2020 Channel Chiefs: The 50 Most Influential

In celebration of CRN's 2020 Channel Chiefs, here are 50 leaders who drive the channel agenda and evangelize the importance of channel partnerships.

The Most Influential

Our 50 Most Influential Channel Chiefs of 2020 are an elite group drawn from the larger pool of Channel Chief honorees each year that represent the cream of the IT channel crop – leaders who drive the channel agenda and evangelize the importance of channel partnerships.

All Channel Chief honorees are selected by CRN’s editorial staff on the basis of their professional achievements, standing in the industry, dedication to the channel partner community and strategies for driving future growth and innovation.

The complete 2020 CRN Channel Chiefs list is featured in the February 2020 issue of CRN and online here.

Amazon Web Services

Doug Yeum

Head of Worldwide Channels, Alliances

Yeum has been listening to Amazon Partner Network partners and moving quickly on their priorities. To that end, he helped launch the AWS Service Ready Program that endorses products from APN Technology Partners – ISVs who develop software that integrates with AWS services.

APC by Schneider Electric

Shannon Sbar

VP, Channel

In 2019 the company reallocated resources to support its e-commerce efforts in its National Solution Provider channel. Sbar repositioned top talent and resources to expand their expertise with these accounts. This channel saw double-digit growth in 2019. The company has also seen strong channel adoption of its SaaS-based EcoStruxure IT for Partners.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company

Donna Grothjan

VP, Worldwide Channels, Alliances, SMB

Organizations want flexibility and choice in how they obtain and support their edge infrastructure. Grothjan has led Aruba’s efforts to give partners the ability to do just that by helping to define the partner go-to-market strategy for Network-as-a-Service and its various elements. She helped launch two programs that enable partners to provide NaaS offerings to their customers: Partner Ready MSP for Aruba and HPE Greenlake for Aruba.


Stacey Marx

SVP, Partner Solutions

Marx led the way as AT&T continued to invest in its partners and expand programs with new and innovative products, enhanced enablement tools and more education to help solution providers boost their business. The company ramped up its cybersecurity offerings through its new AT&T Cybersecurity business division, launched AT&T Fiber Fast across all channel programs, and debuted new products through the channel including AT&T AMOC and AT&T Data Flow.


Joe Sykora

VP, Global Sales, Channel

Sykora rolled out a strategy in 2019 to focus on partners globally. He also brought on a new global MSP and cloud leader, a new channel chief in North America and a new channel chief in EMEA. Under his direction the company launched a revamped MSP Partner Program in June, helping MSP partners drive business growth and providing them with more marketing tools and dedicated operational and business support.


Charlie Tomeo

VP, Channel Sales

Tomeo’s mission is to continue focusing on the channel at Carbonite and has worked to unite the Carbonite and Webroot channel programs. As its channel leader, he is working across the organization to create a partner program that has standardized margins for the entire product portfolio and is fully integrated with the Webroot channel team. Under his management the company has seen double-digit growth in the MSP channel.

Check Point Software Technologies

Frank Rauch

Head of Worldwide Channel Sales

Under Rauch’s leadership, Check Point developed a channel strategy for 2019 that helped partners win new customers and increased customer adoption of Check Point advanced technologies. Rauch, who joined Check Point at the start of 2019, has overseen efforts to open up new markets through partners and cloud alliances and developed a new partner program for 2020.

Cisco Systems

Oliver Tuszik

SVP, Global Partner Organization

Under his Perform and Transform strategic framework, Tuszik helped partners capture more business as reflected in Cisco’s fiscal 2019 results: a 13 percent increase in the number of customers served, a 14.5 percent increase in the total number of deals through partners, and an additional 2 percent growth in bookings through partners. Tuszik has expanded partner programs with incentives and enablement to ensure partners adopt a lifecycle-first approach.


Bill Lipsin

VP, Global Channel Sales

Lipsin guided the creation of a new partner program at Cohesity, including a tiered model helping partners to grow with Cohesity, and an automated market development tool for access to joint marketing resources and incentives for signing new customers. The program helps partners maximize profitability and provide value to their customers. Almost 75 percent of Cohesity’s active partners grew their business in excess of 100 percent in the last year.


