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CRN Exclusive: Tech Data’s New President Of The Americas Takes On Partner Needs

‘We want to make sure we are investing in the right areas, accelerating in the right areas, to meet the needs of the channel partners. That means speaking to as many of our channel partners as possible,’ John O’Shea, Tech Data’s president of the Americas, tells CRN.

John O’Shea, Tech Data’s new president of the Americas, said partners must have the ability to reach into the tool set that the distributor is creating and customize it to the needs of their business, in order to drive efficiencies in areas of the business that are inherently complex.

“We believe that we can make significant investments that differentiate us even further from the competition, while at the same time making it easier for our channel partners to focus on what they’re best at and leverage us where they need do,” O’Shea told CRN in his first public comments since taking the new role. “Platforms are a huge part of that.”

It begins with realizing that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for Tech Data’s partners, he said.

“We all know that channel partners come from different perspectives and have different backgrounds. Some of them have started in networking. Some of them were born in the cloud,” O’Shea said. “We’ve got to make those tools flexible and adaptable to their business models and that has been a central theme in the investments we’re making.”

[RELATED: Tech Data CEO Rich Hume On The Apollo Deal, $750M Digital Transformation And ‘State of The Art’ StreamOne Platform]

O’Shea started his career at the massive tier two distributor in 2001, then left to run the value-added reseller Vology for nearly four years, only to be pulled back in by his mentor, Joe Quaglia. Quaglia, who had been president of the Americas since 2013 and with Tech Data since 2006, announced his retirement, with O’Shea named as his replacement on Thursday.

“Some people know this, but when I was outside of Tech Data and then had the opportunity to come back to Tech Data, Joe was the reason,” O’Shea said. “I worked for Joe before I left and and went out to be a channel partner and the opportunity to come back and work with Joe was a big part of that. He’s been a mentor of mine for a number of years. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him and learned from him. This is a natural progression. From my perspective, Joe has given me the strongest foundation that anyone could ask for to go build on.”

Having worked for years and developed strategy alongside Quaglia, O’Shea said has made for a smooth succession. However his time on the outside as a partner, where he witnessed VARs and MSPs work through the same business challenges as the rest of the industry, has also given him a unique perspective.

“There‘s a lot of channel partners out there that really are leaning on, more than ever, Tech Data to help them accelerate their own transformation,” he said. “For me, having been in that seat, and you know quite frankly at that time that was going back seven eight years ago, when I was going through that transformation, one of the things that I brought back to Tech Data was saying, ‘Look there are different ways for us to add value in our channel partner ecosystem.’”

The first 30 days on the new job are “all about listening,” O’Shea said.

“There are obviously things we want to continue to improve,” he said. “We want to make sure we are investing in the right areas, accelerating in the right areas, to meet the needs of the channel partners. That means speaking to as many of our channel partners as possible, and also to our internal colleagues, to get their feedback and direct input on how we can accelerate in the right way.”

Tech Data CEO Rich Hume has kept the company in front of the challenges bought on by COVID-19, while simultaneously helping the company’s MSP partners navigate their own business environments. Last month’s news that Apollo Global Capital had completed its acquisition of Tech Data, came with an announcement that the private equity firm had staked an additional $750 million towards improving the channel partner experience.

The company’s recent investments in StreamOne, rebuilding the platform from the code-up as a cloud-solutions clearing house where partners can post their own IP to monetize and share with the community, is one way that O’Shea said the Clearwater, Fla. based distributors is meeting partners needs. He said it is part of the company’s focus on a deliberate move to higher value, and one that makes the distributor a “vital link” in the technology ecosystem, O’Shea said.

“This moment that we have – we have to continuously be optimizing, we have to continuously be driving efficiency, but also finding ways to add more value in this new paradigm,” he said. “This idea of delivering outcomes alongside of our channel partners is becoming critically important.”

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