Channel programs News

CRN Exclusive: IBM Channel Chief Marc Dupaquier Leaving IBM To Work With Startups

Joseph Tsidulko

IBM's popular channel chief, Marc Dupaquier, is departing after 33 years with the technology giant, including the last four leading Big Blue's vast ecosystem of global channel partners and distributors. IBM veteran John Teltsch, no stranger to the company's channel, will replace Dupaquier.

While Dupaquier said he's "retiring" from IBM at the end of the month, don't expect to find him on a beach anytime soon. Instead, he'll be taking the opportunity to work with startups in what he'll only describe as a "different kind of IT project" that's a "passion" he's been working on pro bono in recent months.

Teltsch, who will formally replace Dupaquier (pictured) as IBM's general manager of global business partners, has held many sales leadership roles across IBM divisions in his 36-year career with the company. Those jobs, which have stationed him in many parts of the world, have often closely exposed him to IBM's partners, he told CRN in his first interview since the appointment.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: IBM Has A New Software Channel Leader]

IBM's channel has been transforming over recent years with the larger "cognitive transformation" of the 105-year-old technology giant based in Armonk, N.Y.

Dupaquier's biggest achievement was pulling together the disparate channel initiatives and programs scattered across IBM's hardware, software and service product groups under the IBM PartnerWorld umbrella, said Mark Wyllie, CEO of Flagship Solutions Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based solution provider and IBM channel partner.

"It felt like you were working with multiple companies called IBM," Wyllie said of the company before Dupaquier took the channel chief reins. Deal registration policies, back-end rebate programs and partner marketing strategies were different throughout the company: Wyllie noted, for example, that in hardware IBM representatives had to work with partners to get paid, while there was no such requirement on the software side.

"The 'one channel' was long overdue," Wyllie said of Dupaquier's accomplishment. "It was a challenge to get that done, to get most people on the same page."

Wyllie praised Teltsch's appointment as the new channel chief, saying he has "the background and the partner credibility" for the job. "I think he was a good choice," Wyllie said.

The challenge for Teltsch is not just continuing Dupaquier's work in consolidating IBM's channel efforts, but to make sure sales opportunities are passed along to partners as IBM has reorganized its field and channel sales groups and cut back its staffing levels. With fewer IBM regional representatives, Wyllie said, Teltsch's main task is "maximizing the role of the business partners to continue to grow the business in those IBM accounts."

"There's a bigger need for IBM partners to cover customer accounts now because there aren't as many IBM representatives to cover them," the Flagship CEO said.

In recent days, Dupaquier said he has started informing some partners of his impending departure. Many are encouraged that Teltsch is someone they also know well, he said.

Teltsch, currently serving as the general manager, transformation, global markets at IBM, told CRN that while transitions always pose challenges, IBM's long history has demanded the company excel at achieving continuity.

In his long career at Big Blue, Teltsch has spent 25 years in the systems or software groups, where the channel has always been a major factor in go-to-market strategy.

He's previously led IBM's Latin America organization and worked a few years in Spain running European software sales. Teltsch also ran sales for the Global Systems X group, an 80-percent channel business before its divestiture to Lenovo.

"I've been working with the channel for many years in many different roles in many geographies," he told CRN.

Since his selection as channel chief, Teltsch has had some conversations with large distributors and a few Tier 1 partners who heard rumors of his new position in the company.

With the appointment made public, he'll start reaching out to more partners, he said, including an upcoming trip to Europe to meet with distributors on that continent.

"Over the last four years, Marc set up the organization and it's been transforming every year. We cannot sit back on our laurels and wait for this transition," Teltsch told CRN. "The market is changing, and our partners are demanding we continue to transform."

"We have to listen to what our distributors want and what our largest partners want, and you can only do that being face-to-face with these companies," he added.

Dupaquier expects a smooth transition.

"This is something we have prepared very carefully," said the outgoing channel chief. "When you put so much time, energy, love into a channel as I did, you want to see it continue to work well."

IBM has also told CRN that Dorothy Copeland, previously a channel leader for Amazon Web Services, recently joined IBM as vice president of business partners for North America. Copeland takes the position vacated by Michele Stern in February. Neal Callahan had been temporarily filling the role since then.

Copeland, who's last position at AWS was general manager of global partner channels and alliances, will help lead IBM's efforts "to bring simplicity to the channel by helping business partners build skills, drive demand and increase growth," an IBM spokesperson told CRN.

Rick Whiting contributed to this story.

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