Gigamon announces ex-Riverbed channels exec Michelle Hodges as new channel chief

Hodges talks with ChannelBuzz about her new role at Gigamon, what she brings to the table there, and how she expects to increase the opportunities the company provides to partners.

Michelle Hodges, Vice President of Worldwide Partner Sales, Gigamon

Gigamon, a networking visibility vendor that has been steadily building out a complementary security side of their business, has announced the hiring of Michelle Hodges as Vice President of Worldwide Partner Sales.  She reports directly to Burney Barker, Gigamon’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales, and replaces Barbara Spicek, who moved over to Veritas to run their channels last year.

While Hodges has been in the industry for two decades, she was most recently Vice President, Global Channel Strategy and Programs at ‎Riverbed. There, she reported to then-senior vice president, global channels Karl Meulema and managed five businesses, including the channel program, enablement, services, and an incubation team on managed services.

Hodges, speaking to ChannelBuzz on her second day on the job at Gigamon, was understandably shy on detailed specifics of her plans, but she indicated the general contours of her role at Gigamon.

“While I have done program transformation in the past, I was brought to Gigamon for my experience in services and solutions and go-to-market sales and driving those embedded relationships in the field,” she said. “We will be investing more in that joint embedded go-to-market.”

Hodges said that she will also be overseeing an expansion of Gigamon’s channel routes to market. She indicated that doesn’t mean a big expansion of their traditional reseller channel, but it does mean growing their developing presence among other partner types.

“I don’t know that we will grow our channel much more, although there is an opportunity for a handful of partners on the security side,” she indicated. “However, part of the reason I was brought in was my experience in the system integrator and MSP spaces. Gigamon has these types of partners now, but are really just beginning there. I have great executive level relationships with MSPs, particularly in Europe, as well as the global SIs.”

Hodges said that enhancements will also be made to Gigamon’s partner program to accommodate these other partner types.

“We have an excellent core partner program that suits all partner types, but it is primarily focused on resale partners,” she said. “Over the year we will also focus on building it out around value performance solutions.”

Hodges noted that some good foundational changes, including a Professional Services Partner Program, had been implemented last year, and that in the first quarter of this year, the marketing team had doubled the amount of MDF funding available.

“I look forward to leveraging that,” she said.

Hodges said that her first task will be spending time with both the North American and global teams at Gigamon to get to know them well.

“You have to be of the field to serve the field, to learn what’s going well and going great,” she said. “We will also host a partner cocktail at RSA, and I will spend the better part of May travelling globally talking with partners.”

This month, Gigamon is also launching Elemental, a new awareness campaign about them being central to an organization’s ‘elemental shift’ to their security approach. It will be mostly digital, but will also be at Gigamon’s events and demand gen campaigns that will be available to their channel partners.

Hodges emphasized that she sees an exceptionally strong opportunity for the channel with Gigamon.

“I had partnered with them a lot in the past, and they are very strong when it comes to people, product and partner opportunities,” she said. “Their ‘One Gigamon’ culture is pervasive throughout the business. They have great leadership in the networking space, but also a phenomenal opportunity to grow in network security. The partner piece is a great opportunity. 96 per cent of the business is channel, and we can drive more incremental revenue. 60 per cent of customers come back more additional technology after their initial purchase, and the channel opportunity is 7x that. The services opportunity for the channel with Gigamon is also super strong.”