Robert Enslin On Google Cloud’s Seven-Month Building Tear: Exclusive

'We know that we want to actually scale the organization rapidly,’ says Robert Enslin, Google Cloud's president of global customer operations. 'I knew a lot of talent in the industry and so did (CEO Thomas Kurian), so we knew pretty quickly what we wanted to do to achieve that level of scale.'


It’s been seven months since Robert Enslin joined Google Cloud as president of global customer operations, and the pace at which he’s helping reshape and build the cloud provider’s sales organization has been breakneck.

There’s been a slew of hirings, and changes to empower Google Cloud's regional sales teams, simplify its customer approach by industry, segment partner sales opportunities, and bring its largest systems integrator partners closer to the company.

No settling-in time was needed, according to Enslin, who said he was up to speed from day one and in lockstep with CEO Thomas Kurian’s charge to build a world-class enterprise organization, starting with a coverage model that allowed it to compete in more customer opportunities.

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Enslin knew Google from his 27 years at SAP, where he most recently was president of its cloud business group and an executive board member, and had worked with the company on the engineering side.

“I actually had a very good understanding of the company,” Enslin told CRN at Google Cloud Next ’19 UK in London this week. “And then coming in, I spent some time with Thomas. Even though we hadn't worked together, we had obviously competed. We really understood the enterprise customers, and what we wanted to do, so I got up to speed really quickly. We've done quite a few things in the last seven months.”

Google Cloud, which had been “outmanned” by its competition in terms of the amount of employees it had touching customers, already is starting to see payoffs, according to Enslin, who cited its recent data deal with Vodafone, the British multinational telecommunications conglomerate.

“We are highly competitive,” Enslin said. “We're now starting to win significant deals, transformational deals.”

The Building Blocks

The first priority was making sure Google Cloud had the right level of leaders in place globally, according to Enslin.

“We've hired a significant amount of new leaders from…Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, other places in the enterprise (space),” he said.

John Jester joined Google Cloud as vice president of customer experience after nearly 20 years at Microsoft. Atul Nanda is the new vice president of customer support after moving over from Salesforce, and Carlo Granda, formerly of SAP, is vice president of customer success.

Enslin split responsibility for the Americas in two, hiring Eduardo Lopez from Oracle to lead Latin America and Kirsten Kliphouse from Red Hat -- and formerly Microsoft for 25 years – to lead North America. Chris Ciauri was hired from Salesforce to lead Google Cloud operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Enslin also recruited new leaders for Japan and Australia, New Zealand and Google Cloud’s industry focus in Asia-Pacific, and is in the process of hiring someone to head up India.

Janet Kennedy, formerly of Microsoft, is running Google Cloud’s retail industry team; Philip Moyer, formerly of Amazon Web Services, has taken on healthcare. Oracle veteran Bob Allison is directing financial services, and Mike Daniels came from Salesforce to run the global public sector program. David Ooley, formerly of Oracle, is the new telco, gaming and entertainment chief.

“We know that we want to actually scale the organization rapidly,” Enslin said. “I knew a lot of talent in the industry and so did Thomas, so we knew pretty quickly what we wanted to do to achieve that level of scale.”

Enslin also created a global recruiting engine to hire enterprise sales talent.

“When I say sales talent, I'm not just talking about quota carriers,” he said. “I'm talking about solutions engineers, custom engineers and so on in the field.”

Industry-Based Customer Approach With Cloud Value Advisors

Google Cloud also has changed how it goes after customers, moving to an industry-based approach covering six industries: public sector, financial services, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and gaming, media and telco.

“We go to market by those industries, and so our sales people actually start to have knowledge about the industries,” Enslin said.

That includes being able to articulate Google Cloud’s value proposition to customers at an industry level and understanding what problems they’re trying to solve, rather than “let's sell you technology, and you've got to figure out what problem you're trying to solve,” Enslin said.

“That's really important, because when…you're investing with a hyperscaler, it's a lot of money,” Enslin said. “We had to bring in a process where our salespeople understood that they're actually selling value, and that the board of these companies want to understand what they were receiving for the money they were spending.”

Google Cloud now has “cloud value advisors.”

“It’s basically people that really understand business value by industry that work with the salespeople, so that we can actually work with boardrooms and explain to them if you're investing in Google Cloud, you're using our AI (artificial intelligence) technology, using analytics, you're trying to solve real problems in your industry,” he said. “We know how to explain that now to business leaders. We actually work with the C-level executives to explain if they manage to get it right, this is kind of that return they can expect.”

At the same time, Google Cloud also is building engineering solution sets in each of those industries.

“We're working with HSBC (Bank), for instance, on risk management,” Enslin said. “We're working with other banks or financial institutions on anti-money laundering. Google's knowledge of large amounts of data, how to handle patterns in data and then use AI on top of that -- those are the solution sets we're bringing into market. And we're doing that across all of those vertical industries as well. It's all new this year.”

Regional Empowerment Models

Google Cloud also has moved to a regional empowerment model.

“When I joined, the resources were very central, so very Sunnyvale, headquarters-type organization sets,” Enslin said. “Everybody reported into somebody in Sunnyvale, who reported into me. When we hired all these regional leads, we committed that we would actually (embolden) the power base in the regions. The first of September, we converted all those resources into the regions, so they have all of the skills, resources to actually focus on the customers in-region and make all the decisions in-region.”

That allows Google Cloud to do things at speed, according to Enslin. Instead of having to go back to Sunnyvale for approvals, Ciauri, for example, can make all the decisions for Europe.

“Chris can decide how Europe operates, which markets are the most important, what his coverage model is and so on,” Enslin said.

‘Partners First’

When Google Cloud goes to market beginning in January, channel partners will handle customers with up to one billion in annual revenue.

“Just to make it very simple for a partner, there’s basically two levels,” Enslin said. “We look at companies with a billion in revenue and below, and then we look at equity investment at $100 million, so that you can identify the digital natives who don't necessarily have that kind of revenue streams, but they have significant investments from the market.”

“Above that, we have direct sales organizations segmented into two areas -- enterprise and select accounts,” he said. “And with those, we go direct, and we work more with global integrators at that level…Accenture, Deloitte, Atos, HCL, Infosys.”

And Google Cloud is bringing those large systems integrators much closer to the company.

“We’re much more engaged, where we are driving a partner-first strategy in general with everything we do, so that the partners feel a lot more comfortable,” Enslin said.

Google Cloud also has started to rework its financial terms for partners, according to Enslin.

“We want to be the most attractive place for a partner to partner with in every marketplace,” he said. “If you want to scale a business, and you truly want to be a global business…you have to have an ecosystem that's local, that understands the market. And if you have enough of those partners, you will absolutely be successful. You've got to view those partners like their financial books are your financial books. I've done that all my life, in every market in the world. And so for me, that's how we will continue to grow the partner ecosystems. It's part of the family. It's what makes us successful.”