Top Gun 51 Channel Executives: Did Your Top Supplier Make the Cut?

Channel Partners Top Gun 51 logo

“You’ve got to get a rock star channel chief — this is not an ‘anyone will do’ kind of industry,” said JS Group founder Janet Schijns in a recent webinar on how to become the “it” vendor. “The people that are known, the people that have been in the industry a long time … really make a difference. They can overcome a lot of problems because the partners trust them, and the partners have made money with them before. You have to have someone strong if you want to attract top partners.”

We agree. Thousands of suppliers want top agents, MSPs and VARs to embrace their [UCaaS/SD-WAN/security/insert tech here] solution. Guess what?: Price, product quality and margin matter, but the difference between a profitable channel program and one that gets bogged down in conflict, inertia and spreadsheet complexity hell is leadership.

So who among today’s channel executives deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success?

It’s not an easy question to answer. While many lists call out the usual big names or have selection metrics best described as deus ex machina, we wanted to follow the data. After all, KPIs are another critical element of a successful channel program. With that in mind, we asked our distributor, master-agent and industry-analyst friends to each nominate 10 executives who excel in three areas. To make the list, a leader must be someone who:

  1. Advocates for the channel model with internal leadership. Proof points: Few or no house or named accounts. Product or service has “channel friendly” features and meets advertised claims for end-user functionality. Few operational roadblocks to success within partner program.
  2. Is committed to partners’ business success. Proof points: Has increased the percentage of revenue coming through partners during tenure. Can show data to support innovative programs for, for example, use of MDF funds, training and certifications. Provides effective enablement.
  3. Works to earn trust. Proof points: Considered ethical and honest by partners. Is transparent about direction of company and limitations of product or service. Minimizes risk of engagement.

While we’re not sharing who voted for whom, we thank Anurag Agrawal, founder and chief global analyst, Techaisle; Diane Krakora, CEO of PartnerPath; and Jay McBain, principal analyst, global channels, Forrester. Master agents Avant Communications, MicroCorp, PlanetOne, TBI, Telarus and WTG weighed in, as did distributors Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Pax8.

We will celebrate the #TopGun51 in September at Channel Partners Evolution in Washington, D.C.; this is just one of a slew of new and exciting programs we have planned. On Wednesday we’ll invite three special award winners – Channel Innovator (thought leadership, innovation), Lifetime Achievement and Rising Star – to the keynote stage for a panel discussion.

Click through our gallery below to see who made the inaugural list. We’ve also made our PowerPoint featuring the honorees and their write-ups available for download. Don’t see your favorite leader here? Tell us in the comments why he or she should be on the list next year.

Datapipe's Robb Allen
Curt Allen, President, Strategic Channels for Windstream Enterprise

Curt Allen (left) joined Windstream at a crazy time. In May, partners were put on notice that current agreements are null and void; they had to sign new deals or risk being cut off from commissions. Curt was dealing with more than 30 standard agreements. He tackled the mess head-on and worked hard to make the partner experience as easy as possible during a trying time. Bottom line, he’s introduced consistency when there previously was chaos. That’s huge.

Scott Barlow, Vice President, Global MSP for Sophos

Scott (middle) is one of the most recognizable names in the IT channel. He spent 11-and-a-half years in global sales and marketing at Reflexion Networks before Sophos acquired it in 2015. That's where he has developed a reputation for being one of the most customer-centric channel executives out there. Incredibly educated on managed security trends and opportunities, Scott travels the world helping partners up their MSSP games, evangelizing on countless keynote stages and panel discussions.

Jarrod Buckley, Director, Global Partner Programs for AWS

Jarrod Buckley (right) has been with AWS since 2011 – a long stretch in hypercloud time – and is killing it in a role that involves tens of thousands of software and consulting partners around the world. Jarrod and his team work closely with partners of all sizes, from startups to large companies, to build and deliver AWS solutions for customers. With an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, Jarrod has focused his career on driving great customer and partner outcomes at companies such as KPMG, Informatica and now Amazon in consulting, partner and presales roles. He has a 360-degree view that’s needed as partners nudge customers into the cloud.
QOS Networks' Frank Cittadino
Grant Burchfield, VP, Channel Sales for Zayo

In the year since Grant (right) was promoted to VP of channel sales, he’s freshened incentive programs and strengthened relationships with masters and partners. Grant really understands Zayo technology while also speaking the sales lingo and holding a law degree and an MBA. He has a global point of view, and his fans call him "the real deal." We expect big things from him going forward.

