Jim Sherriff is the new senior vice-president for U.S. and Canada at Cisco’s (Nasdaq: CSCO) Partner Organization replacing Wendy Bahr, who was promoted to the newly created role of global transformational partnership senior vice president.
Sherriff’s position is the last one to be filled after Cisco overhauled its Worldwide Partner Organization that saw Edison Peres become full-time channel chief. Sherriff has been with Cisco for nine years and was in China developing new channels and marketing for networking power.
The new organizational changes were made drive a three-to-five year plan to turn Cisco’s channel into an innovator, create new business models, establish the new global transformational partnership area and have Cisco become a leader in SMB.
When asked about the SMB direction, Sherriff said while it was a fair question since he was only on Day 2 of his new job he needed more time to validate his asumptions.
Sherriff will take the next 45 days to travel North America and meet with key Cisco channel partners, he said.
James Alexander, market analyst for Info-Tech Research of London, called Sherriff an “an interesting choice” for U.S./Canada partner lead.
“One of his three priorities is to grow small and medium business sales in North America. The China experience is going to help because Cisco is not the leading player there and he said it gave him the opportunity to try new and innovative ways of going to market which he can apply to the challenge in SMB,” Alexander said.
Key to his job will be the Canadian theatre, headed by Donna Wittmann. Sherriff said that while he does not have enough knowledge of the current situation he did work with Canadian solution providers closely during his time with HP in the professional services department. “I have to reengage myself with them. I have not spent too much time with Donna Wittmann, but I am looking forward to that,” he said.
Sherriff mentioned that his father is Canadian and that he spent a considerable amount of time in B.C.
He described the Canadian IT channel as critical to Cisco’s success. “From my perspective during my HP days is that Canada is a great place for innovation. I think Canada will provide a great opportunity for Cisco because it is a big enough market to test things out and validate programs and initiatives. I do plan to spend a lot of time in Canada,” he said.
Alexander also said that Sherriff’s services background at HP will help as the cloud continues to emerge partners are increasingly going to have to move to more of a services culture and a services revenue stream and that’s going to be a difficult transition for them.
“I think we are seeing a changing of the guard when you look at new channels leaders at HP, Microsoft and Cisco both in Canada and North America and even globally. To my way of thinking vendors are going to have to deliver some tough messages about changes in the partner ecosystem as cloud continues to evolve, and they are bringing in fresh faces to do it,” Alexander said.
Besides his nine years at Cisco, Sherriff’s career started at HP, where he spent 19 years mostly in professional services.
Sherriff also ran solution provider business for a few years that included partnership with Cisco and HP.
“I fundamentally believe that when you start a partner relationship you have to jump into the other person’s shoes and trade places with him or her. Any deal you put in place has to be based on a stable relationship of respect for the other and you have to make sure they are winning. The arrangement will not last long if its not win-win,” he said.
Sherriff added that sometimes you can’t produce a win-win and someone loses, but if you have great partnerships they can take a “hit”. He referenced the Cisco VIP program which took significant revenue away from Cisco to ensure that channel partners remained profitable.
One of the new challenges Sherriff would talk about is the Cius tablet and how it will roll out to the channel.
Sherrif said that Cius is a natural extension to Cisco’s whole collaboration strategy for enterprises and SMBs, but that more channel development will occur closer the shipping.