New McAfee channel chief focuses on execution

Gavin Struthers

New McAfee worldwide channel chief Gavin Struthers

New McAfee worldwide channel chief Gavin Struthers sees himself staying the course that his predecessor set forth, with a renewed focus on execution and continued innovation at the top of the agenda.

Struthers, formerly the company’s channel chief for Asia Pacific, was given the nod as new senior vice president of worldwide channels at the security vendor last week, just days after former channel chief Alex Thurber left the company to take over sales at Tripwire.

Struthers said his priorities for his first 90 days on the job are simple – get in, meet the stakeholders, and make sure the channel organization is aligned with the business. Oh yeah… and get used to converting Celsius to Fahrenheit for the benefit of his new U.S.-based teammates.

“We don’t have to make much change right away because we have such a solid platform that we’ve built as a team over the last three years,” Struthers said. “We’ve got to make sure we drive the relevance of McAfee in the channel, make sure the channel community understands our solution offering and how we’re driving mutual profitability.”

His priority is to focus on execution in the channel program, particularly in the SMB market that the company has been building upon over the last year. That kind of focus on execution, he said, is his strong suit.

“I’m a sales guy by background and always have been up until three years ago, but I’ve always worked with the channel for leverage, for reach, and for success,” he said.

Struthers said McAfee’s efforts revolve around three main pillars:

  • Investing in partners: Struthers said McAfee will continue to build out new parts to the partner program, including adding new specializations. The company will also introduce this year a revised version of its Partner Learning Center education portal.
  • Growing with partners: “Partners want McAfee to provide relevant and differentiated profitability,” Struthers said. Examples of efforts this are include the company’s new deal registration program and protection for incumbent partners on renewals.
  • Optimizing for partners: “We haven’t always been the easiest to do business with in the past,” Struthers acknowledged, but the company is looking to streamline things for partners. An example of the company’s efforts: last year’s launch of an SMB-focused channel program.

Struthers said he looks forward to getting up to Canada to meet Canadian solution provider partners, but in the meantime, there’s “a great team in place” to help Canadian partners out, in country manager Ross Allen and Canadian channel chief Ned D’Antonio.

“I’ll be depending on those in-region teams to continue to take the lead,” he said.

The company has been signing up partners for its new SMB specialization, and Struthers suggested that trend would continue. He called security “a wonderful area of opportunity” for solution providers willing to build a practice.

“IT is exciting, but in security, given the evolving threats that customers face every day and every week, customers really need help,” Struthers said. “If [solution providers] are not looking at security more strategically than just anti-malware and firewalls, there’s a great opportunity out there, and I’m excited about the opportunity to help them find it.”

The move to the worldwide role at McAfee puts Struthers on what he calls his “fourth continental hop.” After starting out in South Africa, he moved to Dubai for Novell about ten years ago, reporting into EMEA. Then it was off to Asia Pacific, based in Australia, for McAfee. And now, onto North America.

The move isn’t complete yet – for now, the executive is “commuting” from McAfee’s Santa Clara headquarters to home in Australia pending a move to Silicon Valley.

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