Taylor Castranova, SVP of Channel Sales and Account Development for Nitel

Nitel has always been a great partner, but Taylor Castranova (left) has taken it one step further by hiring an A-team of channel support managers who make the lives of those she works with easier. The Elite Partner Program’s focus on masters further extends its ease of engagement. For partners, Castranova’s background in sales means she speaks the language of the agent channel. And she’s just fun to work with.

Geoff Chretien, Vice President of Channel Sales for NICE inContact

Geoff Chretien (middle) is a huge advocate for his channel partners. He is open and easy to do business with, and he pushes partners to encourage customers to transform their businesses. That requires some out-of-the-box thinking, but the payoffs are big, and Chretien is always willing to go that extra mile to help NICE InContact's partners grow their average deal sizes.
Telesystem's Karlene Langford
Rafael Contreras, Area Vice President, Global Partner Operations Strategy and Chief of Staff for ServiceNow

Rafael (bottom left) joined ServiceNow in 2017 after 11 years at Salesforce, where he served as the senior director for partner programs. In his current role, he's responsible for channel strategy, operations and programs. Since his arrival, Contreras has worked to identify and implement best practices at the company. He’s also played a critical role in helping ServiceNow generate more than half of its revenue from partners — notable as most people don’t think of ServiceNow as being a channel-forward organization. The company, however, is being very innovative in how it addresses partner specializations. It's focused less on the certification badges partners “earn” and more on results. It took guts to remove the incentive of wanting to be a gold partner strictly for the badge and expect partners to show their capabilities — from driving the business, to delivering quality services to ensuring a satisfied customer.

Cheryl Cook, Senior Vice President, Global Partner Marketing for Dell Technologies

Cheryl Cook (top left) has been with Dell’s partner program all the way — when it was born, through its adolescent years and now as a mature and well-run program that’s driving Dell into the future. Always smiling, Cheryl has an infectious energy and passion for Dell’s partners to succeed and deliver solutions that solve customers’ business and technology problems. She is easily the most recognized executive from Dell Technologies’ partner team and never hesitates to speak at partner events. Above all, she takes the time to listen to partners and then brings those learnings to her team to constantly strive to improve programs. 

Mike Cullen, VP Sales and Customer Retention for SolarWinds MSP

Mike Cullen (right) is a true pioneer. He defined what it takes to successfully sell managed services back in the early 2000s as part of N-able Technologies’ executive team and continues to cement his legacy with SolarWinds MSP. Mike’s signature style and commitment to sales excellence and the customer experience – which includes people, process, partnership and product – helped create many of the world’s most successful MSPs and attract more than 20,000 channel partners to SolarWinds MSP. A natural-born leader, visionary and teacher, Mike spearheaded SolarWinds MSP’s popular MSP Institute, and, as an advocate for peer-to-peer learning and partnership, also inspired the MSP Advice Project. Many of the MSP elite that define and inspire greatness in our industry hold Mike and his vison, voice and best practices in the highest regard.
Peak Sales Recruiting's Ryan Moore
John DeLozier, Channel Chief for 8x8

Only at 8x8 for a year, John DeLozier (left) has done a lot to create process, structure and improve on support and sales operations and engagement. He has enhanced the sales culture and motivates masters to engage with him and his team. John is forward-thinking and visionary. He brings his larger-than-life personality to work every day and really understands that the channel is about people. Relationships are so important to ease of doing business, and in that sense, John epitomizes the channel chief that we all want to hang out with. He’s an advocate for diversity, too. Rock on.

Mario DeRiggi, Senior Vice President, Channel Sales and Business Development for Vonage Business

Mario (top right) hit the ground running when Vonage appointed him senior vice president of national sales and operations. He’s made it his top priority to spread the message of why his company should be the lead partner for both the channel and customers. As far as his commitment to partners, he tells us he’ll never be satisfied with how easy Vonage is to do business with. That’s music to our partners’ ears.

