100 People You Don't Know But Should 2015 (Part 2)

Unsung Heroes

The technology industry is filled with rock stars, high-profile executives who stand in the spotlight at partner conferences and technology events to present the world with the industry's latest achievements. But delivering these breakthroughs to the world is hardly a one-man show and behind these executives stand the unsung heroes, the shining stars on vendors' channel management teams.

Each year, CRN recognizes the success of these individuals in the 100 People You Don't Know But Should list. While you might not recognize the names, you can rest assured that each has been instrumental in the success of his or her partners.

Here we present Part 2 of our annual honoring of the channel management executives who may have slipped under the radar despite building booming channel programs, designing innovative partner incentives, evangelizing hot technology and much more.

Be sure to also look at the behind-the-scenes channel players worthy of attention in Part 1.

Joseph Zeto, Ixia

Senior Director, Global Field, Channel Marketing

Over the past months Zeto has spearheaded Ixia's efforts to expand its year-old Xcelerate partner program, allowing partners to sell across the company's entire portfolio of solutions, as well as expanding partner enablement tools to include a partner portal and training.

Ivana Abruzzese, Kaspersky Lab

Sr. Channel Marketing Manager

A seven-year Kaspersky veteran, Abruzzese has run numerous campaigns with one goal in mind: helping solution providers succeed. Whether it's working jointly with sales reps and channel partners to build integrated marketing plans or working with VARs and distributors on forecasting, co-workers praise her as "one of a kind."

Melissa Humble, Lenovo

Director, Channel Programs Strategy, Operations

Lenovo's Humble leads the programs strategy and operations team responsible for creating, deploying and tracking the company's North American channel incentive programs. Through about seven years at Lenovo, Humble has developed expertise in sales leadership and lead generation, among other areas.

Steven Fitz, MapR Technologies

SVP, Worldwide Field Operations

MapR markets its Hadoop distribution and related software in the exploding big data market. Fitz leads MapR's go-to-market operations and has grown sales by a factor of 10 over the past three years, including solution sales through resellers and systems integrators.

Tracey Mead, Micro Focus International

VP, North America Channels, Global System Integrators

Micro Focus, which supplies application modernization and management software, merged with Attachmate in late 2014. Mead was named to the channel chief job in May, overseeing relationships with the vendor's reseller, systems integrator, ISV and application migration solution provider partners.

Albert Greenberg, Microsoft

Distinguished Engineer, Director Of Development, Azure Networking

Greenberg, an eight-year Microsoft veteran, is in charge of engineering for Microsoft networks, including software and hardware development as well as data centers. He helped develop several data center networking technologies that Microsoft uses today, including Virtual Layer-2 (VL2), Virtual Networks (VNets), Load Balancing (Ananta) and Data Center TCP (DCTCP). Prior to joining Microsoft, Greenberg spent more than 13 years at Bell Labs and AT&T Labs Research, where he developed tools for managing the carrier's networks.

Jacob Spoelstra, Microsoft

Director, Data Science, Azure Machine Learning Platform

Spoelstra, who joined Microsoft in March 2014, was a key hire for a company that's going all-in on machine learning technology, which refers to how computers can get "smarter" and more efficient over time through data analysis. He's one of Microsoft's top machine learning leaders, and works with customers and partners to "deploy advanced analytic models on the Azure cloud." Spoelstra previously held data science roles at Opera Solutions, SAS, FICO, Basepoint and ID Analytics.

Mark Davied, NetApp

Sr. Director, Worldwide Channels

Davied has not been as visible at NetApp as many of his colleagues, but that just gives him more time to focus on developing the company's channel marketing capabilities.

Nader Soudah, NexGen Storage

VP, Worldwide Channels

While Soudah has been with NexGen less than a year, he brings a wealth of channel experience at startup storage vendors. That's good news for a company like NexGen, which only came out of stealth this year.

Robert Westervelt, NTT America

VP, GM, Sales Global Solutions

Westervelt has helped build NTT America's channel program from scratch since starting in June 2014. The program, which focuses on integrating cloud, IP and data center services, launched in September 2014. NTT America partnered with telecommunications services broker Advantage Communications in March.

