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Replacing AWS Channel Chief Doug Yeum: What Partners Want

‘[Bringing in] somebody that knows their partners and the channel dynamics is very important,’ says Emil Sayegh, CEO of Austin, Texas-based Ntirety, an AWS Select Consulting Partner. ‘The channel is all about relationships, and it’s important for somebody to appreciate the relationships that people have forged with Amazon.’

Solution providers hope Amazon Web Services’ incoming channel chief will carry on the cloud provider’s progress with its AWS Partner Network (APN) and continue to invest in and better leverage its members.

Current AWS channel chief Doug Yeum (pictured above) is leaving AWS for an “awesome opportunity” to help build a new business on the retail side of parent company, Amazon.com, according to an internal AWS email sent Monday by Matt Garman, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

AWS, which declined comment, plans to announce its channel chief on Monday, when that unnamed person will start shadowing Yeum until the official changeover on Dec. 6, following the close of the AWS re:Invent 2021 conference.

“I would simply say ask that AWS and whomever fills that role continue to appreciate and invest in systems integration partners that are strategic to AWS, as we seek to continue to help customers with and in and around AWS solutions,” said Jim Keller, AWS global leader for Quantiphi, an artificial intelligence-first digital engineering company and AWS Advanced Consulting Partner based in Marlborough, Mass. “That’s really what it’s all about.”

AWS has made a “massive investment” in its partner ecosystem, both from a tools and go-to-market perspectives, according to Keller.

“As AWS scales as quickly as it is from a customer acquisition standpoint, from a staff addition standpoint, partners trying to keep up with that is always a challenge,” Keller said. “We welcome and would appreciate continued attention as we try to keep pace. It’s a difficult thing to do.”

Yeum has been in his channel chief role since July 2019, when he became head of global head of worldwide channels and alliances after serving as technical advisor or “chief of staff” for former AWS CEO Andy Jassy, who now leads Amazon.com.

Yeum had a “tremendous impact” on AWS, according to Garman, first serving as country leader for Korea.

“Doug has helped us scale our partner org as we’ve grown over the last few years and leaves us positioned with a great team and a huge runway as we continue to rapidly scale the AWS business through and with our partners,” Garman said in his email.

Yeum “cared deeply” about partners, according to Keller.

“And during COVID, he actually spent quite an amount of time trying to work with partners to try to assist us we struggled through…because, as you can imagine, the landscape was ever-changing, both with customers and with AWS,” Keller said.

While leadership moves are a natural occurrence within companies, relationships cultivated over years are key for channel partners, said Emil Sayegh, CEO of Austin, Texas-based Ntirety, a managed compliance security provider and AWS Select Consulting Partner.

“[Bringing in] somebody that knows their partners and the channel dynamics is very important,” Sayegh said. “The channel is all about relationships, and it’s important for somebody to appreciate the relationships that people have forged with Amazon. This business is all about track record. It’s about history, it’s about working together, blood, sweat and tears. It’s important the person that comes in has a good appreciation for all of that and investment that the channel has done in terms of working with Amazon.”

Sayegh hopes the new channel chief enhances co-marketing development and co-engagement efforts with partners and makes more strategic programmatic moves in terms of working with partners that have earned competencies.

“Partners spend a lot of times developing those competencies,” he said. “It just has to be a little bit more programmatic in terms of what goes to whom and when and how to engage.”

Simon Anderson, CEO of Mission Cloud Services, hopes the new channel leader analyzes and understands the operating models for managed service providers and consulting partners and how they’re driving business for AWS – particularly those who have an “outsized contribution.”

“The first order of business will be to…make sure that they understand the uniqueness and differentiation of our business and why our business is designed in a way which really accelerates trust and confidence by customers in AWS and AWS services,” said Anderson, whose company is an AWS Premier Consulting Partner based in Los Angeles. “Let’s keep collaborating where it’s most important, which is driving growth.”

Anderson is not worried about stability issues with AWS and its partner program being introduced by a new channel chief entering the picture. Adam Selipsky returned to AWS in July as its new CEO, replacing Jassy, and Yeum’s departure follows the exits of other key executives who’ve left for other technology companies.

“Once you have a relationship with someone, and then you have to establish a new relationship, that’s always takes some time and effort, but I don’t think it’ll really introduce any instability,” Anderson said. “The partner team at AWS is very deep and wide, so I think that’s going to be fine. Any outside experience that can be brought to bear can always be a good thing. And there’s no doubt that AWS has been newer to the channel than other of the major competitors out there.”

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