Toronto – In his first official interview with the Canadian channel press, Max Long, the new Microsoft Canada president, said he jumped at the chance to run the subsidiary despite the challenges they face.
At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto the software giant revealed its New Era of Computing strategy that will revolve around the single largest product release schedule in the company’s history.
In fiscal year 2013 every single Microsoft product line will be refreshed or relaunched including Office, Bing, Kinect, Windows 8 OS, Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 and Windows Phone 8 enabling channel partners opportunities to sell the expanded portfolio.
Channel partner readiness for these new products will be one of Long’s priorities early on. He sat down with CDN to discuss this along with other topics.
The following is an edited transcript.
CDN Now: You arrive at Microsoft Canada at its most challenging time in its history. What’s your plan to bring Microsoft Canada back to prominence?
Max Long: Well I jumped at the chance to become the president of Microsoft Canada. I’ve been in worldwide roles in Seattle and I have enjoyed going deep on certain parts of the business and leading a partner sales team with LARs and solution providers. But I’ve always wanted the opportunity to run the business from an end-to-end point of view; from Xbox to the enterprise. And, in Canada I am enthused at the opportunity especially now with Microsoft’s new era of computing. I’m not an emotional guy. I don’t dance around the table and do things like that. But I am meeting with partners from across the country, key customers and people like you; the press and other influencers about this opportunity. And, I think it will be immense for the Canadian market. I want to say that Microsoft Canada is in a good position and yes I do want the Canadian subsidiary to be at the top. We are all going to have to work at it to do that, but the opportunity is there.
CDN Now: You are meeting with channel partners all week at the Worldwide Partner Conference. What are you telling them about readiness plans for the 2013 product launches?
M.L.: It’s about execution for the Canadian partners. I also want to build strong partner relationships with smaller partners all the way up to larger partners. I think they are all enthusiastic to be a Microsoft partner. We have frankly come a long way from a product portfolio standpoint. We need to take it to the next level with them in a co-selling way.
CDN Now: Will the first ever Microsoft Store in Canada be located at the Yorkdale mall in North Toronto?
M.L.: I am excited and delighted that the first Microsoft International store will be at Toronto’s Yorkdale mall. It is a great location and I have heard that it’s the most profitable mall in North America. We plan to hire 50 new employees for the store and we just started advertising for those positions this week at the WPC. This is great news for Microsoft Canada. The official launch will be a great time for the city as well. From my perspective to have the WPC in Toronto and the store in the first few months of my job here is tremendous.
CDN Now: Is the plan to do Toronto first and then open up elsewhere in Canada?
M.L.: We are considering other store locations but we first have to do some work in those communities.
CDN Now: You have worked in the U.S. and the U.K. How would you compare the Canadian channel with the channel in those other regions?
M.L.: I am in sponge mode right now and meeting with channel partners everyday whether they are LARs or in the SMB. I am still trying to understand the landscape of Canada and so it’s not appropriate for me to compare the three. But as competencies and passion goes all three are very common to what is around the world right now in the channel.
CDN Now: The Microsoft Canada president has always been very visible in the community and done philanthropic work. Do you plan to do the same and if so what would be your biggest cause?
M.L.: In my third week on the job I planted trees and I just loved doing that. It was a great way to get out and contribute and give back to the community. I don’t know if there will be one single cause but we will have a focus on youth not just with me but the entire leadership team at Microsoft Canada.
CDN Now: I have heard internally at Microsoft Canada that the president’s job is just a three-year position and then the executive leaves for bigger and better things. Do you look at it that way?
M.L.: I can’t predict what will happen in the next three years. But I will say that I am accountable for Microsoft Canada. I have to grow the business and I want it to be the best in the world. I know that other presidents such as Phil Sorgen and Simon Witts held this role for three years but I do not think that’s a bad thing. There is no time limit on this job. If I want to stay here and Microsoft wants me to stay in the role then I’m here if its what my family wants. I just want to do the best job possible for Microsoft Canada and the channel partners.