Chris Morgan, Nutanix

VP, Amercias Channel, Distribution

Morgan joined Nutanix this summer as the hyper-converged infrastructure vendor's first executive to focus solely on the channel. Now he's focused on shoring up channel operations, expanding the company's go-to-market options and scaling the indirect business.

Steven Poitras, Nutanix

Principal Solutions Architect

Poitras has been with Nutanix since 2011, and he's responsible for driving solutions that showcase the power of the startup's hyper-converged infrastructure. He's also author of "The Nutanix Bible," a huge collection of information about how Nutanix's software works and how it can solve tough technical challenges.

Tim Dwyer, Oracle

Director, Worldwide Alliances and Channels, Cloud Solutions

Leading the charge for Oracle's cloud partner offensive is Dwyer, an 18-year Oracle veteran currently driving the cloud software company's midmarket push with partners. Dwyer is a channel champion for partners, putting them on the front lines of Oracle's sales drive. He has implemented everything from a partner referral program to a co-seller model that teams partners with Oracle's direct sales force.

Rick Howard, Palo Alto Networks

Chief Security Officer

Since joining Palo Alto Networks in 2013, Howard has overseen the company's dive into endpoint security and the expansion of its cloud and SaaS application push. As the lead security executive at one of the industry's most-watched players, he's playing a key role in driving the security market.

Jake Schuman, PlanetOne

Partner Development Manager

Described by peers as ’a millennial on a mission’ to find and enable Southern California MSPs, Schuman is constantly on the lookout for ways to get more solution providers into PlanetOne's fold selling cloud, connectivity and voice services.

Tim Lieto, Plexxi

SVP, Worldwide Sales

Lieto joined Plexxi at the end of 2014, bringing some channel maturity to the SDN startup, which came out of beta the previous summer. The company last month nabbed $35 million in funding, money it plans to use to fuel its sales efforts as a 100 percent channel sales company.

Corey Pratte, PTC

Sr. Sales Director, Channel Sales North America

Pratte has served in his current post for three years, managing sales through the PTC Channel Advantage Program. PTC, known for its product design tools, is also pushing into the Internet of Things arena with its ThingWorx division, and it has tapped Pratte to build out the channel program to support it.

Farokh Karani, Quick Heal Technologies

Director, North America, Sales, Channels

Following channel-only Quick Heal Technologies' entrance into the North American IT security market, Karani oversaw the company's expansion of its North America channel program over the past year, specifically through new distribution alliances with TechWise Networks, Rain Networks and EIGRS.

Michael Mittel, RapidFire

President, CEO

If you're an MSP that wants to grow your business with top-notch tools for streamlining a network or ensuring regulatory compliance, Mittel needs to be at the top of your go-to list of contacts. As the man behind the vendor's popular Network Detective and Network Detective HIPAA Compliance offerings, Mittel is responsible for helping MSPs save their clients' bacon when it comes to HIPAA audits and IT assessment.

Stephen Mungall, Red Hat

Global Channel Sales

As Red Hat expands beyond Linux into virtualization, storage management and cloud computing software, it's relying on channel partners to extend its market reach. Mungall, in his current post for three years, drives Red Hat's key global partner programs and distribution plans.

Randy Johnston, Resilient Systems

Sr. Director, Channel Sales

It's no secret the security market is in hyper-drive, which requires a steady hand at the helm when it comes to business negotiations, customer advocacy, partnerships and channel management. And that's exactly what Johnston brings to the table. He knows the channel and has a long VAR pedigree to prove it.

Brenda McCurry, ScanSource

VP, Merchandising, POS and Barcode, U.S. and Canada

McCurry manages vendor relationships, guides strategy and directs her team in identifying and developing growth opportunities. She's one of ScanSource's go-to executives for cultivating vendor relationships and ensuring that the distributor's portfolio is well rounded.

