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Lenovo Data Center Finds New Global Channel Chief In Avnet Exec

‘I have channel organizations in all five geographies now, which is something that I’ve built over the last two years. Now I need someone at the top to give it direction,’ says Roderick Lappin, SVP and Chief Customer Officer, Lenovo Data Center Group.

Lenovo is doubling down on its data center channel strategy by hiring two new leaders with decades of experience aimed to accelerate partner sales and improve channel programs.

Roderick Lappin, senior vice president and chief customer officer for Lenovo’s Data Center Group, said the hiring of Nicole Roskill as the company’s new global channel chief and Kevin Hooper as president of North American Data Center Group sales will take Lenovo to a new level in the channel.

“Nicole is going to bring an extra level of depth in our channel engagement model that we lack right now. We’re doing well in channel -- we’re the fastest growing server vendor in the world -- so we’re doing okay. But we want to do better,” said Lappin in an interview with CRN. “I have channel organizations in all five geographies now, which is something that I’ve built over the last two years. Now I need someone at the top to give it direction. I really want to try and get ourselves to be a more consistent deliverer of services, rebates, programs, etc. for our channel partners to grow that ecosystem. Nicole has a small team worldwide that will have the channel teams in each one of the geographies reporting to her to specifically drive channel-base programs.”

[Related: Lenovo Targets ‘Trust Rebuilding’ With Partners, Touts Big Growth Opportunities]

Roskill officially became executive director of Global Channels for Lenovo’s Data Center Group this week. Prior to joining Lenovo, she was vice president of emerging channels and integrated solutions at Avnet, responsible for the global distributors’ strategy and sales execution for hundreds of partners in the Americas.

Roskill began her career with a 12-year stint at IBM from 1997 to 2009 with roles including director of Healthcare Solutions and Business Development. She could not be reached for comment by press time.

“She’s coming back into Lenovo now from the channel,” said Lappin. “Avnet, before they sold their value proposition business over to Tech Data, was one of the top distributors and value proposition resellers in North America. Her coming to us is pretty special because she brings that wealth of knowledge of actually being in the channel. She’s going to drive programmatic consistently for me globally around the channel business.”

Another key hire aimed at driving channel sales is the appointment of veteran leader Kevin Hooper, who has years of vice president and top executive experience working for the likes of Hewlett Packard, IBM, Oracle and NEC’s Enterprise business, including the title of director of worldwide channel marketing and enablement at IBM. Additionally, he spent a year as chief revenue officer for Rogue Wave Software.

Hooper was president and co-owner of Spectrum Leap, a consultative sales management company, prior to joining Lenovo this week. He could not be reached for comment by press time.

“Kevin have a wealth of experience from the channel. He comes from having two very large stints in his career of very channel-friendly organizations, but then he’s also got a very solutions-based orientation,” said Lappin. “We see things going to a subscription model. He comes to me with the solutions, services, software as well as knowledge in the traditional hardware space, but he’s also been in many channel-based role. He’s going to be great for us.”

Lappin said his No. 1 priority this year is to invest in the channel SMB and midmarket space.

“Between now and the end of March, Nicole’s putting together a strategy for me on how we want a BMS [business management system] and our engagement model specifically for the channel. I really want to be prioritizing our channel.” he said. “We have to challenge ourselves around, ‘What do I need to do differently to ultimately deliver in this transforming industry?’ Nicole and Kevin coming on board is a good example of that.”

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