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Partners: New Citrix Channel Chief Faces Big Challenges

Kimberly Martin takes the reins of the virtualization vendor's channel as an activist investor steers a major transformation.

As Citrix Systems embarks on a major makeover -- one partially forced on the virtualization giant by an activist hedge-fund manager -- the company Wednesday introduced a new leader to oversee its global network of partners.

Kimberly Martin is a seasoned channel veteran who once led Microsoft's channel in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Before Microsoft, Martin was a director at Accenture, where she advised a number of tech giants on transforming their channels.

As the new vice president of partner strategy and sales, Martin will report to Carlos Sartorius, who runs all global sales and services.

[Related: Citrix Makeover: 9 Sweeping Changes Being Demanded By Elliott Management]

"Martin will be responsible for evolving the company’s partner strategy for ISVs, OEMs, SIs, service providers, resellers, and distributors, addressing channel needs, delivering maximum value to partners and driving customer success," according to the official Citrix announcement.

In June, Elliott Management Group revealed a 7.5 percent stake in Citrix Systems along with plans to set a drastically different course for the software stalwart whose future appeared increasingly uncertain.

In its SEC filing disclosing its stake, the New York-based hedge fund controlled by activist investor Paul Singer unveiled a plan to transform the company. Near the end of the July, Elliott Management, under the leadership of Senior Portfolio Manager Jesse Cohn, reached a pact with the rest of the board that provided for Cohn to take a board seat, and for longtime Citrix CEO Mark Templeton to exit the company.

The role Martin fills was vacated in February by Tom Flink, who transitioned to a position within the company as vice president of sales and services for an international region. The channel chief position appears to have been vacant since then.

After Martin left Microsoft in 2013, she became channel chief for Informatica. A year later, she joined big data startup Datameer, where she built the company's partner ecosystem, according to Citrix.

Citrix said Martin's appointment is part of a broader sales transformation plan that was initiated earlier this year.

One interesting aspect of Martin's bio -- at least for serious Citrix watchers -- is that Martin lives in the San Francisco Bay area. While Citrix has bicoastal headquarters, with corporate bases in both Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Santa Clara, Calif., the company's center of gravity around channel operations has historically been Florida.


Carl Gersh, director of sales and marketing for Synergy, a Miramar, Fla., solution provider that has partnered with Citrix for two decades, told CRN that Martin's hiring should be interpreted as good news by Citrix partners concerned about the involvement of Elliott Management, as it represents an investment from Citrix in its channel.

"Citrix underwent a broader sales transformation plan earlier this year and I’m encouraged to see that Citrix's channels team is growing with new leadership," said Gersh, who before joining Synergy worked at Citrix as a marketing manager.

Because of Martin's experience building channels at both a large vendor like Informatica and a startup like Datameer, Gersh said he "would expect her to bring fresh perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking to reinvigorate Citrix's channel, while understanding how to successfully roll out large format partner programs."

Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Citrix partner based in Holbrook, N.Y., also told CRN he's happy to see Martin taking the reins of Citrix's partner program.

Channel partners have at times struggled with the previous channel leadership, Venero said.

But Martin "has definitely proven her ability over the years to help build and drive a channel support process. She also brings a global understanding, which is vital in today’s global economy," Venero told CRN.

"We look forward to her input and direction at Citrix. It has been needed for quite some time," Venero said.

Gersh said an area of Martin's resume he found particularly interesting was her role leading the Microsoft EMEA channel at a time during which the world's largest software company shifted from on-premise perpetual licensing to cloud-based services.

That experience is especially relevant as Citrix recently announced the launch of its subscription-based Workspace Cloud offering a few weeks ago.

As one of the Citrix Workspace Cloud launch partners, he's looking forward to hearing more about her plans in this area, Gersh said.


"There's great business potential for solutions providers in the Workspace Cloud offering, and Citrix will benefit from channel leadership who understands how to help partners maximize this opportunity," he said.

Martin, in a statement released by Citrix, said: ’Citrix has a strong committed partner network that has been delivering innovative Citrix solutions to customers for many years. I’m excited to work with and help reinvigorate our partner community through new innovative programs and initiatives, and will further hone the incentives and engagement model we deliver to our partners."

"We have big plans for the future to ensure success for our partners and customers. I’m excited to work with Mark Templeton, Carlos Santorius and the rest of the executive team to execute on an ambitious vision for the company and for the ecosystem of customers and partners who get value from Citrix solutions every day," Martin said.

PUBLISHED SEPT. 16, 2015

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