Joyce Mullen On Leaving Dell, Michael Dell And Channel Partner Farewell

‘Dell Technologies is never going to stop innovating, is never going to stop listening, it’s never going to stop trying to improve our processes, our programs and our effectiveness. Partners should bet on Dell,’ says Dell’s Channel Chief Joyce Mullen.

Joyce Mullen: ‘Partners Should Bet On Dell’

Channel champion Joyce Mullen is set to leave Dell Technologies after 21 years with the company -- the last three years leading the company’s channel charge.

“I’ve had great opportunities at Dell Technologies, and I’m really grateful for that, but I want to do it again at another company,” said Dell’s global channel chief Mullen in an interview with CRN.

Channel partners said Mullen played a critical role in bolstering partner sales over the past two decades, from creating a new partner program through channel feedback to helping transition Dell in the 2000s from a mostly direct vendor into a channel superpower.

“I can’t say enough about Joyce. She was a real channel champion to us and to the partner community in general,” said Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Waltham, Mass-based Dell Titanium partner and 2019 CRN Triple Crown award winner. “She helped us through various customer challenges and enabled us to grow year after year. She’ll be sorely missed in the channel.”

Mullen, president of Global Channel, Embedded & Edge Solutions, is a 21-year Dell veteran currently responsible for Dell Technologies’ global channel strategy, partner program, solution provider enablement and channel sales execution. In an interview with CRN, Mullen speaks about her reason for leaving Dell, not having CEO Michael Dell as a boss in the future and why channel partners should still “bet on Dell” even after she’s gone.

So why leave Dell after 21 years?

This is obviously a tough decision. I feel like I’m part of the furniture, since I’ve been around for 21 years. I’ve been able to contribute to making Dell Technologies the great company that it is. When I stepped back and talked about it with my husband and my kids, it became really clear that I want to go be a member of a very senior leadership team at a smaller company and do it again—make another company really terrific. I’ve had a great opportunities at Dell Technologies, and I’m really grateful for that, but I want to do it again at another company.

The timing works fairly well for me personally to make this transition now. I’m really excited about the new challenges of doing that – maybe learning some new technologies, learning a new industry – I’m pretty excited about it.

What’s your message to Dell channel partners? Should they be worried?

No. Heck no. Dell Technologies is a great partner. Our message is our customers need us more than ever right now because digital transformation activities are here and accelerating, and they need our help and our partners expertise. Dell Technologies is never going to stop innovating, is never going to stop listening, it’s never going to stop trying to improve our processes, our programs and our effectiveness. Partners should bet on Dell.

I love it and I loved meeting each and every one of our partners. I hope to work with them again in some other capacity.

Is Dell’s channel strategy changing at all with your departure?

No, there is no change in our highly differentiated go-to-market strategy with me leaving. We have the world’s greatest sales force and the world’s best partner community. The magic happens when we line those two up. Nothing changes about the strategy.

We have an incredible team of professionals in the channel. They are awesome, capable and are more than ready to step in and pick up any slack that is created by me moving on. I have no issue with that. I know Billy [Scannell] is working on making sure that we’re going to optimize the structure and make sure we have the right people in place to keep on trucking. We’re on a roll here and we want to stay on it. So no change in strategy. It’s just a timing issue for me.

Has Dell selected a replacement for you?

[Dell Technologies’ president of global sales and customer operations] Billy Scannell (pictured) has even more experience than I do, and he’s been working with partners for a very long time. He is working on figuring out who exactly it should be, the right structure and all of those sorts of things.

When’s your official last day?

August 14. I want to make that sure we manage through the end of the quarter and get things moving. I’m not in a big hurry, but you know, it is the right time for me to transition and move into the next chapter.

What’s it going to be like not working for Michael Dell anymore?

He’s an amazing leader and an amazing person. I’ve learned a ton from Michael, Jeff Clarke, Marius Haas, from Bill [Scannell]. I expect I will stay in touch with all of them. Yes, I will miss working with Michael for sure, but I have learned so, so much. Michael and Jeff’s leadership through the pandemic COVID-19 crisis and also through some of the racial injustice issues that we’ve faced recently has been nothing short of exceptional. I feel very proud to work with such an incredible leader, leadership team and company.

Do you know where or what your next position will be?

I don’t yet. I would tell you if I knew, but I really don’t know. I’ve realized as I started to think about this that it would be pretty hard for me to do my job at Dell while I was looking for a job. I want to take some time and think carefully about the options and look at some different industries. I can tell you that it most likely will be in technology because I love it and I feel like there’s a really important role for technology to play in improving the world – I want to stick with that. I hope I get to work with partners and I hope I get to work with Dell Technologies in the future in a different capacity.

It’s an interesting time to be looking for a job during COVID-19. What are you looking for?

You’re right, and we had this same conversation in my house, ‘Is this the right time to do it?’ I think technology is a relatively resilient industry. Digital transformation is not stopping. The timing fits what I want to do personally and I also feel like there’s definitely opportunities out there. Although I haven’t looked at any in particular yet, I feel like the market is still moving. If it takes a few months -- three or four months -- that will be fine with me.

I want to be a leader in a company. There’s a lot of space between the size of Dell and the size of a startup. There’s a lot of room in there. I’m sure I’ll narrow that down as I move forward.

What will you miss the most after you leave Dell next month?

I’m going to miss the people. We have an amazing team at Dell, an amazing partner community, an amazing set of OEM customers and I feel like they’ve become friends across the board, whether internally or externally.

I’m going to miss trying to figure out how to listen intently to our partners and how to figure out how to turn that feedback into action. I think I’ll be able to use some of those skills in my next endeavor as well. But our partners have been extraordinary generous in our feedback and really helped us shape the direction of the Partner Program.

Third, I’m going to miss figuring out how to drive digital transformation really really fast through an incredible era that we’re in right now that has been accelerated outside of our own control, and maybe that piece I’ll be able to stay involved in in some other capacity. I’ve really loved the people and the culture at Dell.