Craig Schlagbaum

VP, Channel Chief

The real highlight for Schlagbaum has been building the company’s multimillion-dollar, award-winning channel program from the ground up, with hundreds of partners selling for Comcast Business on a monthly basis. He has also helped mentor, grow and develop his team as leaders. He oversaw the creation and expansion of an Internal Partner Sales Manager team based in Denver, along with additional sales directors, field marketing and operations.


Matthew Polly

VP, Worldwide Business Development, Alliances, Channels

Polly’s key achievement is driving the cultural shift to consider the channel in CrowdStrike’s go-to-market strategy. The company has transitioned from a disruptive startup to a public company with an international presence and multiple routes to market via resellers, MSSPs, global systems integrators and OEMs. He has been instrumental in the company’s expansion across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America with new distribution and resellers.


Rob Rae

VP, Business Development

Rae planned, organized, implemented and hosted DattoCon Paris and San Diego, two of the largest events in the managed services space. He also owned and implemented over 150 partner meetings via road-show format, helping MSPs grow their businesses. MSP partners have also benefited from the company’s launch of Cloud Continuity for PCs.

Dell Technologies

Cheryl Cook

SVP, Global Partner, Embedded & Edge Solutions Marketing

Cook shaped strategy and helped develop program incentives to drive Dell’s “Simple. Predictable. Profitable” mission. She collaborated with partner leaders across Dell’s family of businesses to make it easier (and more lucrative) for partners to do business with Dell. Top accomplishments included the launch of the new Dell Technologies Partner Program, increasing partner access to a more holistic solutions portfolio.

Dell Technologies

Joyce Mullen

President, Global Channel, Embedded, Edge Solutions

The accomplishment Mullen says she is most proud of is the foundation of collaboration, continuous improvement and aligned goals built across an incredibly talented team and partner ecosystem. She describes a real sense of partnership in this ecosystem with everyone working toward the same strategic vision. She cites the company’s record high partner net promoter score, the result of efforts to meet promises to partners of “simple, predictable and profitable.”


Curtiz Gangi

Sales VP, Midmarket, U.S. Channels, Data Center

Gangi has regular face time with partners throughout the year to align with them on Eaton’s view of the market, strategic value and where the company invests in them. This helps to support field teams and engineers as they implement business plans and increase partners’ competencies. The results: Continued partner growth, an 85 percent increase in the Certified Partner Network, and the relaunch of the Services and Software program certifications into the channel.


Chris Carter

VP, Americas Channel

Carter launched a new partner margin incentive program through promotional offerings and collaborated on the strategy to introduce new cloud subscription offerings for the channel. He led channel team efforts to simplify FireEye’s partner program, which accelerated partner access to top-tier benefits sooner, including rebates, accelerated discounts for partner-sourced opportunities, access to managed services, and access to new enablement training and tools.


Jon Bove

VP, Channel Sales

Bove was instrumental in the creation of the Fortinet SOC Authorized Partner Program, a unique initiative to align a handful of top-tier, pure-play SOCaaS/MDR experts with traditional Fortinet partners (VARs and MSPs) who aspire to be MSSPs but lack the expertise, people or funding to build and deliver these services themselves. Development of FortiSIEM for MSSP licensing allows MSSP partners to utilize FortiSIEM on a pay-as-you-go billing basis, providing a predictable cost model for MSSPs looking to launch a SIEM service.


Carolee Gearhart

VP, Worldwide Channel Sales

Gearhart advocated to get partners fully integrated into Google Cloud Sales Kickoff for the first time. She drove tight alignment with direct sales, PSO and marketing leadership to fully embed partners into Google’s go-to-market motions, resulting in increase of partner attach in deals. She managed the launch of the new Partner Advantage Program that was created for and with partners, to empower all partner types with tools, technology and support.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Paul Hunter

SVP, Worldwide Head, Partner Sales

Hunter is responsible for driving the growth of HPE’s $20-billion partner business. His partner organization cites rapid growth in HPE GreenLake sales through the channel as a major accomplishment (up 308 percent year over year in the FY19 fourth quarter): The channel accounts for 24 percent of HPE GreenLake business overall. Hunter also drove significant investment to provide the partner technical community with the same learning and collaboration opportunities as HPE sales teams.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Leslie Maher

VP, North America Channels, Ecosystem

Maher was the leader for the Volume Compute (ProLiant Rack/Tower Servers) and re-energized HPE’s transactional business into SMB by enhancing product offerings, competitive pricing actions and demand generation campaigns, which led to incremental revenue growth that is 100 percent channel. She was also instrumental in the launch of HPE GreenLake 3.0 to accelerate the shift to consumption-based pricing.

