In a fierce final matchup that ended with just a 2 percent margin separating two seasoned channel veterans, Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Terry Richardson emerged as the victor and champion of the 2017 CRN Channel Madness Tournament of Chiefs.
Richardson established an early lead that ultimately proved to be a key factor in his victory. His opponent, Janet Schijns of Verizon, threatened to overtake him with a late-game surge, but Richardson kept pace and hung on to win 51 percent to 49 percent.
Richardson's triumph marks the culmination of the third-annual CRN Channel Madness Tournament, which kicked of March 16 and ended April 5, pitting 32 of the industry's most influential channel chiefs in head-to-head battles where CRN readers vote to determine the victors.
[Related: 2017 CRN Channel Madness Tournament Coverage]
Richardson called his Channel Madness victory a testament to HPE's more than 30 years of channel leadership and commitment.
"It feels great," said Richardson, vice president of U.S. channel sales for HPE, who oversees all of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company's enterprise partner business across the country. "It is such a great validation of the terrific partners that HPE is blessed to have, backed up by an entire company fully committed to the channel from the senior management team to the field enablement organization and all our employees."
Terry Richardson, HPE
Richardson, a 30-year channel veteran, said he has worked with a number of companies over his career but none with the breadth, depth and unmatched channel commitment of HPE.
"HPE has a history of 30-plus years of being fully committed to partners and growing together with those partners," he said. "We have been through a lot of transitions in this industry, but we have always stayed true to the channel. And the company has never been more committed than we are today to channel partners. They know and appreciate that."
Al Chien, chief sales officer of Dasher Technologies, a Campbell, Calif.-based HPE Platinum partner, No. 170 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500, said he and his team were "proud" to vote for Richardson because of the veteran channel leader's channel-first mentality.
"Terry has been a constant friend to the channel," said Chien. "He has a good understanding of our business. He knows what it means to partner. He takes the time to understand what is important collectively to our businesses and the direction we both want to head. Every decision that Terry makes is first and foremost with partners in mind."
One of Richardson's great strengths is developing strong personal relationships with the channel, said Chien. "There are a lot of channel chiefs that don't take the time to get to know partners," he said. "That is not Terry. He wants to get to know partners on a personal level. He understands the true meaning of the word 'partnership:' It is ride or die together."