Here’s How 20 Channel Chiefs Describe Their Personal Channel Philosophy

Channel executives on the CRN 2023 Channel Chiefs list were asked to describe their personal channel philosophy. From what they see as the channel’s role to how best to work with partners, here’s what 20 channel chiefs had to say.

Deep Channel Thoughts

Channel executives are charged with managing a company’s relationships with its channel partners, both on a day-to-day basis and for the strategic long term. But truly effective channel chiefs go beyond “channel management” and think more deeply about vendor-channel partner relationships and what makes them successful.

As part of the CRN Channel Chiefs 2023 project, we asked the nearly 600 channel executives that made the list to describe their personal channel philosophy. Here’s what 20 had to say.

11:11 Systems

Koorosh Khashayar

VP, Global Channel

Regardless of what designation a seller has or how they describe themselves, whether it’s VAR, MSP, TSB or TA, a seller is a partner first and foremost. A partnership is a two-way street and many partner programs fail to understand how they can help a partner grow. ‘Your success is my success’ is what [my] personal philosophy is based on.

Donna Grothjan

VP, Worldwide Channels

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Partners are the at the heart of enabling customers, whether through providing technology or services. No single company can meet 100 percent of customers’ needs and so partners are absolutely essential. In my view, partners are not an extension of our sales force; instead, we are part of their ecosystems. We must provide and enable value creation for partners every day in order to earn and maintain our position with them.


Ko Mistry

Head of Global Channels

A successful channel is defined by the balance of partners’ business growth and shared customers’ success. No key performance indicator can more accurately reflect the health of the channel than customer reach and growth. Our partners are unlocking access to the gamut of customer touchpoints: marketing, sales, support, services, etc., and accelerating Atlassian’s solution footprint in the enterprise space. As Atlassian continues to invest heavily in [the] channel, a key differentiator and sure advantage in the market, we intend to shift from guiding the channel to taking our lead from them by listening, learning and supporting their evolving business needs.


Anthony Adebanjo

Sr. Director, Channel Programs

Simply, it’s imperative to be the simplest manufacturer to do business with. We have simplified our tools, our processes and our scalability to allow partners to interact with simpler and more defined growth metrics. I will always ensure that we treat our partners with parity and ensure each and every one has the utmost chance of success in our partnership. By creating the right environment for that to happen, Checkmarx provides partners with the utmost chance of success in our partnership. My philosophy is that successful channels must successfully combine a well-structured program framework with the right amount of program flexibility.

Cisco Systems

Oliver Tuszik

SVP, Global Partner Sales, GM, Routes To Market

Customers reacted to a rapidly changing environment the last few years, which created risk and complexity. Today, they want more control of their business outcomes with automation and self-serve capabilities. Partners play an even bigger role in meeting this need. This is the ‘Age of the Partner,’ which requires a different approach. We need to partner early, with new types of partners, and even with companies we viewed as competitors. We must sell together differently, based on the customer’s desired outcomes and preferred consumption motion. And we will need new delivery models across the life cycle.

Comcast Business and Masergy

Craig Schlagbaum

SVP, Indirect Channels

Treat your partner as your customer. In this model, there is no end-user sale without them. I believe that the best channel leaders are the ones who know and understand their partners—and for that reason I have flown over 100,000 miles a year for the last 20 years to spend time with them, understanding their unique needs and issues. The channel is a relationship-oriented business and most of our partners are very entrepreneurial. It takes an understanding of their values and goals to know how to best serve them and their customers.


Marc Zarella

VP, Head of Revenue, Partnerships

Take away the barriers of entry for channel partners to sell your product. Don’t ask them to increase head count or overly spend on training staff. Provide them the resources (marketing, sales engineers, etc.) so they can concentrate on building and maintaining the end-customer relationship.


Michael Rogers

VP, Global Alliances, Channel Chief

I have always viewed partnering as a dial, not a switch. I’m looking at every facet of a partnership—whether it’s paths to profitability, systems engineer engagement or customer-facing activities that drive new opportunities for us and our partners. I am always looking for ways to work together to center the customer in everything we do. Having this customer-centric focus creates value and enhances paths to profitability. This comes down to relationships developed from seller to seller, manager to manager, and leader to leader across the organization. My philosophy is there’s always room for improvement.


Kate Woolley

GM, Ecosystem

The Ecosystem is the most powerful force in the technology industry today—no company can be successful without a thriving ecosystem. We need to have a partner-first mindset and model in order to win with clients in the channel. We can only do this by becoming essential to our partners’ business and making it easier for our partners to do business with us.