J.P. Dundas, Director, North America Channel Sales for Fuze

"In my mind, J.P. Dundas (bottom right) launched the Fuze channel — before his tenure, the company wasn’t channel friendly," one master agent representative told Channel Partners. Partners now have a great enterprise platform with outstanding technology. In fact, Dundas credits having a product that is “very seamless and very user-friendly.” Together with a top-notch channel program, it’s a great combination for partners looking to move customers to the cloud. J.P. is seen as fair, and a friend to masters as well.
Lastline's Jarrett Miller
Tiffany Dunn, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships for LogMeIn

Tiffany Dunn (right) has singlehandedly changed the LogMeIn/Jive relationship. She listened to complaints, made changes and stood behind the channel 100 percent. Because of her efforts, one master agent/distributor tells Channel Partners its sales have increased dramatically. Operationally, Tiffany understands the need for training, fast response by localized support teams – aka “pods” – and reaffirming LogMeIn’s commitment to the channel sales model for longtime Jive partners.

Gerri Elliott, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer for Cisco

Gerri Elliott (left) has combined the Cisco sales, marketing and channel teams into one organization, providing increased coordination, collaboration and an all-around better partner experience. Under Gerri, Cisco is also the first company to put a significant emphasis on the customer experience — shifting its partner technical specializations to business specialization with rewards for partners, putting in place the people, processes and systems to ensure customer success.

Karl Fahrbach, Chief Partner Officer for SAP

Karl Fahrbach (middle) is perhaps the industry’s first partner head to carry the title of chief partner officer. This shows SAP's serious commitment to partners. Karl continues the strategy of delivering solutions for intelligent enterprises and rapidly building on the initiative begun by his predecessor. He not only relies on his rich experience within SAP and the partner community, but also is listening to what partners are asking for.
Many faces
Nick Fan, Vice President of Sales, Americas for Cato Networks

Aryaka’s loss was Cato Networks’ gain. Nick Fan (left) is persistent in challenging the channel to embrace next-generation products and services. He displays honesty, integrity and hard work in building brands, and that no doubt has helped Cato gain some high-profile wins in the partnership arena, including entrée into RingCentral’s elite SD-WAN club. He’s seen as a straight-shooter who's helping Cato to make gains in a crowded U.S. SD-WAN and security market.

Craig Fulton, Chief Customer Officer for ConnectWise

Craig Fulton (top right) was employee No. 30 at ConnectWise, and over the last 12 years, he has worked his way up from a field engineer to a manager in the software team, right into the C-suite. Craig is very clear: His job isn’t customer support, but customer success. The tricky part is that everyone’s definition of success is different, so every partner he helps succeed is following a different road map and set of rules. While the cash from the Thoma Bravo buyout of ConnectWise earlier this year will bring some cool investments, don’t let Craig fool you. He’s most excited about the fact that the company gets its name on the side of the building. Finally.

Carolee Gearhart, Vice President, Worldwide Channel Sales for Google Cloud

How does Carolee Gearhart (bottom right)build on a storied career at Adaptive Insights, SAP and GE Digital? By joining Google. Known for her views on the “incredible partner” – what makes a partner a real success with customers – Carolee has a unique background as a sales, customer success and OEM leader. She has deep financial knowledge and understands how to craft a commercial value proposition that is both compelling and fresh, while holding to her corporate financial goals. In Silicon Valley, the channel can sometimes be seen as “just a procurement source.” Not under Carolee. She’s an evangelist for the transformation partners can and should drive with customers — oh, and how Google enables that. Operationally, she has an exceptional ability to use digitization and application environs to create unique selling propositions and is investing at Google in ensuring partners can participate in the seed change happening in the industry. Final thought: People leave other companies to come work for her. She is that kind of gifted leader. (Editor's Note: Don't miss Gearhart's keynote at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 9-12, in Washington. D.C. Register now.)
Many faces
Garrett Gee, Vice President, Indirect, Strategic Partnerships & Alliances for CenturyLink

Garrett Gee (right) was a great channel chief at Level 3, and he’s taken his expertise and signature ease of doing business to CenturyLink. Garrett truly listens to partners, and he addressed hurdles head on when dealing with the Level 3 acquisition. Not many leaders would have been so calm, cool and collected during one of the largest M&As in the history of the channel. He has been a rock and has proven to be a positive influence through the journey.