Christopher Lee, Securematics

Sr. Director, Business Development

Lauded for bringing a fresh perspective, unique expertise and contagious energy to the security distributor, Lee has worked at both VAR and vendor firms. He recently launched Securematics' E-Rate Advantage Program, which helps simplify sales for channel partners working within the education market.

William Whearty, Sennheiser

VP, Sales, Marketing, Sennheiser CC&O, Americas

Whearty joined Sennheiser in 2003 as the first employee of its Communications Business sector in the U.S., tasked with launching and building the company’s contact center and office and PC headset markets. He's integral to the company's channel relationships, including its distribution partnerships with Ingram Micro and D&H Distributing.

David Turnbull, Siemens PLM Software

Sr. Director, Global Channel Development, Strategy

Turnbull is focused on enabling Siemens PLM Software partners around the globe to grow and profit by taking them into new geographies, industries or specialized applications. He also helps partners take advantage of Siemens' fully integrated portfolio to broaden and deepen their reach.

Steven Nekava, SimpliVity

Solutions Architect

Nekava is a driving force behind SimpliVity's approach to building hyper-converged computing systems and therefore a highly influential specialist in that emerging realm of technology, just as he once helped define EMC's go-to-market strategy for storage products.

Pino Soro, SimpliVity

Director, Global Channels, Alliances Marketing

Soro, who has boatloads of experience finding innovative ways in which to market technology, is guiding the hyper-converged infrastructure startup as it develops its channel strategy and builds out a global network of partners.

Kevin Bury, SolarWinds N-able

SVP, Business Operations

Bury's philosophy is simple: "The more we do to make our customers and partners successful, the more success we realize." At SolarWinds N-able, he's building new on-boarding processes, introducing an expanded team of specialists focused on partner success, generating new enablement content, and investing in training and education.

John Shier, Sophos

VP, Channel Technical Services

Shier has been at Sophos since 2007, most recently leading the security vendor's technical partner enablement. He is known for his security thought leadership and ability to explain complex technical terms in a way that is easy to understand.

Sal Patalano, Stoneware

Chief Revenue Officer

Through a varied 30-year career, Patalano has mastered both sides of the vendor-partner relationship. At Lenovo-owned Stoneware, Patalano has responsibility for all global sales and marketing, and is tasked with driving revenue growth and channel development.

Ariel Maislos, Stratoscale

Founder, CEO

A serial entrepreneur in the storage space, Maislos brought hyper-converged infrastructure software developer Stratoscale out of stealth late last year and is looking to make waves taking on more established players like SimpliVity and Nutanix.

Scott Lieberman, Symantec

North American Director, National Reseller Channel

Lieberman oversees Symantec's growth strategy, enablement and partner planning for Symantec's largest partner route to market in North America, responsible for $115 million in bookings. He has delivered partners a predictive analytics sales program to ensure they maximize sales to existing customers while increasing customer retention rates.

Stephen Thomas, Symantec

VP, Americas Channel Sales

Thomas is driving Symantec's channel, distribution and partner program strategy for the Americas, including the rollout this summer of a new partner program designed to make it easier for solution providers to climb up to Platinum status.

Alan Buttery, Synnex

SVP, Financial Operations

Buttery is Synnex's money man, helping partners find creative ways to finance deals. He launched Synnex RISE in the past year, a service that provides unlimited credit capacity, accounts receivable management and risk mitigation services to Synnex resellers. Over the past 12 months, this segment of Synnex's financial services business has achieved triple-digit growth.

Reyna Thompson, Synnex

VP, Product Management

Thompson oversees the distributor's networking and communications practice, where she is lauded for her ability to create value-added programs to capitalize on each vendor's niche. She aims to provide a bridge to the new technology era by keeping on top of emerging technologies while expanding channel business for some of the distributor's core vendors such as Dell, Symantec and Barracuda.

Jill Hayward, Tech Data

Director, Sales, Major Accounts

Hayward has helped Tech Data's channel partners drive incremental and net new sales by focusing more on the customer experience and leveraging the distributor's cloud, mobility and advanced infrastructure expertise. The distributor's sales team is also focused on innovation and profitable growth.

