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Dell Partners ‘Shocked’ At Mullen’s Departure, Anxious To Meet Her Replacement

“[Our] business is really built around our partnership with Dell EMC, and she’s played a big part of that. … It’s going to be a big decision who Dell picks to replace her,” said Craig Manahan of solution provider RoundTower Technologies.

Dell Technologies partners were “shocked” to hear that Joyce Mullen, a 21-year Dell veteran who has led its channel charge for the past three years, is unexpectedly stepping aside, leaving the company on Aug. 14.

“I’m definitely shocked to hear that [she’s leaving]. She seemed to be on top of things and was very engaged with us and other partners as recently as just a few weeks ago,” said one top executive from a Dell Technologies Titanium partner who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Changes can be good on both sides. If she was truly looking for something different, good for her for making the decision and moving on. The same thing on the Dell side: If they felt like things were getting stale and needed to be refreshed, then it makes sense. It’s a surprise to me for sure. I think the attention now turns to who’s going to be the next leader?”

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Dell told CRN Thursday that the company is now searching for Mullen’s replacement, an effort being led by Bill Scannell, president of global sales and customer operations.

Craig Manahan, senior practice manager for RoundTower Technologies, Cincinnati, Ohio-based Dell partner, was also stunned to learn about Mullen’s plan to depart next month, as she has played a vital role in driving partner profitability for RoundTower over the years.

“Joyce is always good to work with and is definitely focused on the partners and helping grow profitability. That’s a big thing, so I’m kind of surprised to be honest,” said Manahan. “She made it easy for channel partners to work with Dell. She is constantly revamping the program as she gets feedback, and that’s always helpful for channel partners like us when working with a large OEM. The RoundTower business is really built around our partnership with Dell EMC, and she’s played a big part of that.”

Before RoundTower, Manahan worked for Dell from 2007 to 2014. Although he did not work alongside Mullen, he said she made a huge impact on the company’s channel strategy.

“When I was working at Dell, we really didn’t have a channel program when I started there. Dell was very much a direct sales organization. [Under] her leadership in building the channel out, by the time I left, they had a thriving channel organization. And obviously she continued build on top of that after the Dell-EMC merger,” said Manahan. “It’s going to be a big decision who Dell picks to replace her.”

Mullen, president of Global Channel, Embedded & Edge Solutions, is responsible for Dell Technologies’ global channel strategy, partner program, solution provider enablement and channel sales execution. Channel sales now account for more than 50 percent of Dell Technologies’ $91 billion in annual revenue. That’s up from 40 percent in 2014.

Mullen has been a critical contributor to the continual channel sales increases Dell has seen year after year as well as to the creation of its new flagship Dell Technologies Partner Program.

In an interview with CRN Thursday, Mullen said she is leaving Dell to pursue new career opportunities in a smaller company, though she has not yet secured a new position.

“This is obviously a tough decision. I feel like I’m part of the furniture since I’ve been around for 21 years,” said Mullen. “I’ve been able to contribute to making Dell Technologies the great company that it is. When I stepped back and talked about it with my husband and my kids, it became really clear that I want to go be a member of a very senior leadership team at a smaller company and do it again—make another company really terrific. I’ve had great opportunities at Dell Technologies, and I’m really grateful for that, but I want to do it again at another company.”

Her departure comes just months after longtime channel advocate and Dell Technologies President and Chief Commercial Officer Marius Haas left the company in February.

The president of one all-in Dell Technologies solution provider said certain “pieces and parts have been” moving in Dell’s leadership team since Dell and EMC have been fully integrated.

“You saw Bill Scannell taking over things, Marius left. There were some others too, and now Joyce,” said the president of the East Coast solution provider who declined to be identified. “I don’t want to speculate too much, but you can see a trend over the past 12 months or so. … I think every partner in the world is wondering who Dell is going to pick to replace her. It’s a big decision.”

While that question remains unanwered for now, Mullen said she’s leaving the Dell Technologies channel in good hands.

“Billy Scannell has even more experience than I do, and he’s been working with partners for a very long time,” said Mullen. “He is working on figuring out who exactly it should be, the right structure and all of those sorts of thing.”

Over the course of her 21-year career at Dell, Mullen has led large teams around channels, alliances, supply chain, services delivery and operations, holding top executive roles such as vice president and general manager of global alliances and software. She played a critical role in building the Dell EMC Partner Program, followed by the Dell Technologies Partner Program after Dell’s blockbuster $67 billion acquisition of EMC in 2016.

Mullen said she doesn’t anticipate any disruption in Dell Technologies’ channel or go-to-market strategy due to her upcoming departure.

“No, there is no change in our highly differentiated go-to-market strategy with me leaving,” she said. “We have the world’s greatest sales force and the world’s best partner community. The magic happens when we line those two up. Nothing changes about the strategy.”

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