Tina Gravel, SVP of Global Channels and Alliances for Cyxtera

Cyxtera's Tina Gravel (bottom left) is a whirlwind of hair, activity and banter, but don’t let the deprecating humor and breezy façade fool you: This woman made her bones in a male-dominated data center industry and is as savvy as they come when crafting channel programs that make partners want to buy what she’s selling. “If you sold it, it’s yours” is more than a catch phrase. Tina knows everyone and is always willing to mentor or make connections. As a leader in Cloud Girls, she lifts up women working to make it in the channel.

Fielder Hiss, Vice President of Product for Continuum

Fielder (top left) has more than 15 years as an entrepreneurial executive and significant focus in product strategy and management, product marketing, strategic planning and sales. He arrived at Continuum in 2017, the same year the company opened up its own SOC, expanding its managed security offerings and allowing MSPs wanting to "add the S" and evolve to MSSPs to have an outsourced Continuum security operations center. Fielder’s hand in navigating the product strategy has also given the company the road map to expand to a full-service business management solution suite that helps take the burden of operations off of the overloaded shoulders of busy MSPs.

AireSpring's Shane Speakman
Paul Hunter, Head, Worldwide Partner Sales for HPE

In a very short time at the helm of HPE’s partner organization, Paul Hunter (left) has revamped the partner go-to-market strategy by focusing on partner intimacy, experience and empathy. HPE is in a tough competitive landscape, and its partners need all the support they can get to continue to maintain loyalty and deliver solutions for their customers. Paul has set his organization on a course that should help partners and customers transform in the “as-a-service” era.

Richard Jalkut, CEO, TPx

Dick (right) is quite simply a cornerstone in the channel community. What can we say? He truly understands the importance of delivering an unparalleled support model to partners and customers. Reliability and consistency are the benchmarks of the TPx pedigree, thanks to Dick’s steadfast leadership. But he’s never resting on his laurels. Several years ago, Dick saw a need to revamp and made the decision to completely change TPx from the ground, and name, on up. A full rebrand is a challenging decision for any CEO. But under Dick’s leadership and direction, the hard work paid off. TPx is now a premier national MSP — and our only company with an exec on this list to cross over to the MSP 501.

Michelle Kadlacek, Vice President, Channel Partner Program for Spectrum

Michelle (middle) is a seasoned and disciplined channel leader with a deep background ranging from Delta to Windstream. But what makes her unique isn’t the experience. Most of the folks on this list have that. It’s her spirit. She is public about becoming a cancer survivor at a very young age who had to learn early to balance work and personal life to survive. She has served as a beacon to women in our industry who struggle to achieve balance while focusing on their careers. She is an advocate and a member of many women’s leadership groups. As a channel executive with Spectrum Enterprise, she is known for being fair, decisive and innovative in both her programs and her approach to partner management. The relationship is everything to Michelle; it’s how she has built out a platform of authenticity and trust in the channel that has led her and her team to great success.
AireSpring's Shane Speakman
Colleen Kapase, Vice President, Worldwide Partner & Alliances for Snowflake

Colleen Kapase (right), who moved to data warehouse Snowflake in June, made the list for driving sweeping changes to the partnering models and programs at VMware, which is itself on the move. In an effort to increase cloud transition and adoption, Colleen restructured the partner segmentation — moving from label “ISV” to verb “build.” She also shook up financial compensation structures and program requirements and benefits. 

Carl Katz, Vice President of Channel Sales, North America for Nextiva

Carl Katz (middle) is an experienced sales leader in building both direct and channel teams. Carl has an ability to motivate and bring people together while staying laser-focused on the strategic direction of his company. He’s upfront about the fact that partners have many choices –  M&A activity has been a real factor – and that it’s on him to differentiate Nextiva by providing education and consistent messaging. A very competitive partner package doesn’t hurt, either. He’s known for honesty, investing in talent and working to build long-term relationships.

