New Sage channel chief Jennifer Warawa discusses her shift to the new role, and her plans

In another of multiple executive moves announced by Sage, Nancy Harris, former Canada Managing Director at Sage, is also formally announced as North America Managing Director, a role she has been executing for some time.

Jennifer Warawa, Sage’s new EVP of Partners, Accountants, and Alliances

Sage has completed some significant restructuring in its senior executive ranks, which sees former channel chief Alan Laing named as the permanent Managing Director for the U.K. and Ireland, replacing an exec who left the company suddenly earlier this year. Laing has been replaced as the EVP of Partners, Accountants, and Alliances by Jennifer Warawa, who had been Sage’s Head of Product Marketing. Warawa’s old position has been merged with Nick Goode’s Product Management organization, and Goode now becomes EVP Product. Finally, in another announcement of significant not directly connected to the others, but being formally announced at the same time, Nancy Harris, who had been Sage’s Canada Managing Director, has now been named as North America Managing Director.

Most of these balls began rolling as part of the reaction to Jacqueline de Rojas’ sudden departure from Sage in February, less than six months after her high-profile recruitment from Citrix in September 2016. She had been appointed as EVP for Northern Europe, an expansion of the core management role of Sage’s home base in the U.K. created expressly for her. After her departure, Alan Laing moved over to fill her role on an interim basis, although in its original definition as Managing Director for the UK & Ireland.

“Alan stepped in and had been doing a great job, so the decision was made by both Alan and the executive team to take that on permanently,” Warawa told ChannelBuzz.

While the two Product organizations have been united under Nick Goode, Warawa stressed that this wasn’t done solely to cover her move as part of the executive shuffle.

“Aligning the two Product organizations is something that we had been talking about doing for a while,” Warawa said. “We would never make a critical decision for the business like that solely in reaction to someone leaving. Over the years at Sage, we have gone from a very decentralized model to a much more centralized one. The original structure evolved because Product Marketing reported to the CMO and Product Management reported to Development. That structure did work, but with the overall shift in the model, it made sense to now put it under one leader.”

Warawa said that while she is coming from Product Marketing to run channels, she has channels in her background and strong relationships with many Sage partners. She is an accountant and was a Sage partner before joining Sage ten years ago.

“I’ve spent a great deal of time with the channel, and have been involved in partner strategy from the first month I came to Sage,” Warawa said. “I ran the small business channel from the U.S. for a number of years, am very close to our top partners around the globe, and have relationships with many partners.”

Warawa said initial partner reaction to her appointment has been strong.

“A number of partners from around the globe have reached out to Blair [Crump, Sage’s President, and Warawa’s new boss] or myself, and the reaction has been very positive,” Warawa said. “I think we re in a very good place here. I believe I’m someone that partners know and trust, because I have very strong relationships with the partner community and understand what it’s like to be in their shoes.”

Warawa said that she is starting her new tenure with an extensive road trip to meet with partners.

“I’ll be spending first 90 days out on the road, in 10 different countries and 19 different cities, to get a clear perspective of what works and what doesn’t from a partner perspective.” she said. “I’ll determine where we have some gaps, and put together a short and long term plan to meet partners’ needs.

“Everyone stepping into any new role can see things that can be done differently,” Warawa added. “Partners are going through business model transformation as they move to subscription-based sales and cloud. They are looking for us to increase sales and marketing support, and to be easier to do business with.”

Canadian partners are high on the list of priorities for Warawa, who is originally from Kelowna B.C.

“Every market has specific nuances and needs, and Canada is a very important market to us,” she said. “We are making sure that what we are doing in the market meets their needs, and I have already reached out and connected with a number of Canadian partners.

Warawa said that partners can expect to see more about her strategy at the upcoming regional Sage Summit in Toronto, on June 27-28.

In addition, Nancy Harris, who left the Sage Canada role last summer at her own request for a U.S.-based role, has now been formally announced as the permanent North America Managing Director. Last summer, she moved to an EVP role with responsibility for Construction and Real Estate, Accountants, and Partner Programs for all of North America. At that time, however, Sage North America was run by a President. That position has disappeared, however, and Harris essentially assumed the same role, but with a different title.

“She has been managing the North American business for months, and when it was first made public, this was acknowledged to be on an interim basis,” Warawa said. “It has now been made a permanent appointment.”