Hitachi Vantara

Kimberly King

VP, Global Partner Strategy, Programs

King drove program advancements aligned with customer requirements, marketplace trends and partner engagement preferences—from streamlined incentives and certifications and a re-energized focus around service-capable partners to inside sales support. Her efforts resulted in double-digit growth in partner contribution around strategic growth areas including content, analytics, cloud services and IoT.

HP Inc.

Vincent Brissot

VP, Channel Digitization, Operations

The name of the game is driving efficiency with and for channel partners, according to Brissot. With this strategy in mind, Brissot chartered his organization with delivering the most effective ecosystem of digital channel tools in the industry. That included delivering best-in-class channel digital platforms, enhancing communications with partners and improving partner skills.

HP Inc.

Scott Lannum

VP, GM, Americas Commercial Channel Sales

Despite the headwinds and challenges the industry faced, Lannum’s team prevailed to deliver consistent growth in the channel. A big part of this growth could be attributed to the team’s work to build relationships with key alliance partners to drive momentum. The result is that brand awareness, consideration and preference is at an all-time high.


Carola Cazenave

VP, Head of Partner Ecosystem, North America

Cazenave’s biggest accomplishments have been in strategizing: Growing four times the market rate and targeting $1 billion additional revenue via the Embed strategic play; driving the design of an execution engine that simplifies the go-to-market model and increases consumption; and leveraging synergy with Red Hat. The partner organization created an Embed team to grow the company’s sales through partners and customers that develop software with embedded IBM technology.


Todd Garrigues

Director, Partner Sales

Being “customer obsessed” is Intel’s mantra, and Garrigues’ focus was driving the voice of partners into business units and stakeholders, (through advisory councils), as well as increasing the transparency and clarity of Intel messaging outward through increased press relations and other engagements. He cites the record attendance and ecosystem participation at the U.S. Intel Partner Connect conference as a key accomplishment, driving collaboration across multiple segments.


Jason Kimrey

GM, U.S. Channel, Partner Programs

Kimrey drove increased transparency throughout the channel as he invested in growth initiatives for partners across client, data center and IoT. He delivered new programs for partners with new capabilities in areas such as AI and machine earning and led visibility for Intel in the channel.


Jonathan McCormick

COO, Head of Sales

Getting the word out about Intermedia’s highly differentiated reseller partner programs was a major focus for McCormick in 2019. Not only does Intermedia have the products businesses are looking for, but the reseller model allows partners to earn at least five-times more revenue. His organization added a co-branded option to the reseller model and launched an Intermedia Contact Center for the partner community.


Rob Cato

North America Channel Chief

To address segment-specific customer needs, Cato’s team created “communities” that provide exclusive benefits to drive solution providers and customer segment strategies. He also created a Lenovo Fanatics program to recognize individuals at partners who have championed Lenovo in unique ways. The organization invested in channel marketing to educate, motivate and celebrate solution providers, and reduced the number of partners covered by each channel account manager.


Nicole Roskill

Executive Director and Worldwide Channel Chief, Lenovo Data Center Group

Roskill’s appointment to this new role in the Data Center Group in 2019 provided an opportunity to re-assess Lenovo’s partner engagement model and to refocus resources to better engage partners in meaningful ways. She and her team provided new partner quoting and configuration tools for partners and expanded solution offerings for partners through the On Demand program.


Sammy Kinlaw

VP, Worldwide Channel, OEM Sales

Kinlaw’s top accomplishments in 2019 include leveraging relationships with the distribution team and growing the product portfolio to find synergies and cross-sell into markets that Lexmark has not tapped into in the past. He is leading the efforts to empower and promote partners more than ever. His organization introduced a “hunter team” channel sales organization to drive opportunities for partners and a new Lexmark Partner Net hub service that allows partners to access the value of the Lexmark brand.