Peter Kerr, Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Zerto

Peter Kerr (left) serves as Zerto's vice president of global alliances with a passion nurtured through almost 20 years in the IT industry. He’s known for his energy in working with strategic partners and Zerto leadership to open and grow new markets and business opportunities. It’s no accident, for example, that under Peter’s leadership Zerto created a program to pay partners who are also Microsoft Certified resellers up to $15,000 to create proofs of concept and customer strategies that bundle Zerto’s IT Resilience Platform with Azure deployments. That move was driven by data and a willingness to invest in partners’ long-term success. Other strategic moves partners are excited about include new perpetual licensing options and deals with VMware and HPE.
Nextiva's Trevis Schuh
Mike LaPeters, VP, Global Channels for AT&T Cybersecurity

Mike LaPeters (bottom left) seems to be a magnet for companies hungry to acquire the tech he sells. He’s helped five channel programs navigate acquisitions over the past 10 years, most recently when AT&T bought cybersecurity provider AlienVault last year. Mike is a firm advocate of face-to-face interaction and the benefit of getting to know partners and their businesses on a personal level, and the connections he’s made throughout his 13-year career are testament to his ability to both guide large-scale operations and connect one-on-one with customers. The security community can sniff out posers. The respect Mike attracts at AT&T Cybersecurity from MSSPs and his peers speaks for itself.

Kevin Leonard, Vice President, Alternate Channels for AT&T

Kevin (right) listens and thoughtfully develops forward-thinking programs, proving his flexibility to create new structures based on feedback and ideas. Under his leadership and thanks to his knowledge, AT&T’s operations, sales system improvements and speed for new routes to market are faster than anyone else in the channel. That’s impressive given the number of elements in the AT&T Partner Solutions portfolio. Paired with cutting-edge tech coming out of the Foundries, Kevin has positioned his partners well for the challenges of a digital future.

Chris Lewter, Vice President and GM for Verizon

In his 16 years with the company, Chris Lewter (top left) has done a lot for Verizon, especially around integrating XO. Chris has taken the lead on educating partners on IoT and 5G — which he says will “blow the channel’s mind.” That eye to the future is exactly what partners, especially those serving SMBs, need. His energy and genuine enthusiasm for what tech can accomplish are infectious. With Chris in the room, the Verizon catchphrase “what’s possible” really comes to life.
SIP services
John Lindsley, VP and Channel Chief for Mitel

John Lindsley (top right) has transformed the attitudes of hardware-centric people at Mitel and showed them that the channel can be a revolutionary place for cloud-based sales. In the short time he has served as channel chief, John has doubled his sales team and put the right people in place, from operations and marketing to sales, to improve the master, partner and customer experience. Improving the organizational structure, where masters now have dedicated account management, has enhanced everything from quoting to support for channel managers — all of which greatly helps the partner and ultimately the end customer.

Elissa J. Livingston, Vice President, Business Development for Cloudcheckr

Elissa (bottom right) is truly a channel advocate. She has consistently driven the value of the channel and advocated engagement among distributors, partners and the ecosystem vendors that fall into her orbit, primarily AWS and Microsoft. What’s that? Don’t know CloudCheckr? You should. It’s a valuable tool that can discover cloud resources that are hidden or underutilized. By some estimates, shadow IT consumes 10-20 percent of cloud spend. What customer wouldn’t want to get a handle on that? And thanks to Elissa, partners can offer that service with a smile.

Zane Long, SVP, Global Channels for RingCentral

One master agent told Channel Partners that in the past two years, its RingCentral revenue has seen exponential growth. While the master will take credit for some of that, two strategies that Zane Long (left) implemented have definitely accelerated that progress. First, he instituted “Channel Harmony,” whereby partners and direct reps can work on closing deals together without conflict. Second, his reps will call a customer directly, without the partner, for deals registered under 100 seats. This was taken in the channel as a very negative thing at the time, not to include the partner in customer discussions — but it works. It’s like having another sales rep working for you. Because Zane has built trust, the master's partners are more successful with RingCentral.
Nextiva's Trevis Schuh
Melissa McCoy, VP of Channel Sales for Flexential

There was a lot of buzz last year when Flexential named Melissa McCoy (top right) VP of channel sales. Melissa is known around the industry as an executive leader who has an ability to focus on process improvement while building a channel program that is positioned for success now and in the future. After all, she helped merge the Peak10 and ViaWest channel programs, not to mention a major rebranding, without missing a beat. She's now pivoted to simplifying and improving the partner experience with a focus on enablement. You won’t find a master agent that’s not a fan of how Melissa is flexing the Flexential assets to enable partners to bring customers into the digital age.

