Level 3 Executive Changes Include New Channel Chief


Fresh off closing its acquisition of Global Crossing, Level 3 Communications named a new channel chief for the combined partner program and slotted one of its top channel executives into a new role focused on global business development.

Michael Jerich will now be leading all of Level 3's indirect programs, including business partners, VARs, systems integrators and strategic alliances, according to a Level 3 spokesman. His title is vice president, indirect channels, reporting to Andrew Crouch, regional president, North America sales.

It's a return of sorts for Jerich, who was vice president of sales at Level 3 until 2009, when he joined Global Crossing as vice president of channel sales. Level 3 completed its acquisition of Global Crossing earlier this month, creating a combined service provider that boasts more than 165,000 fiber route miles and a presence in more than 45 countries.

Nigel Williams, most recently senior vice president, enterprise sales and strategic alliances at Level 3, will now be joining Level 3's corporate business development and strategy team led by Charles "Buddy" Miller, Level 3's vice chairman. Williams' new title is vice president, business development, and he'll report to Kevin Dundon, senior vice president, wholesale markets.

Williams, well-known to the IT channel for the nearly eight years he spent as a Cisco channel chief, first joined Level 3 in 2008. In an interview with CRN this week, he described his new role as being less about tactical channel sales leadership and more around Level 3's longer-term partnerships.

"What we're going to do is create a function inside of business development where the focus is on long-term strategy around partnerships," Williams said. "That'll include what is our relationships with [vendors such as] Cisco, Avaya, Juniper, HP, and their partners. Our strategy today is to partner with their partners, and not necessarily compete with them, which we believe is the right strategy."

Jerich's job is the channel chief role, focused on day-to-day execution, Williams explained. It's Jerich who now heads the combined Level 3-Global Crossing channel programs, though Williams said Level 3's interest in indirect channels is part of the broad company strategy.

"We absolutely need to look at how to create a competitive advantage for Level 3, and optimal routes to market," Williams said. "We're definitely making that a consideration of the value-added reseller and SI channels on a global basis."

Among other moves within Level 3's channel organization, Wayne Dietrich, formerly Level 3's vice president of channel sales, is now vice president of VARs, system integrators and strategic alliances, reporting to Jerich.

The ongoing convergence of the IT VAR and telecom agent channels has many of the major service providers, particularly CLECs and cable companies, rethinking their strategies for partnering with VARs.

Level 3's channel program has been one of the industry's best-reviewed in recent years, in part because, as Williams described to CRN earlier this year, it shies away from reseller agreements with the major networking vendors in order to minimize channel conflict and competition with the VARs with which it seeks to partner.