Ken McCray

Head of Americas Channel Sales, Operations

Under McCray’s direction, McAfee has made major investments to innovate not only its products, but also its diversity and inclusion, and gender pay parity. From individual contributor to leadership positions, the channel has diversity through age, gender, race and cultural background. His organization launched a North America Channel Renewal Process, increasing the company’s gross retention rate more than 10 percent through the channel.


Gavriella Schuster

Corporate VP

With partner feedback and engagement along the way, Schuster drove major investments/ improvements to the digital partner experience. Partners now have one place to manage their entire relationship with Microsoft: membership, skilling, certifications, incentives, managing Marketplace solutions and more. Microsoft’s partners played a major role in the significant 2019 growth in Microsoft’s core products including Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure: Partners, for example, contributed 92 percent of commercial billed revenue for Office 365 in fiscal 2020 Q1.


Chris Lamborn

Head of Worldwide Partner Go To Market, Programs

To improve partner experiences, Lamborn made key changes including faster go-to-market stemming from improved cadence; increased listening programs and regional flexibility; new incentive plans ensuring partners earn extra margin and partner sellers hit quotas faster. His organization implemented the Channel Incentive Portal to improve simplicity and consistency around rebates, incentives and joint investment programs for partners and introduced the Global Star Partners level in the NetApp Unified Partner program.


Christian Alvarez

VP, Americas Channel

Since arriving at Nutanix, Alvarez has been advancing the company’s multi-year channel strategy to significantly simplify its approach to partnering. He is focused on enhancing incentive programs to provide increased predictability for partners for greater investment while maintaining an accretive partnership. He and his team, for example, established new rules of field engagement to provide partners with a more consistent experience with Nutanix.

Palo Alto Networks

Karl Soderlund

SVP, Worldwide Channel Sales

Palo Alto Networks’ top achievement this past year was the launch of the enhanced NextWave Partner Program. The feedback Soderlund received from partners was paramount in helping to identify the necessary enhancements. The adoption by partners has exceeded the company’s highest expectations: Since the launch partners generated 53 percent pipeline growth year over year and more than 700 partners grew their business by more than 100 percent.


Nick Tidd

VP, Global Partner Organization

Following Plantronics’ $2-billion acquisition of Polycom in 2018 and the rebranding of the company to Poly, Tidd has worked to provide partners with a unified portal, deal registration tool and other digital assets and services to help partners work with the new company and its brand. He is overseeing the development of a new, unified partner program and partner relationship management system.

Red Hat

Mark Enzweiler

SVP, Global Channel Sales, Alliances

Enzweiler and his team established a value-based channel model. Red Hat is no longer using a silo-specific approach. Some programs will be route-specific but it’s all about value delivered to the customer. In many partnerships value-based challenges have replaced bookings/revenue targets. In the last year Enzweiler oversaw a build-out of a global SMB business supported by a data science team and more than 300 global resources across four regions.


Brian Breton

Global Channel Strategy, Americas Channel Sales, Operations

Breton led an overhaul of the RSA SecurWorld Partner Program, introducing improvements that make it more inclusive for partners and providing more ways to achieve higher status – leading to more partners at Titanium and Platinum levels. He also initiated more product-based channel promotions on key high-demand RSA products, providing partners with the ability to gain more margin on opportunities, and providing all partners with key target enterprise-level accounts to hunt for with added RSA-based incentives.

Scale Computing

Scott Mann

Director, North America Channel

Mann grew the channel team that contributed to Scale Computing’s wins in the Converged/HCI and Desktop/Server Virtualization categories of the CRN 2019 Annual Report Card awards. Scale Computing won all sub-categories for both technology categories including product innovation, support, partnership and managed/cloud services. The channel organization introduced the new Partner Portal – The Scale Computing Partner Community to empower and differentiate partners.

Schneider Electric

Nichols Windpassinger

Global Channel Program & Digital Platforms VP

EcoXpert was named a 5-star partner program by CRN for its third consecutive year. Windpassinger drove strategies, evolving the program to its current growth. He and his team also established a vigorous training program for channel partner employees, training more than 500 people in 2019. The channel organization also developed five new competency badges to build up the cross-expertise of the company’s channel.


