CRN Exclusive: Forcepoint Names Former RES Software, Citrix Exec As New Global Channel Chief

Forcepoint has landed former Citrix and RES Software channel exec Tom Flink to lead its channel sales, the company announced Wednesday.

Flink joined Forcepoint two weeks ago as vice president of global channel sales. He replaces Vice President of Global Channel Sales and Professional Services John Starr, who left the company earlier this year to take a role as operating partner at H.I.G. Capital.

Flink joins Forcepoint from RES Software, where he served as senior vice president of global sales and services. Before joining RES Software, he held top sales and channel roles at Citrix. Prior to the vendor roles, Flink also held a variety of sales roles as different solution providers and resellers.

[Related: Forcepoint Acquires RedOwl To Add Security Analytics, UEBA Capabilities]

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In an interview with CRN, Flink said he was drawn to the role at Forcepoint because of the growing opportunity around cybersecurity, as well as the company's "fresh and differentiated approach" around what it calls a human-centric approach to security.

"While I haven't worked for a traditional security company … it's hard to be in this industry and not touch on security," Flink said. "From a broad view, I can bring some new thoughts on how to partner and build a vibrant community of rabid fans for the company by leveraging my partner background … I look more toward my experience as a partner when I think about those things. When you get partners to wake up every day thinking about being a Forcepoint partner, that is a win."

Forcepoint has been formed over the last year-and-a-half through a series of acquisitions. It was originally formed through the combination of a Raytheon division, Websense and the McAfee Next-Generation Firewall and McAfee Firewall Enterprise businesses from Intel Security (also known as Stonesoft and Sidewinder, respectively). In February, the company acquired cloud access security brokerage solution Skyfence from Imperva to add to that portfolio, as well as reorganized and launched its human-centric security strategy. Finally, in August the company acquired RedOwl to add security analytics capabilities.

Flink said Forcepoint already has a "great foundation to start from" when it comes to its partner program. He said he would look to particularly invest in the company's channel team, adding headcount to make sure Forcepoint has the right level of people and coverage in the field. He said he would also look to ensure consistency in engagement with partners through the partner program and rewarding partners who add value to customers.

Flink said he will also look to "amplify the message around the human-centric approach to security" and more generally get the word out more to partners about Forcepoint. He said that push will apply to both current and new partners of Forcepoint.

"At the end of the day that is what partners are looking for … We have something to bring to the table that is unique, and we have a differentiated approach to how we are solving more complex security problems," Flink said.

"Relationships are built and trust is established over time … People do business with people they trust and they want to understand how we can be successful together," Flink said.

Jeremy Wittkop, CTO of InteliSecure, a Greenwood Village, Co.-based Forcepoint partner, said Flink's background of building successful channel programs should be a win for Forcepoint.

Wittkop said Forcepoint has seen some "zigs and zags" when it comes to partners in the absence of a dedicated channel leader. He said he hopes Flink can drive a more strategic direction for partners and help take the partner program to the next level.

"John was a good guy and we had a great relationship. I'm looking forward to having that same relationship with Tom," Wittkop said. "It will be nice ot have someone at the top setting that strategic direction."

Wittkop said he would like to see Flink drive better awareness around the Forcepoint brand in the marketplace. He said Flink's background in the partner community and outside the security space should help with building the strategy around those areas.

"It's exciting. Having some new blood isn't always a bad thing," Wittkop said. "I'm excited for Forcepoint to have leadership that's been around the block a little bit."

Wittkop said InteliSecure's growth with Forcepoint is "looking at a big increase going into next year" and that the "pipeline has grown tremendously." He said he expects Flink will only help add to that growth in the coming year.

"It's a really positive time for them and their partners right now," Wittkop said. "They're making a lot of moves. They have a lot of investments and brought in a good executive team. The opportunity is there for them."