CDN’s #7 Newsmaker of the Year – Rola Dagher & Bernadette Wightman

After three years at the helm of Cisco Canada, Bernadette Wightman passed the torch to Rola Dagher. But before she left, she carried Cisco Canada into 2017 off the momentum that made her 2016’s number six newsmaker.

The first few months of the year was just the beginning for a busy 2017 company wide. Cisco announced three new partner incentives, including an expansion of its Cisco Capital Easy Pay program, and a new piece of boardroom technology called the Spark Board built around its Cisco Spark platform. Cisco also took a bigger stand on security, centered around automation in the cloud.

Rola Dagher (left) is replacing Bernadette Wightman as President of Cisco Canada

Throughout her three-year tenure as the first woman president at Cisco Canada, Wightman furthered and enhanced Cisco’s channel commitment to Canadian partners. She also launched the Women’s Entrepreneur Circle to help female business owners, and served on the Ontario Premier’s Advisory Council to encourage female participation on boards.


“I believe Wightman’s story and her tenure at Cisco Canada is so compelling because of how she integrated herself into the community. Her involvement was deep and widespread. Everywhere I went in this industry, someone would ask me about her or provide a comment on meeting her somewhere, and telling me how great the experience was,” wrote Paolo Del Nibletto, former CDN Editor, after his exit interview with Wightman in June.

Wightman passed the torch on to Dagher, a 25-year veteran of the vendor and channel community. She was most recently the vice president and general manager of the Dell EMC Infrastructure Solutions Group. She had been with Dell since 2012 after working within the channel at CompuCom Canada and with Bell Canada.

At the Cisco Connect Toronto show, Dagher told channel partners that she had spent the first 90 days on the job listening and learning. Since Cisco Canada deals with 1,675 channel partners, strengthening those relationships is a top priority for her.

“I’m charging 150 per cent forward with our channel partners. About 95 per cent of the business goes through partners and I will be working to enhance and improve how we do business with them. It’s about providing value and focus on the solution, especially today as everyone is transforming. Partners need to take the same approach as the market,” said Dagher at the event.

Like Wightman before her, Dagher is making digital transformation a huge priority for the Canadian operation. She will also be bringing more effort to security, adding that partners should be making it a priority as every single discussion she has had with customer IT decision makers has started with security.

At the 2017 Cisco Partner Summit in November, the company outlined what the channel profitability plan will look like for its new network intuitive strategy and product line, a big focus for the company in 2018. This involved releasing new metrics for profitability for intent-based networking, such as the decreasing the time it takes to deploy policy changes down from hours to minutes.

This strategy will be a key focus for Dagher. “Our 2018 strategy is all around the Intuitive Network and this is not just about pushing boxes. It’s more about the solution with security and software. This strategy is from a global perspective and we are Canadianizing it,” she said.

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Alex Radu
Alex Radu
is a staff writer for Computer Dealer News. When not writing about the tech industry, you can find him reading, watching TV/movies, or watching the Lakers rebuild with one eye open.

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