CRN Exclusive: Microsoft Veteran Channel Exec Jenni Flinders Is Leaving

Jenni Flinders, vice president of Microsoft's U.S. Partner Group, is leaving after 15 years at the company, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed to CRN Thursday.

"We thank her for her service and wish her well," said the Microsoft spokesperson, adding that the company is actively searching for her replacement.

Flinders wasn't immediately available for comment, and it's unclear where she's headed next. In a Facebook post Wednesday, which was viewed by CRN, Flinders said "And so, my new adventure begins."

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Flinders joined Microsoft in 2000 after stints working for IBM and Lotus in South Africa, where she was raised. She spent her first two years at Microsoft in its South Africa subsidiary, overseeing marketing initiatives for its Enterprise Partner Group (EPG), according to her LinkedIn profile.

Flinders was appointed regional lead for Microsoft's Latin America headquarters in 2003, and joined the Worldwide Partner Group in 2005 as chief of staff for former Microsoft channel chief Allison Watson.

Flinders, who has been in her current role since 2009, oversees Microsoft's efforts to get more of its 640,000-plus channel partners selling cloud services.

Flinders' role includes helping partners "evolve to ensure Microsoft customers reap the benefits of new opportunities presented by the cloud and emerging technologies," according to her LinkedIn profile.

Chris Hertz, CEO of New Signature, a Microsoft partner in Washington, D.C., described Flinders as having been "enormously important" to his company's development as a nationally focused business.

"She is a powerful presence within the Microsoft partner community, and a real champion," Hertz told CRN. "She also has been a huge proponent of diversity at Microsoft and within the partner channel."

Ric Opal, vice president at Peters & Associates, a Microsoft partner in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., said Flinders was "instrumental" in helping Microsoft shape the future course for its U.S. partners.

"The tools Jenni helped put in place were important to our shift to the cloud," Opal told CRN.

Opal said one example is the Microsoft Partner Investment Engine (PIE) initiative, which debuted last July at the Worldwide Partner Conference. PIE is a portal where partners can see which Microsoft channel investment offers they qualify for. Previously, they had to visit a bunch of different sites to figure this out.

Matt Scherocman, president of Interlink Cloud Advisors, a Cincinnati-based Microsoft partner, told CRN that he's eager to see who the software giant will appoint as Flinders' replacement.

"I think Satya Nadella has done a wonderful job thus far. The appointment of Jenni's replacement will be a critical indicator of his commitment to the channel as the go forward strategy," Scherocman said in an email.