Ken McCray, Head of Channel Sales and Operations for the Americas, McAfee

It’s a challenging time for big, established security providers. Talent is tough to find and keep, and small, nimble startups are jostling for partner mindshare. Under Ken’s (left) leadership, McAfee’s program is thriving. Ken has a long history of supporting partners and making things happen at McAfee. His achievements with the company include creating the accelerated deal registration program and portal, which now is used globally by more than 30,000 partners; expanding routes to market via security innovation alliances and MSPs; and launching the Partner Care team in Bangalore to provide back-office support to more than 8,500 reseller partners and distributors. It’s that sort of innovation that keeps MSPs loyal. And it doesn’t hurt a company contemplating an IPO, either.

Lisa Heritage McLin, Vice President of North America Channel Sales & Alliances for Rackspace

“Accountant turned channel chief” is not a typical bio for this list, but for Lisa Heritage McLin, it’s fact. In her 16 years at Rackspace, Lisa (bottom right) worked her way up from accounting to the leader of the channel and alliances. How? Determination and many important rotations through business development, sales strategy and channel units. The result is a very well-rounded VP who knows the cloud (you could say she was born there), the financial elements of the channel, and what it takes to get a team to perform in a whole new category (don’t forget that RackSpace has reinvented itself a few times). Lisa chairs the Power the RackSpace group to support women in a male-dominated field and sits on the board of the Texas Conference for Women, a prestigious, annual one-day conference featuring inspirational keynote speakers, breakout sessions and valuable networking opportunities. She’s been a role model for women climbing the leadership ladder, and as missions go, we’re full-on supportive of hers.
Telesystem's Karlene Langford
Colleen McMillan, Vice President, Global Channel Sales for F5 Networks

During Colleen’s (bottom right) short tenure at networking and security supplier F5, she has improved on an already strong channel strategy and delivered increased value for F5’s solid and loyal partner base. A proven channel leader from her previous roles at Gemalto, Qlik, Citrix and VMWare, Colleen began by ensuring that F5 fully understood its partners: What was working, what wasn’t working, and how to proactively invest to drive greater partner growth and success in a space that is constantly changing, with new products and new license and subscription models. Direct feedback from partners drove the first partner Enterprise License Agreement models, ensuring a strong partner deal-registration component to protect the partner’s investment. And, in addition to meeting and listening to more than 100 partners globally within her first 90 days on board, Colleen launched the inaugural annual Voice of the Partner (VOP) survey globally, with almost 2,000 individuals providing unbiased feedback. Then she took that data and made a case for increasing investment in dollars, tools and channel-dedicated resources. 

John Muscarella, Senior Director of Sales and Channel Programs for Cox Business

John Muscarella (top left) took a very complex channel program, where every region had its own contract, commissions and marketing, and somehow hammered it all into one cohesive package. Cox is now a streamlined organization with excellent processes in place. Very simply, Muscarella invested in his people and fixed what was broken. And, the company is adding some big-name customers, notably the soon-to-launch Las Vegas Raiders NFL franchise. Game on.

