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New WatchGuard CEO Lays Out Three Ways He Will Strengthen Channel Program

WatchGuard's new top executive, Prakasah Panjwani, says three upgrades will take place that will boost the company's threat management and network security business.

One thing new WatchGuard Technologies CEO Prakash Panjwani has made clear is this: Continuing a channel-centric approach will be the key to growth for the unified threat management and network security company.

Panjwani was named the new CEO of the Seattle-based company Wednesday, replacing interim CEO Mike Kohlsdorf. Panjwani will officially assume his new role May 4 but is already working to get up to speed on the business.

Panjwani comes to WatchGuard from SafeNet, where he spent more than 12 years as CEO until the company was sold to Gemalto in January. Panjwani said he was offered an attractive position at the new company but that he was "itching to do something different" and was drawn to WatchGuard's strong brand, opportunity to make an impact, and ability to learn about a different facet of the security business.

[Related: WatchGuard Technologies Names Former SafeNet Exec Panjwani As CEO]

As he steps into the CEO role, Panjwani said a lot of the focus will be around strengthening the company's already robust channel program, including the WatchGuardOne partner program the company launched last summer.

"We have had some significant growth in the past year or so, and I think the market is still ahead of us in the sense that there's still room to grow based on the growth we have," Panjwani said. "The channel network already exists, so it's more about having a strong presence in the channel and leading that the right way moving forward," he continued.

Panjwani said he brings a strong background in product strategy, go-to-market and channel growth from his time at SafeNet that he hopes to bring to his new role at WatchGuard. At SafeNet, he said he helped drive consistent double-digit growth and grew channel sales to 70 percent of the business.

At WatchGuard, Panjwani said three upgrades have to happen in parallel. From an infrastructure perspective, Panjwani said he plans to build more "discipline" into the partner program from a variety of angles, including metrics to measure partner success. Second, he said the company plans to build up its go-to-market and infrastructure support. Finally, from an operational perspective, Panjwani said he hopes to improve the partner portal, MDF, marketing support, deal registration and incentive structure to reward partners who bring more value to the table.

"I think the brand is getting stronger and stronger ... but turning that into programs that a partner can utilize globally is sheer execution. ... Practically, how do we win with them? How do we leverage what we're doing on a global basis across the board? That's something I'm looking forward to doing," Panjwani said.

As for products, Panjwani said he plans to focus on the company's core strengths in network security but will look to expand into other segments. While he said he feels WatchGuard has established itself as a leader in unified threat management, he said there are other areas where the company is "not quite there yet," citing, for example, the significant opportunities around expanding the company's threat management solution, Dimension, which rolled out last year.

"We need to keep the momentum up," Panjwani said.


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