Dell’s Denise Millard And Revamped Channel Leadership: 5 Things To Know

Dell Technologies made some big channel executive moves this week that started with news of Rola Dagher’s departure from the tech giant. Here are some things to know about those changes along with Dell’s current position in the market.

The starting line for Denise Millard’s 25-year route to win the leading spot in Dell Technology’s global channel began in the same town where runners gather annually for the Boston Marathon: Hopkinton, Mass.

A rising star inside EMC, even before Round Rock, Texas-based Dell’s 2016 acquisition, Millard was part of creating the enterprise storage giant’s first channel program, EMC Velocity, said Bill Scannell, Dell’s president of global sales and customer operations, in a statement announcing Millard’s promotion to senior vice president global channel strategy and programs.

[RELATED: Dell Channel Heads On Rola Dagher Departure And Partner Strategy Ahead]

“Denise has more than two decades of experience with the channel and has had a big influence on our partner strategy for several years,” he wrote in Monday’s post. “She helped launch the EMC Velocity Program, the company’s first partner program, and was instrumental in the creation of its partner strategy. Her leadership will help us build on our world-class partner program and empower partners to meet the changing needs of our customers.”

While Millard is in the foreground of the latest announcement, Dell has been active—and public—in how it is reorganizing its sales force around the channel. In August, Dell changed the compensation model for its direct sales force, offering them more money to close storage deals through Dell reseller partners. The move, crafted by Scannell, has been roundly hailed for eliminating decades of friction between direct sellers and Dell’s channel partners.

C.R. Howdyshell, CEO of Advizex, a Fulcrum IT Partners company and a Dell Titanium partner, said his Dell Apex sales funnel is three time the size it was earlier this year.

“This is Dell putting the right people in the right place to go win with the channel,” he said.

A Busy Year For Dell’s Strategy, Leadership

In 2023, Dell Technologies has been churning.

It began with changes to its channel program and incentives. Then 6,650 layoffs in February. Next came a new alignment of sales leaders.

Former Dell Co-COO Chuck Whitten told partners that Dell was now “perfectly positioned to meet this moment” at Dell Technologies World in May. Then he resigned in August.

Next, the technology leader in enterprise storage radically changed its strategy, compensating its core sellers more to move those deals through the channel.

Then came more layoffs.

Just as the dust had settled from those early September job cuts, another high profile departure: Rola Dagher, the company’s channel chief who for three years had shaped the company’s strategy with partners. She left to pursue opportunities outside of Dell.

Dell has found its new channel chief in house with Millard.

Partners: Changes Show Dell’s ‘Putting The Right People In The Right Place’

C.R. Howdyshell, CEO of Advizex, a Fulcrum IT Partners company and a Dell Titanium partner, said he sees Millard’s appointment as another sign that Dell is “doubling down” on the channel.

“This is Dell putting the right people in the right place to go win with the channel,” he said.

Howdyshell expects the Dell Apex business at Advizex to double over the next 12 months. “The Apex activity with the Dell field is increasing,” he said “Our sales funnel is three times what it was six months ago.”

Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech Enterprise, a Dell Titanium partner based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., applauded the Dell changing of the channel guard.

“Congratulations to Denise,” said Venero. “From my perspective Dell is making big moves around storage, engaging the partner community better and driving the Dell benefits in cost value around storage. I think she is the right leader for this time.”

Venero said he expects his Dell storage sales to double in 2024 in large part because of the blockbuster Dell shift to pay its direct sales reps more to sell storage products through the channel.

“We are already seeing the new storage incentives taking hold, helping to change the behavior of Dell direct reps,” he said. “I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future partnering with Dell on storage solutions.”

Dell Titanium partner Scott Dunsire, CEO of Melillo Consulting based in Somerset, N.J., said he is thrilled to see Millard’s elevation. “She’s awesome!” he said.

Millard: ‘We Have A Ton Of Momentum’

Denise Millard started working for EMC as a training analyst in August 1998, and this week—some 25 years later—has been selected to lead Dell’s channel strategy, a massive machine that was responsible for about half of the company’s $101 billion in revenue last year.

“The model is working. The program is working. We have a ton of momentum,” Millard told CRN from Hopkinton, Mass., in an exclusive interview following the announcement.

With the move, another longtime EMC and Dell executive and channel veteran Darren Sullivan steps into Millard’s organization.

“Sullivan will join Denise’s leadership team with responsibility for global partner strategy, program and operations. Darren’s team will provide end-to-end program design, enablement and support across channel and alliances,” Scannell said in his post.

Millard will continue to run the global alliance sales team with 500 employees and $11 billion in revenue, according to LinkedIn.

Diego Majdalani

Diego Majdalani

Where Dell’s Diego Majdalani Fits In

Diego Majdalani, president of global channel sales, is a 16-year Dell veteran. He started his corporate climb as a country manager with MicroStrategy in Argentina to now leading Dell’s global sales execution through the channel. He previously led Dell’s International channel sales in Asia Pacific and Japan, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Greater China and Latin America.

Under Dell’s new channel leadership structure, Majdalani will continue to focus on sales execution, while Millard crafts the strategy.

“Until (Sunday), Rola was working on the strategy, the prime strategy piece, that element. Then Darren (Sullivan) was working on the operation side, and Denise was working on the alliances side. And I was running on the sales piece,” Majdalani told CRN. “Now all we’re doing is bringing all those three first elements together under Denise, the industry, the strategy and the operation; and then the sales side continues to be just as it was, up until this point.”

Investors Reward Dell, Despite Revenue Decline

The market loves Dell’s position with generative AI, and the drumbeat of announcements that the company has rolled out around the technology this year. Dell’s share price has soared from $56.24 on August 31 prior to its latest earnings announcement to $67.20 Wednesday.

That is a 19.4 percent boost on the back of a significant year-over-year drop in revenue. Sales in its most recent quarter came in at $22.9 billion, down 13 percent year-over-year. And the company’s revenue guidance for the next quarter is for another double-digit decline.

But all of that is lifted by the expectation that the world’s leading supplier of infrastructure is ready to meet the massive compute demands of generative AI.

Jeff Clarke, vice chairman and COO for Dell Technologies, said during his prepared remarks in the August earnings call that Dell is encouraged with some of the macro environment signs it sees in the second half of the year.

“Workstation demand grew and was another bright spot that will continue to benefit from the rise of AI,” he said. “Developers and data scientists can now fine-tune GenAI models locally before deploying them at scale.”

Steven Burke contributed to this story.