In every issue of the Canadian Channel Chiefs Council (C4) newsletter we try to feature a C4 member to gain insights from their experiences, learn about their channel journey, and what advice they have for their peers in the channel community.
In this issue, we turn the spotlight on Mandy Grewal — a veteran of the IT channel. Grewal is the Canada country leader for SoftwareONE, software licensing specialists and a solution provider member of C4.
C4: How did you become involved in the channel?
Grewal: I moved to Canada from England about 15 years ago; I’d worked in financial solution sales and was looking for a change. There were a lot of opportunities out there and I started working for a gaming company that had expanded to Canada. I loved it; it was a lot of fun.
Then I got a role at Tech Data (as a product manager) and that’s how it started. From there it was a question of wanting to do more and more. I loved working at Tech Data. It taught me about process and gave me a lot of business experience, understanding margins and working with partners. That’s where I got a passion for partnerships and understanding how to make them work.
When the opportunity came to manage Softchoice’s Symantec business it was a great career opportunity. It allowed me to expand on what I was already doing and got me closer to the customer, which is what I ultimately wanted – an understanding of what the customer wants, their pain points, and what really drives demand generation.
I then went to Insight to manage their Microsoft business, as I needed to understand Microsoft more, and then to CDW, who gave me the opportunity to manage the software business as software solutions manager. It gave me the opportunity to implement what I’d learned in software and create a business within a business – I figured out I could build a business and effectively run it.
At SoftwareONE I had the first opportunity in my career to lead a company and also create it as a subsidiary within Canada. It was something I felt very passionate about, and I believed in the business model. It was different and there was a need in the market for what SoftwareONE was able to deliver. A lot of it was dealing with the core of the business, Software, and then expanding it out from there. Working closely with Partners and developing tools and solutions to help deliver value to customers in an effective ecosystem. It meant applying everything I’d learned and yet doing it differently. SoftwareONE came to Canada at the same time as the Cloud and was moving aggressively. I had the chance to start the organization right at the cusp of that transformation.
C4: What makes for a good vendor partner?
Grewal: It’s alignment on priorities and transparency, being transparent in your objectives and goals, talking the same language and being on the same page on how you service the customer. Joint selling and having good solutions. The alignment is key. It sounds corny but it’s really that partnership piece; you have to be good partners, work together and want each other to succeed. It’s always being honest, and making sure you’re on the same page with each other. You need to be an extension of each others organization.
C4: Why do you pick one vendor over another?
Grewal: A lot of it is looking at the ease of doing business – how easy are they to work with, for us and our customers. Also, the programs they’re running: what are the incentives for partners and customers, do they make sense for my business? The technology plays a role. We’re an organization that’s very consultative; we have a lot of Solution Consultants that will work with the technology. When you’re in front of the customer, you’ve got to provide them with the best and right technology possible so you want to make sure you have the best technology. Is the Partner investing in their own business to continue to drive new technology and programs or have they become complacent? We consistently invest in our own tools and resources to ensure customers are continuously being provided with the best available today to enable them, we expect the same from our Partners. You also want a vendor that will provide the best customer service. That sometimes gets lost – the customer and partner experience is so important. It’s about how it feels.
C4: What advice do you have for someone looking at a career in the channel?
Grewal: A lot of it comes down to what your passion is, having a positive outlook and to not lose who you are in the journey but to grow. This will help you pick the right company and career path for you. There are many roles within the IT business that you could do. I think a lot of it is really discovering what you’re good at because then you do it well. Everyone in my organization does a test: discover your strengths, discover what you’re good at and passionate about. And then we enable our people to be the best they can be, we believe Leadership is a service.
I would never have gotten this far if I hadn’t been open to new ideas and feedback, and had a good sense of who I am and what I want. Having good mentors is another key element; someone investing in your career and investing in you. It could be anyone. Throughout my career I’ve always had mentors I could go to that, when I had a challenge or a question, they would guide me through them. You’re never past learning or growing, no matter what role you are in. It’s one of the keys to my success within SoftwareONE and one of the reasons I am happy here. I am surrounded by great people who want to help, who want to see me succeed, and I am always open to hear their suggestions. They enhance who I am, and help me grow.
Just be open. There’s a lot of things you can do. Don’t feel like the place where you start is the final one for you.