Pete Kofod, The Sixth Flag

Founder, CEO

The Sixth Flag, launched earlier this year, is an emerging vendor that develops Desktop-as-a-Service software for global companies that need remote desktop management solutions. The startup, early in its channel efforts, has begun recruiting midmarket-focused solution providers in the U.S.

Brian Snortheim, Time Warner Cable

Director, Indirect Channel Marketing, TWC Business Class

Snortheim is responsible for the ongoing development of TWC's channel marketing strategy for both agents and solution providers. He and his team have recently added a number of local channel managers to help solution providers close more deals.

Chenxi Wang, Twistlock

Chief Strategy Officer

A former analyst, Wang has plunged into the security market with key strategy development and thought leadership roles at both big vendors and startups alike. Most recently in August, Wang jumped to Twistlock to help the container security startup establish a dominant position in the market.

Erin Daly, Veritas

Director, Channel Operations and Programs, Americas

Credited for being a dynamic results-driven leader with more than 15 years of industry experience in sales, marketing and partner programs, Daly oversees channel operations and the development and management of the Veritas partner program in the Americas and will be instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition as it separates from Symantec.

Mark Nutt, Veritas

SVP, Global Channel

Nutt is tasked with driving profitable growth through increased market scale and reach and is working hard to provide greater choice and value for customers while delivering a more rewarding experience for partners. He's known as a strong results-driven leader.

Joe Chuisano, Verizon Enterprise Solutions

Managing Director, Global Channel Sales

Chuisano is enabling Verizon's rapid channel sales growth through strategic partnerships and alliances, calling on his extensive background in Internet of Things and business sales to help partners find the best solutions for their customers.

John Lindsley, Verizon Enterprise Solutions

Managing Director, Global Channels, Americas

Lindsley's in the driver's seat for day-to-day sales and business development, providing operational support and strategic program direction to Verizon's channel efforts. He is credited for being instrumental in driving strong sales growth for the past two years.

Gary Mullen, Vijilan Security


Over the past year, Mullen has overseen the launch of Vijilan Security in to the North American market, along with the strengthening of the company's channel-only product, ThreatRespond, which is designed to help managed service providers bring security services to clients.

Bruce Davie, VMware

CTO, Networking

This networking guru hailing from Scotland joined the virtualization giant when it acquired Nicira. Once a Fellow at Cisco and before that a chief scientist at Bell Communications Research, Davie's an intellectual powerhouse who's led teams designing cutting-edge networking technologies.

Tristan Barnum, Voxox


Barnum is a triple threat when it comes to moving the marketing needle at unified communications firm Voxox. She possesses an inventive creative eye and outstanding leadership characteristics, all while being "wicked" smart, according to those who know her. No stranger to UC, Barnum brings a deep bench of experience in her field and is a key strategist for Voxox when it comes to serving the SMB market.

John Sirianni, Webroot

VP, IoT Strategic Partnerships

With the looming implications of the Internet of Things hovering over the security industry, Sirianni is tackling the challenge head on at Webroot. Since joining the endpoint security and threat intelligence vendor in April, Siriianni has helped define the company's IoT strategy and launched a new toolkit for partners.

Steven Garrou, Westcon-Comstor

EVP, Corporate Strategy, Solution Development

Garrou is credited with leading the transformation of Westcon-Comstor into a digital logistics powerhouse. Under his guidance, the company says it is building the necessary foundation of people, processes, systems and tools to help partners traverse the chasm from providing traditional IT products to digital-based solutions that leverage the benefits of cloud and as-a-service technologies.

Christopher Burns, Xerox

VP, Global Partner Programs

Burns has directed Xerox's efforts to create a unified global partner program since joining the company in November 2013. The program – which increases partner benefits by 30 percent – is aimed at growing market share, accelerating SMB business and standardizing processes and systems.

Denise Hampton, Zebra Technologies

Director, Channel Strategy, Programs and Marketing

Since Zebra's acquisition of the Motorola Solutions Enterprise business in late 2014, Hampton has played a pivotal role in overseeing the design of an all-new partner program that integrates both channels, on top of driving growth for Zebra's channel.