Partners reflect fondly on Cisco’s Keith Goodwin

Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of Cisco’s worldwide partner group

Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of Cisco’s worldwide partner group

Cisco’s worldwide channel chief is heading for retirement, but he’s leaving behind a legacy of personal partner engagements and top-notch enablement programs. His successor has big shoes to fill, but Cisco’s Canadian partners are optimistic based on Keith Goodwin’s track record and their hope that Bruce Klein will stay the course.

During his tenure as senior vice president of Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Organization, which began in 2005 and will come to a close at the beginning of August, Goodwin was a major driving force behind the final transition of Cisco’s channel partner programs from volume- to value-based. Surrounded by a team of strong channel-minded executives, Goodwin’s seven-year stretch at guiding the networking giant’s channel is looked upon fondly by Canadian channel partners.

According to Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development at Long View Systems, a North American Cisco partner headquartered in Calgary, Goodwin went out on a high note with Cisco Partner Summit 2012 in San Diego. One of the strengths McDonald most admires about Goodwin is the executive’s ability to listen to partners, gather information, ask pertinent questions and then form and execute on action items that ultimately benefit Cisco partners.

“What I liked about Keith he really tried to figure out at the end of the day what the problem or the challenge was,” MacDonald said.

In his role as channel chief, Goodwin has had the ability to separate the wheat from the chaffe and find the real issue that partners are dealing with, and then have Cisco address the problem, MacDonald said. He added that he has sat on some committees in which problems are noted and reported, but then they’re not addressed. That wasn’t a problem with Goodwin at the helm of the ship.

“We trusted him. The commitment was ‘we’ll look into it, we’ll fix it.’ We didn’t have to feel we had to hold Keith and his team accountable. Keith held his team accountable on our behalf,” MacDonald said.

At the same time, Goodwin is a personable executive who always took time out to speak to a partner when he ran into them, MacDonald said.

Following conferences, it’s not always the case that executive mandates filter down into the field and to the channel, but Goodwin was always good about keeping his word and enabling partners, said Wendy Lucas, area vice president for Dimension Data Canada. She said it’s refreshing to see that.

“Keith has his lieutenants, if you will, really implementing and executing on that strategy, and that’s critical to us,” Lucas said.

With consistent strategies and a direct and honest way of dealing with partners, Goodwin’s approach to managing a channel organization stood out, Lucas added. Under his management, the strategy and tactics of Cisco’s WWPO have become more clear, more concise and more definitive.

Lucas noted there are still struggles in the organization as it continues to grow, but she said she’s happy with how Goodwin and Cisco have given equal attention to all partners and provided a more open strategy.

Goodwin’s successor has big shoes to fill, but both Lucas and MacDonald said they were optimistic. Klein will transition from his role as the head of Cisco’s U.S. public sector business into his new role as head of the WWPO. With a current focus on the U.S. market, Klein will have to begin engaging with Canadian partners in a more direct manner. MacDonald said he looks forward to Klein’s first visit to Canada.

But what are partners hoping to get from the new senior vice president of Cisco’s WWPO? In short, they want him to stay the course and continue providing the enablement programs — such as Teaming Incentive Program (TIP) and Value Incentive Program (VIP) — that partners see as being the foundation on which Cisco’s channel success is built.

“I think not many would protest that we see them as foundational now. They’re long past their proof of concept and they’re seen as part of the business and part of the financial plan,” MacDonald said.

Lucas said she expects Klein to continue on the mission that Goodwin laid out and continue giving equal attention to all partners.

“Cisco in Canada continues to grow, and we want to continue to grow along with them. There have been a lot of changes, all positive,” Lucas said.