HoJin Kim

VP, Worldwide Channel Sales

Kim continued to drive adoption of SonicWall’s portfolio through the introduction of specializations that incentivize partners to educate themselves and sell across the product portfolio. He also implemented changes for a more flexible Continuing Education Points Program, allowing partners to undergo training that is most relevant to them. The channel organization increased the amount of MDF for SecureFirst partners by more than 127 percent and the SecureFirst program now has more than 20,000 authorized partners.


Kendra Krause

SVP, Global Channels, Sales Operations

Krause oversaw the go-to-market strategy and expansion of new managed service offerings and training initiatives developed to fuel and streamline growth opportunities for partners. It’s her goal to maintain Sophos’ “channel best” status, and she’s focused on driving all areas of the business to meet this standard. The company has invested heavily in its MSP Connect and Cloud Security Provider programs in response to feedback from partners.


Michael Valentine

Chief Revenue Officer

Valentine’s most significant accomplishment was setting and overseeing Sophos’ “channel best” strategy, ensuring partners are put first in everything Sophos does—from product development to sales, marketing and support. He’s unwavering in his commitment to ensuring partner success. In 2019 he and his team worked to standardize the Sophos partner program on a global scale across the Americas, Asia/Pacific/Japan and EMEA.


Lee Schor

VP, Sales, Americas

Schor restructured the sales team by adding laser-focused presales channel support: He grew the BDR (business development representative) team by a factor of six to help partners capture new opportunities, created an enterprise team focused on driving large opportunities to channel partners, and established dedicated field resources focused on growing the channel business.

Ubiq Security

Steve Pataky

Chief Channel Officer, Head of Americas Sales

Pataky designed and launched the inaugural Ubiq Security Channel Program and initiated recruiting top-tier security solution provider partners globally. The company signed some significant partners within six weeks of the program’s launch. Of utmost importance was having Ubiq’s go-to-market launch be centered around the channel.


Kevin Rooney

VP, Americas Channel Sales

Rooney made the decision to increase profitability and incentives for partners committed to building a partnership with Veeam. This included an increase in growth rebates for Gold and Platinum partners as well as increased monetary incentives for marketing, sales and technical personnel at partners. The company has continued to see strong revenue growth in all customer segments. And since Veeam is a 100-percent channel company, partners have helped drive – and profited – from this growth.


Jenni Flinders

VP, Global Channel Chief

Flinders led the redesign of how VMware engages with partners. The new VMware Partner Connect program brings simplicity, choice and innovation to partner communities. It is a single program designed to transform partner engagement and growth opportunities. Flinders also improved investments in programs for VMware partners to increase the ecosystem’s capabilities and capacity.


Bill Swales

VP, Channel Chief, Americas Partner Organization

In partnership with his leadership team, Swales embarked on a 26-week listening tour with VMware’s most strategic, services-centric partners. They built a plan that included investments in top partners and the launch of PartnerNow!, a co-selling initiative resulting in over 5,000 in-person partner engagements. Swales also developed a feedback- and data-driven plan with VMware’s Americas Partner Advisory Council to address profitability barriers and competitiveness.

Wasabi Technologies

Marty Falaro

SVP, Global Sales, Alliances

Falaro oversaw the launch of the new Wasabi Partner Network program, which now has more than 1,300 partners globally. He built a channel team focusing on the Americas and Europe to support Wasabi’s new data center in Amsterdam and recently signed a strategic deal to bring Wasabi to Japan through a global partnership with NTT. The new partner program also offers an API that allows partners to fully integrate Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage into partners cloud services and billing platforms.

WatchGuard Technologies

Michelle Welch

SVP, Marketing, Channel

Welch spearheaded the expansion of the WatchGuardOne partner program, designing and introducing specializations in network security, secure Wi-Fi and multifactor authentication. She has focused on partner enablement and growing the program to be more accessible to more partners. The launch of WatchGuard Passport, which bundles several user-focused security services, makes it easier for partners to license and monetize WatchGuard solutions.