attendance
Verizon's Dave Longo

Dave Longo, a 20-year company veteran, is brand-new to his role as director of North American channels for Verizon Business Markets; however, he's been active in Verizon's indirect channel for much of his career there.

In the past year, he spearheaded an effort to move to a revenue-based program structure with a regional channel support model. He predicts the channel to be at the forefront of the "fourth industrial revolution" driving solution adoption that includes 5G, security, SD-WAN and more.

"I have continued to lead in a changing environment as we move toward transformation and [have] encouraged my team to embrace this exciting change," said Longo. "I promote curiosity and strategic risk-taking."
2019 Digital Excellence Awards Logo
Spectrum's Mitch Lopez

Mitch Lopez has been with Spectrum for five years, and in his current role of channel marketing director for three. He and the cable provider are in the middle of a multiyear "PartnerLink" portal project which will eventually consolidate all entry points for partners. Last year began with a focus on adding capabilities that make it simple to check serviceability within Spectrum's footprint.

"The channel continues to show a bend toward innovation of tools that enable individual sellers to produce more with less administrative effort<' said Lopez. "Recognizing this trend early was helpful in how we are developing both our PartnerLink portal and working with our master agents to develop custom tools to help their individual initiatives. Prospective new partners will see the value and benefits of master agents that can support and enable them using technology and AI tools. I believe in it and we are enabling master agents to do exactly that."
Avaya Huddle Rooms
Masergy's William Madison

Bill Madison is Masergy's vice president of global channel development, a role he's held for two years. Overall, he's been in the channel for two decades.

This past year, Madison led a number of efforts for the provider of managed SD-WAN, cloud communications and managed security services. He worked to deepen Masergy's penetration strategy with existing partners through joint business planning, opt-in lead-sharing programs and targeted, account-based marketing; activated new partners and fostered new channel initiatives with the Cisco Protect & Grow program; and created new partner feedback loops.

"Masergy is paving the way in helping channel partners gain enterprise business by being a strategic partner for enterprises that want to embrace digital transformation and seamlessly migrate to secure SD-WAN, [and] migrate their communications and contact centers to the cloud — all with security and real-time analytics built in," Madison said.
Avaya Huddle Rooms
CoreDial's Alan Rihm

Rihm is the CEO at CoreDial, the cloud communications provider, a position he's held for 14 years. 

The biggest accomplishment for Rihm and his team in the past year might have been the launch of the CoreNexa contact-center solution, which he says allows partners to offer "robust customer-engagement functionalities."

"The solution can be tailored to address specific business requirements and vertical markets, and is designed to serve the needs of informal customer engagement work groups, such as technical support, sales, accounts payable and other departments," said Rihm. "Functions include IVR automation, intelligent routing capabilities, presence management, call and join features, and detailed reporting and analytics that enable businesses to provide rich, satisfying customer experiences."
Business Thinkers, brainstorming
Sprint's Amy Rintamaki

Rintamaki has spent nearly her entire career with Sprint, with the last several years in the channel. She took on the title of vice president, partner and channel sales, last year. It was her goal in 2018 to rebuild the carrier's leadership team and channel-partner structure to be more effective.

"Internally, we needed to realign around solution expertise and how our partners go to market. We acquired talent and aligned our people to make the biggest impact for the channel," she said. "We then focused on how more effectively acquire new partners. We moved to a master-agent channel model to enable more companies to easily partner with us and sell Sprint products and service through many of the existing relationships they already enjoy."

Rintamaki expects the remainder of 2019 to feature a "technology evolution," most notably the onset of 5G.
Business Thinkers, brainstorming
Intelisys' Christine Sanni

Christine Sanni is channel manager, Mid-Atlantic, for Intelisys, a ScanSource company. She's been with the company for one year.

Prioritizing brand messaging and leveraging AI tools to augment operational gaps were among the key initiatives she spearheaded for Intelisys in the past year.

"[In the coming year], the channel will focus on strengthening customer engagement and retention through the implementation/investments of new technologies that focus on understanding the health of [its] customer base and activity," Sanni said. "It will be important for the channel to understand the value of an emotionally connected customer versus a satisfied customer and work to ensure that people, product and, most importantly, messaging foster an authentic connection."
AT&T's Sara Straley

Sara Straley, who's been with AT&T for 15 years, is the new head of AT&T's Partner Exchange channel program within the broader AT&T Partner Solutions ecosystem. She was part of Partner Exchange when it formed six years ago.

"2018 was a really big year for us," Straley said. "Together, we were able to launch several new products into our channel and help drive significant growth with our partners. We did this by keeping a close pulse on what they need to succeed and equipping them with the offers, marketing tools and training to get there. Our biggest accomplishment last year was bringing together two award winning channel programs – AT&T Alliance Channel and AT&T Partner Exchange – into one better-than-ever event, Fusion by AT&T Partner Solutions. This three-day event included industry experts, one-of-a-kind keynotes, AT&T executives, an exhibitor showcase and lots of fun and celebration."
MNJ Technologies' Paul Kozak
Office Depot's Heather Tenuto

Heather Tenuto is right in the middle of Office Depot's focus on being both a provider of business services and a technology platform.

The vice president of SMB services points to her company's recent launch of managed IT as a service, powered by Compucom, as a huge play in the channel. It helps partners create or enhance an outsourced IT solution for their SMB customers that want to focus on working on their business, rather than in their business.

'Our offer is completely unique, breaking new ground in what's available to channel partners today," Tenuto said. "It helps partners move into or expand their services business, while keeping costs low."

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