New Brocade channel chief seeks to drive field alignment

New Brocade channel chief Regan McGrath

New Brocade channel chief Regan McGrath

While Barbara Spicek has long been the channel-facing leader at networking vendor Brocade, there was a part of the company’s channel efforts that did not report into her. In fact, channel sales reported into Regan McGrath, vide president of sales for the Americas.

But with a recent executive shuffle, the company’s channel efforts are being united under a single face – that of new vice president of global channel sales and marketing, McGrath. Spicek, meanwhile, is heading home to Germany to head up Brocade’s OEM business in the EMEA region.

And not surprisingly, given his background, McGrath’s priority in his new role is to drive tighter integration between Brocade’s own sales efforts and those of its channel.

“It’s a logical progression as we invest in the channel,” the Toronto-based McGrath said. “You have to have a high level of integration between the sales force and the channel, and I can accelerate that, because all of those [sales] guys used to report to me.”

Since taking over his new role at the beginning of May, McGrath said he’s had three priorities, and driving field integration has been chief among them, driving alignment between the company’s sales team and the channel in a consistent fashion.

“I’m working to understand our program and make sure it’s aligned, I’m always digging into the subtleties,” McGrath said.

The other two priorities involve creating new relationships – first with the company’s VAR community around the world, and second with the company’s distribution partners, particularly around Brocade’s growing campus networking opportunity.

“We’re really excited about the opportunities there, so I’m spending a lot of time with distribution partners, making sure we’ve got the right programs in place for the channel to drive a significantly larger part of our business,” McGrath said.

And of course, building channel relationships means getting out and meeting the partners. That includes stops both abroad (meetings in Europe this week, a July Partner Summit in China) and closer to home (meeting with top Canadian partners like Scalar and OnX.)

Aside from his recent experience with channel sales reporting into him, McGrath said his channel pedigree goes back for the length of his 12-year career at Brocade. At that point, he said, “we all did everything,” working direct, channel and OEM sales, “because we didn’t know which way the whole storage network game was going to go.” Before joining Brocade, McGrath’s background includes management roles at Alias Wavefront and Silicon Graphics.

“I’ve always been selling to the channel, or managing teams that sell through the channel,” he said.

And while he says he feels he brings more of the “end user perspective” to the channel business with his sales background, he said his channel philosophy won’t differ too much from that developed by Spicek.

“It’s all about selective recruitment, we want to do our best not to overdistribute,” McGrath said. “We want to train our current partners and up-level them, and recruit where necessary. I don’t have a target for my channel sales team in terms of recruitment, it’s about making the ones we have more successful and more profitable prior to spending a lot of time adding more.”

At the same time, McGrath said he sees a lot of opportunity in the marketplace at current, both with the company’s campus networking lineup and its focus on networking for virtualization and the cloud. Add in at least one intangible, and there’s plenty of business to go after.

“There’s a big opening in the marketplace right now with discontent with our competition, and there’s an opportunity for us to take advantage of that,” McGrath said.

In his new role, McGrath will continue to be based out of the Toronto area – both the company’s offices in the city, and his home office in the city’s suburbs. “The only real difference is that I’ll be heading back to corporate [in San Jose] more frequently,” he said. “That, and Asia an EMEA are going to start to enter into my travel schedule as well.”