Insight’s Incoming CEO Joyce Mullen On Making History, M&A And Top Challenges

‘With the 21 years at Dell with all of those different jobs, I’ve got a lot of different experience in services, sales, operations, logistics…even strategy so I feel very well prepared. I am very grateful to all of my bosses and leaders and mentors who’ve helped me build skills.”–Joyce Mullen, Insight’s incoming president and CEO.

Joyce Mullen was tapped as Insight’s new president and CEO earlier this week and said she’s well prepared for the role after having more than a dozen roles at Dell Technologies throughout her 21 years there.

Insight’s current CEO, Ken Lamneck, announced in May he will be retiring at the end of this year. Mullen has been at Insight for the past year and has served as the Tempe, Ariz.-based solution provider’s North America president. Prior to that she was the president of Global Channel and Embedded & Edge Solutions for Dell Technologies.

“I’ve got so much to learn, so it’s great,” Mullen told CRN of her new role. “Ken [Lamneck] is going be helpful for a while and it’s fantastic. I feel very lucky to be in this position, very honored, very humbled and super, super excited.”

The $8 billion solution provider ranked No. 15 on CRN’s 2020 Solution Provider 500.

Click through to see CRN’s exclusive interview with Mullen about how she feels about her new role and her thoughts on growing the company.

You ’re the first woman CEO at Insight. How does it feel to help pave the way and be an inspiration for more women to take on leadership roles in the technology industry?

I’m not sure I feel like I’m paving the way, there’s a bunch of great women in tech. I think there’s 42 or 43 CEOs in the Fortune 500 who are women, five in tech right now. There’s been more, it’s been going up and down. I feel like it’s a tremendous honor and a great privilege.

I’m one of many women leaders at Insight. About 60 percent of our senior executives are women at Insight. I feel like there’s plenty of people who’ve gone before me who’ve been doing a terrific job figuring out how to get teams to deliver exceptional results. I hope to follow in their footsteps and am super excited to do that with the team.

You spent 21 years at Dell Technologies. How will your experience there help you in your new role at Insight?

I’ve had so many different opportunities at Dell. In the 21 years I was there I probably had 15, 16 different roles all over the company. I’ve also had experience at Cummins Engine Company in logistics supply chain being a plant manager, so I feel like I’ve had many different functional roles in my career. [I’ve had] so many tremendous mentors from whom I’ve learned and so many great bosses. I think when you’ve got a really broad cross section of functional experience it just helps you understand the challenges your teams are going through and helps you sort of relate a little bit better to some of the problems they are trying to solve.

With the 21 years at Dell with all of those different jobs, I’ve got a lot of different experience in services, sales, operations, logistics…even strategy so I feel very well prepared. I am very grateful to all of my bosses and leaders and mentors who’ve helped me build skills. I’m sure I have so much to learn so I’m all ears. I’m really excited to learn more about our global business and learn more about this industry. I’ve been at Insight now for almost a year but being in the channel is certainly different from being in OEM. It’s a familiar terrain but it’s a different vantage point, that’s for sure.

According to a SEC filing, 2020 sales of Microsoft and Dell products accounted for about 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively, for consolidated net sales for Insight. What are your thoughts on growing those sales in 2022 and deepening those partnerships with Dell and Microsoft?

We are absolutely committed to differentiated growth at Insight across the portfolio and have a significant increased focus on solutions versus just pure products. The value we bring to our clients is really around delivering the outcomes that they’re looking for to make them more successful. We want to do that with the best technologies in the industry. Those are certainly two great partners for us, Dell and Microsoft, but they’re not the only ones. We expect to grow all of our strategic partnerships and we expect to deliver even more success to our clients. Ultimately it’s their success that we are counting on delivering so that we can continue to grow.

What is one challenge you ’re seeing in the channel right now and as CEO how would you address that?

There are several challenges that our clients are going through, and certainly we are positioned well to help. I would say top of the list for our clients these days is security. We feel well positioned, we’ve been investing in our security practice, we’re investing in our capabilities and we’re spending a lot of time with clients on this topic, so that is a place where we are doubling down.

The other specific areas are around modern workplace and trying to figure out how to make this flexible work environment, this hybrid work environment work well and deliver the productivity that our clients need.

A modern infrastructure is another area that’s really a challenge as people figure out how to understand which workloads should belong in which type of cloud. We’re well positioned to do that. And then one of my favorite topics of course is intelligent edge. I love the opportunity that that represents for all of us.

If we think about the edge being bigger than the public cloud today in just a few short years, there’s so much work and expertise our clients are banking on from Insight and companies like Insight to help them navigate that.

There’s a lot of M&A is happening the channel right now. What are your thoughts for Insight?

Our strategy has really been focused on three critical criteria. One is what is the strategic fit but how is it going to help us deliver even better outcomes for our clients in the areas where they rely on us.

Second is culture is super important. Most M&As fail and a big element for that is because cultures aren’t compatible and integration is hard, hard work. Finally, making sure that it’s a financially good investment for Insight and our shareholders.

With such a deep partnership with Dell, what do you think about Dell’s spin-off from VMware?

We spent a lot of time with the Dell and VMware leadership and we understand there’s a pretty strong contractual agreement in place between Dell and VMware. We don’t expect a lot of changes there.