Matt Ireland, a channel chief and soccer coach revered by colleagues and peers for his infectious personality and eagerness to listen, died Jan. 2. He was 43.
Ireland first became acquainted with solution providers in January 2014 as a strategic channel manager for security intelligence vendor FireMon and quickly worked his way up the ranks before landing a channel chief role at security device automation vendor BackBox a year ago.
But Ireland will be equally well-remember for his love of barbecue and passion for soccer, which he spent more than two decades coaching. Ireland's ability to teach the fundamentals, sweat the details, and inspire and motivate others on the pitch ended up preparing him well for life in the channel.
"He would come in with a big smile, a happy attitude, and energy, and say 'let's get this done,'" said Todd DeBell, who supervised Ireland for two-and-a-half years at FireMon. "He brightened up all of our sales meetings and events."
BlackLake Security CEO Mark Jones has been meeting with channel managers in the IT security industry for more than two decades, and said Ireland was one of the best he's ever encountered despite being relatively new. Ireland would always have a big smile on his face whenever he walked into the room, and Jones said conversations with him always felt like speaking with a family member.
"He's always give you a big hug," Jones said. "There weren't a lot of handshakes."
Jones said Ireland was "one of the most caring guys in the business," and would on the drop of a dime get involved with a problematic deal at 7 p.m. on a Friday to make sure it went through before the end of the quarter. And once any issues were troubleshooted, Ireland would want to go out for lunch and discuss how he could be a better partner to their business.
"He's a person that understands that people buy from people," Jones said. "At the end of the day, it's a very small industry."
One of Ireland's favorite ways to get to know channel partners better was to bring his wife and family to events such as a dinner during the 2016 RSA conference and invite solution providers to do the same, Jones said. Ireland never attempted to keep work and his personal life separate, and would invite business associates to spend time around his family, DeBell said.
Ireland excelled at handling prickly or sensitive conversations such as a channel partner upset about pricing or a competitive situation and coming up with a win-win situation, according to DeBell.