Intel Security Nabs Avaya's Worldwide Channel Chief As New Head Of Global Partners

Intel Security has a new channel chief, naming former Avaya top channel executive Richard Steranka as head of Global Channels.

Steranka will report to Scott Lovett, senior vice president of Global Sales.

Steranka comes to Intel Security from Avaya, where he was vice president of the worldwide partner organization until Friday. At Avaya since 2013, he was recognized for leading the drastic overhaul of the unified communications vendor's Connect Partner program from one based on volume to one based on value. Prior to joining Avaya, he spent 19 years at Cisco in a variety of channel, marketing and distribution roles.

[Related: Aruba Channel Chief Says Bye-Bye To HP]

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The appointment fills a nearly six-month vacancy in the worldwide channel role for Intel Security with the March move by former worldwide channel chief Gavin Struthers to serve as president of Asia Pacific for Intel Security. In an interview with CRN, Steranka said he believes his appointment will bring an end to the uncertainty expressed by some partners in the interim.

"The commitment to the partner community is still there. I think having a channel lead back in place will bring some reassurance," Steranka said. "I firmly believe in the approach that you have to be very transparent with partners ... You also have to be consistent ... That is the type of stuff that there are elements of the relationship that partners are looking for. It ultimately boils down to trust."

Partners who knew Steranka from his time at Avaya praised his commitment to partners.

Dan Ferguson, CEO at San Jose, Calif.-based AdvanTel Networks, said Steranka is a "great channel leader."

"He's pro-channel. He understands the channel ... He's always been a champion of improving ease of business with Avaya, and he's always shown an interest in the profitability of channel partners," Ferguson said. "I think Intel did very well by picking up Richard. He will be able to come in and help accelerate the sales at Intel. I think he's going to be great for the channel."

While Ferguson said he hasn't worked much with Intel Security in the past, he said the appointment of Steranka will make him take a second look at the vendor as a bigger part of AdvanTel's security portfolio.

"In the past, it has not been a focus of ours ... From our standpoint, Richard moving over to Intel makes us more interested in looking at their entire portfolio," Ferguson said.

Steranka said his first priority in the new role will be continuing the trajectory started by his predecessors to build a simpler and more value-based partner program focused on the Security Connected platform.

"My first thoughts are to continue on with the great work that's been done," Steranka said. "I don't see any specific requirements to do a massive overhaul, but the market is changing a lot. We need to continue to align with our partners around the investments we need to mutually capture this tremendous opportunity [for security]."

From a partner-enablement perspective, Steranka said he plans to continue Struthers' investment in market-enablement activities that are an investment above and beyond standard training, education and support initiatives. Those targeted investments will enable partners of all types to improve their capabilities and market position with Intel, he said.

"The one thing that I love doing is going from strategy to execution. I like to take the time to think through the opportunities that we have and really craft a strategy that's tightly aligned with our partner community," Steranka said.

"I think this is all about bringing upside and more opportunity to the table," he continued. "And, being in a growth industry doesn't hurt either."