Intermedia Cloud Communications

Jonathan McCormick

COO, Head of Sales

We wouldn’t have achieved our success if it weren’t for our partners and our channel-first approach. When we say, ‘We Work FOR Our Partners,’ we really mean it and don’t take it for granted. We make sure we provide easy-to-sell, deploy and manage solutions, and are there every step of the way for our partners— from presales through to post [sales]—with the sales, on-boarding, marketing and technical support they need to be successful. And we do this all through partner programs that maximize partner opportunity, revenue and customer ownership.


Pascal Bourget

VP, Channel Chief, COO, International Markets

I believe the channel is the steady heartbeat in an ever-changing world. Combining passion to make the world a better place and challenge conventions, the channel demands evolution. Simply put, without the channel, the toughest obstacles would go without solutions. I work with the channel in many capacities and throughout many regions of the world—in North America, in EMEA, and in the UK—and I enjoy each and every one of my interactions with our partners. They make me love my job more every day.


Nina Harding

Corporate VP, Global Partners Solutions U.S.

Partners are the fuel that drives the growth, satisfaction and innovation of our customers. Partners are the pivotal contributors to customer value realization. It is through honed specialized skills, trusted expertise and ongoing curiosity that Microsoft partners seek to drive the next generation of innovation—sharpening their industry knowledge and solution experience to drive the solutions of tomorrow for Microsoft customers.


Jenni Flinders

SVP, Worldwide Partner Organization

My personal philosophy is to be an advocate on behalf of the entire partner community and to listen to [them] and serve as their collective voice. Adding value and earning trust is paramount to building high-value, powerful partnerships that foster a thriving, evolving and innovative ecosystem. Actively leading and being passionate about helping partners achieve success improves collaboration and grows strong, long-lasting connections. Businesses prosper because real people, real stories and real connections inspire excellence that drives innovation. I am motivated by working with others who are passionate about positive change and learning from others while constantly evolving to thrive.

OpenText Cybersecurity

Justin Gilbert

Sr. Director, MSP Channel Development, Cybersecurity

My fundamental belief is that we as vendors need to be good stewards of the channel to help our partners grow and expand their own footprint. This means taking the time to understand their business objectives and then coming alongside them to help grow their business. This starts with creating efficiencies, like providing channel partners with a one-stop-shop for all their customers’ productivity and cyber-resilience needs and extends to include sales and marketing and renewals support, as well as helping partners discover how to increase and expand their profits through cross-sell, verticalization and more.

Palo Alto Networks

Tom Evans

VP, Worldwide Channel Sales Strategy

Channel partners play a critical role throughout the customer life cycle, from the initial qualifying stage to ultimately ensuring the successful deployment and adoption of our technology. Because of the immense value that partners provide, my channel philosophy has always been centered on enabling partners with the tools and resources they need to meet their customers’ unique security needs. Having worked with partners for many years while also having roles selling directly to end users, I am confident that any company that wants to successfully provide solutions to its customers must leverage the channel.


Joe Sykora

SVP, Worldwide Channel, Partner Sales

My personal channel philosophy is that the customer is always right, and we should always look to simplify our programs. This includes developing programs that maximize our partners’ revenues, protect them on margin and allow them to consume our technology how it best supports their needs.

Red Hat

Stefanie Chiras

SVP, Partner Ecosystem Success

For me, the ecosystem is a community of innovators, much like the open-source communities Red Hat is deeply engaged in. The end goal of the community, as a collective, is to drive new capability and deliver value to customers. The end goal of each member is to maximize their impact to that goal and to thrive. This is not about Red Hat being at the center. Our partners and customers, alongside us, are the essence of the ecosystem. Success depends on multiple partners working together to meet the unique needs of customers by co-creating together and by closing deals.

Scale Computing

Scott Mann

Global Channel Chief

We’re firm believers that the channel is an extension of our organization, and so we treat our partner community as such. In order for us to be successful, we need to ensure that our partner community is integrated with every aspect of our business—sales, marketing, product development, support and services, etc. Together, we provide a better product and experience to our customers.

Verizon Business

Wendy Taccetta

Channel Chief

I believe that in order to deliver a great customer experience we must have a great partner experience and to do this well, we must be easy to do business with. Through strong and diverse partnerships, I am committed to accelerating small-business growth, driving transformation across the ecosystem and fostering a culture of collaboration every day.


Ricky Cooper

VP, Head of Worldwide Partner, Commercial Organization

At its heart, the channel is about service. As a channel organization, we exist to serve our sales force, partners and end customers—our success is entirely and irrevocably tied to theirs. My channel philosophy asks for that service-first mindset at every inflection point, listening to customers, trusting partners and building solutions that provide value for life. Then, after bridging the gap between customer and partner, between desire and delivery, comes the faith to trust our solutions at scale. Because truly winning in the channel never happens alone.