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NetApp Global Partner Lead Chris Lamborn Exits

‘It may be counterintuitive, but not every channel exec I’ve seen in the industry is approachable. But Chris was. He was always positive, always engaging. As a long-time partner of NetApp, I feel he was very effective. And he was very creative in how he engaged the channel during the COVID-19 pandemic. He set up a very good virtual conference schedule,’ says John Woodall, vice president of engineering and NetApp enablement at General Datatech.

The head of NetApp’s global channels said he has left his job after a career at the storage giant that spanned just shy of six years.

The departure of Chris Lamborn is not the only change coming to NetApp’s channel organization. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage and cloud data technology developer in July brought on Jenni Flinders, the former vice president and global channel chief at VMware, as NetApp’s new senior vice president of partners and channel.

NetApp did not respond to a CRN request for information by press time.

[Related: NetApp Channel Chief Jim Elder: Big Changes, Opportunities Coming For Partners]

Lamborn, who has served as head of worldwide partner go-to-market and programs, unveiled his departure in a Thursday LinkedIn post in which he wrote that the hardest career choice can be deciding when it’s time for a change.

“But it’s a lot easier when you’re leaving a strong team that’s capable of achieving great things,” he wrote.

Lamborn wrote that he is closing out his NetApp chapter, and is grateful to his colleagues and the partner community for helping him make the most of the past six years.

“Change in the partner ecosystem is accelerating, and I look forward to engaging in new ways. So watch this space, and do stay connected,” he wrote.

Lamborn told CRN that it’s a strange feeling to say goodbye to a company he likes so much.

“When you make the decision to make a change like this, you go through all sorts of thoughts,” he said. “Then you go public, and everything is more relaxed.”

Lamborn said the decision to leave NetApp and go into consulting was his.

“I now have an opportunity to do something I’ve wanted to do, and that is taking my skills to help others accelerate their business,” he said. “I’ll be taking my skills to others across this industry and others. When you think about the ecosystem, there are a lot of companies without a lot of experience on the business or operations sides. A lot of these companies are coming from a direct sales focus to a partner focus, and need help.”

Flinders will be taking on Lamborn’s responsibilities and more, Lamborn said.

“Jenni came in to expand our competencies,” he said. “I’ve been working with her since she joined. She knew my thoughts when she came in, and came up to speed fast. She has a broader piece of the business than I had. But she’s super bright, super clever, and professional. She’s great for the business.”

Lamborn said he has enjoyed being part of NetApp.

“NetApp has a bold vision,” he said. “There was a lot of questions around NetApp’s original decision to pivot to the public cloud. But customers are pivoting to public clouds, and they see that NetApp understands that pivot. We’re seeing that decision pay off now. The channel is evolving. Making the public cloud a part of NetApp’s channel was a very good move.”

Lamborn did a very good job as head of partner programs, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering and NetApp enablement at General Datatech, a Dallas-based solution provider and long-time NetApp channel partner.

“It may be counterintuitive, but not every channel exec I’ve seen in the industry is approachable,” Woodall told CRN. “But Chris was. He was always positive, always engaging. As a longtime partner of NetApp, I feel he was very effective. And he was very creative in how he engaged the channel during the COVID-19 pandemic. He set up a very good virtual conference schedule.”

Woodall said that while part of him is sad to see Lamborn leave, part is positive about the opportunities presented for Lamborn and others.

“When someone leaves, it leaves a hole in the organization,” he said. “But I’m happy for him to see what opportunities he has. His leaving also leave an opening at NetApp. There are good people there who can fill the spot. NetApp has a strong organization.”

Lamborn has a great sense of humor and a great grasp on the channel, Woodall said.

“He is a very good individual to interact with personally,” he said. “There are those people you want to hang out with outside of work, and he is one of them. He is someone I would take a meal or have coffee with any time.”

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