Scott Musson, Vice President, Global Strategic Alliances for Red Hat

Scott Musson (bottom left) has carved an interesting niche, and not only for himself. He is building a strong partner organization focused on delivering better business outcomes to midmarket end customers. Musson is not a newcomer to the partner community, but he is paving a way for Red Hat to be a newcomer in the partner-centric technology firmament even as it navigates new ownership by IBM. His job is not easy: Red Hat traditionally has been an enterprise-focused organization selling mostly through big global systems integrators. He has had to start from first principles to building a partner program. He's actively taking input, understanding best practices, building alliances and launching outreach campaigns.
Bhatnagar, Atul_Cambium
Ayesha Prakash, Senior Director of Global Channels for Flashpoint

Ayesha Prakash (top left) knows how to craft a channel strategy that accelerates revenue and customer success. Her background is slightly unique among peers, in a good way. First, Ayesha started her career in advertising and has brought that marketing and demand-generation focus to bear. The numbers tell the tale: She joined Flashpoint in early 2017. In 2016, less than 10 percent of the company’s business was indirect. Flashpoint ended 2017 with over 30 percent indirect — over 200 percent to goal. The program Ayesha built grew even more exponentially in 2018, with 45 percent of the business now indirect at a global scale — in regions like EMEA and Latin America, that ticks up to 100 percent. In addition, her thought leadership in the male-dominated security and surrounding big-data space shows she can walk the tech walk. As a member of Rutgers’ Cyber Security and Big Data Advisory Councils, she holds prestigious roles at one of the largest universities in the Northeast — although at heart, she remains a Hoosier. In sum, a unique mix of advertising, marketing, technical and leadership chops give us confidence that she’ll get Flashpoint to 100% channel-centricity. And probably sooner than you think.

Rob Rae, VP, Business Development for Datto

We dare you to find one person in the managed services field who doesn’t know Rob Rae (bottom left). He has helped build Datto into the billion-dollar business it is today one partner at a time. Constantly on the move around the world, Rob has an intuitive understanding of how different company and geographical cultures impact each individual MSP’s business. He never forgets a face or a conversation — though we’re sure there’s one or two he’d like to. (Ask him someday about the MSP who said Datto should back up the human brain or go belly up.)

Christopher Rajiah, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Alliances and Partnerships for Alert Logic

Chris Rajiah (right) has spent 25 years in technology, serving mostly in sales and marketing roles at companies ranging from Equinix to Trax. Now SVP of worldwide alliances and partnerships at Alert Logic, his is a voice to heed when it comes to the future of the channel. So when he says he sees many instances of agents and MSPs collaborating, people listen. To continue to hold customers in the face of an emerging “shadow channel” that for security-focused MSPs includes some big-name legal firms, there’s no end run around being able to pull together unified solutions to meet complex needs. Under Chris’ leadership, Alert Logic is embracing all partner types — and setting a high bar for rivals.
Managed Services Tools
Kevin Rooney, Vice President, Americas, Channel Sales, Veeam

Veeam is an MSP favorite – it was named favorite BDR supplier for 50 percent of the MSP 501 – and Kevin Rooney (right) aims to keep it that way. The company has always been 100% channel and under Kevin’s watch has worked with big names like Cisco, ExaGrid, HPE, Microsoft, NetApp, Nutanix and VMware, as well as hot startups like Wasabi, to help partners move upmarket to enterprise customers with minimal channel conflict. At VeeamON this year we heard that the company is adding 4,000 new customers every month and posted bookings of $1 billion. Judging by how much partners like the pace of improvements to the product paired with the stability and completeness of the channel program under Kevin’s leadership, we see nothing but green skies ahead.

Craig Schlagbaum, Vice President, Indirect Channels for Comcast Business

From an operations perspective, Craig Schlagbaum (middle) runs the smoothest cable channel program going. But it hasn’t always been so. In fact, under his watch, Comcast went from being the hardest cableco to work with, to what one master agent told Channel Partners is the easiest. He’s a channel pillar, providing stability when most suppliers lurch around, modifying their programs to see what sticks. Not that he’s standing still. Craig rolled out the IPSM program to help reengage partners, demonstrating his ability to innovate and iterate within a well-established and thriving program. The fact that he’s clocked almost 30 years in various indirect channel positions in sales, marketing and business development with everyone from Ingram Micro to NTT/Verio, Qwest Communications, IBM, Sony and Intelligent Electronics helps, of course. But what makes the difference is that he listens to feedback and implements suggested changes. Craig has been a constant force and is always innovating to make partners' lives easier.

Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President One Commercial Partner, Channel Chief for Microsoft

In her 23 years, Gavriella Schuster (left) has made Microsoft the premier organization enabling partners in a cloud model — pioneering new compensation models, transition training and customer success initiatives. She impresses with her vision that today’s world requires a new level of partnering. Channels used to be about a linear supply chain with each partner playing a distinct role — thus the “swim lanes” we hear about. In today’s models, the roles are blended together, and we need to facilitate partner-to-partner-to-partner-to-customer-to-partner partnerships. Gavriella is leading this movement.

Managed Services Tools
Eric Stark, Director of Sales, Global Business Solutions for Viasat Business

Eric (left) has done a great job of going from just running the Viasat channel to hiring a rock-star field sales team that’s well-aligned with master agency field sales teams for excellent coverage and partnership. He’s also done an excellent job mindfully growing the Viasat B2B business and shedding the image of satellite as a last-ditch, spendy option for rural and hard-to-serve areas. Partners now see satellite as a viable broadband connection for demanding business applications like VoIP. That sort of perception shift doesn’t happen by accident.

Curt Stratton, Sr. Director of Distribution for Fortinet

Over the past two years that Curt Stratton (bottom right) has led Fortinet’s distribution strategy, he has quickly proven his ability to improve operational efficiencies — and deliver best-in-class customer experience. One distributor told Channel Partners that Stratton's efforts toward collaboration to cascade knowledge of distribution’s value to the Fortinet channel team has helped deliver net-new partners and channel growth. Curt is relentless with connecting Fortinet’s solution groups to market new programs, increasing value to channel partners in areas such as cloud and HWAS. Curt is exceptional at leveraging the power of distribution to harness channel growth while optimizing the overall customer experience — positioning Fortinet and its partners well for the future.

Suzanne Swanson, Vice President of Worldwide Channel Sales for Trustwave

Trustwave is a world leader in managed security, holding a coveted "leaders" spot on the Gartner Magic Quadrant and operating in 96 countries worldwide. Still, it’s relatively new to our channel, even as security represents a red-hot opportunity. Since Suzanne Swanson (top right) started with Trustwave in January as global channel and alliances Leader, she already has made a positive impact. She has participated in panels at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas and is very involved in educational programs around the U.S. and in London.  Also, she’s very accessible to our partners.  She’ll jump in personally to help solve problems — a rare trait for a VP at a multinational company.
RapidScale's Andrew Laughter
John G. Teltsch Jr., GM, IBM Partner Ecosystem for IBM

It is quite evident that a key factor in IBM’s partner program’s momentum and transformation has been John Teltsch’s (left) leadership. He has been listening, responding and committing to having the channel partner’s back. A Techaisle study of channel partners shows that 52 percent of partners want their vendor partner channel chiefs to set a clear overall strategy, and 44 percent value trustworthiness and accountability. John gets a check mark on both these value traits. Within the last year he has launched a series of initiatives to deliver enriching partner experiences, enhance skills, reduce conflicts and above all, implement partner NPS. His commitment to delivering revenue/margin targets, taking share and listening to their satisfaction has been unwavering. He has been a vocal advocate of partners’ needs to his internal senior executive leadership team.

Nick Tidd, Vice President, Global Channel Sales for Poly

Nick (top right) has done an amazing job bringing together two enormous companies — Plantronics and Polycom — and rationalizing their channel models, frameworks and programs. He has successfully integrated very diverse cultures of these two organizations, keeping the partners in both ecosystems engaged and excited about the new Poly. He has earned the trust of both partner ecosystems during this time of confusion, change and uncertainty. Kudos.

Jeff Van Natter, Director of Distribution for Trend Micro

At the beginning of 2019, Jeff Van Natter (bottom right) was appointed director of distribution at market-leading security service player Trend Micro. In his new role, he quickly made an impact by harnessing the opportunity to expand the company’s enterprise portfolio across the channel into new distribution markets. Jeff leveraged his enterprise experience to implement innovative lead-generation programs as well as to initiate solution architecture workshops aimed at helping partners identify business-outcome challenges that they can help mitigate against. Jeff has quickly proven his ability to lead and innovate, delivering best-in-channel customer collaboration. Trend Micro’s commitment to a partner-first, connected world strategy has never been stronger.

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