Hosting its North American Partner Conference recently in Scottsdale, Arizona, Red Hat found itself in an odd situation. North American channel chief Roger Egan, usually the host of the event, announced his departure from the company just days before the event, taking a position as senior vice president of channel and sales at open source software vendor (and Red Hat ally) Docker.
That pressed worldwide channel chief Mark Enzweiler into the role of host for the North American Partner Conference, in addition to his usual role at the conference. Enzweiler said the company is actively looking for a new channel chief, with both internal and external candidates being considered.
“I’ve done several phone interviews with great candidates over the phone right here at the event,” Enzweiler said, going on to joke that he would liked to have met with prospects in person, but that perhaps inviting familiar faces in channel management to an event full of the company’s channel partners (and more than a few members of the channel press) might not be the best idea for all involved.
Internally, Jerry Lumpkin, senior director of North American channel sales and alliances, seems like a top candidate, and was involved in many of Egan’s activities at the conference. And Enzweiler suggested there’s no shortage of solid external candidates as well.
“It’s a good time to be looking for channel management professionals,” Enzweiler said.
Bradley Brodkin, president of Toronto-based HighVail Systems, a Red Hat partner, had high praise for Egan, but nonetheless said Egan’s moving on “is a good thing” for Egan, for Red Hat, and for the company’s partners. He said he favours them bringing on someone who’s “not just built a channel, but also built a collaborative model” of a channel program.
“The core of Red Hat is not just young in age, but started very young as well,” Brodkin said. “They need to look at VMware, NetApp, and Cisco. Cisco’s probably the most similar, because like Red Hat, they primarily do one thing – in Cisco’s case networking – and they have to partner and build collaborative arrangements amongst the partners they work with.”
Bringing on a channel chief with experience from the industry will also help the company to speed up the process of maturing its channel programs and engagements, a change Brodkin said is necessary for Red Hat to move to the next level in the business world.
“It’s time to grow up. It’s going to be fun to watch,” he said.
Brodkin said Red Hat’s Canadian partners are well set-up, especially with the recent hiring of former NCR and McAfee Canada boss Luc Villeneuve to lead Canadian operations. Villeneuve, Brodkin says, is exactly the kind of veteran leader that Red Hat needs guiding the ship as it continues to mature both its offerings and its presence as a company.
“He was a sales rep in the channel, he understands the challenges,” Brodkin said. “In that kind of role, you don’t want a passive individual, you want an A-type, because they’re going to have to make some tough decisions.”
Meanwhile, Enzweiler is getting used to a new dynamic with his former North American right-hand man, Egan, whose new role will still involve him being in regular contact with Red Hat’s channel team – this time as a partner rather than a manager.
“It’s going to be interesting. He hasn’t called me up yet to ask for MDF, though,” Enzweiler said with a laugh.