Phil Sorgen replaces Jon Roskill as Microsoft’s global channel chief

Microsoft has a new global chief – and in good news for both Microsoft Canada and its Canadian partners, he’s no stranger to life north of the border.

The vendor announced Thursday that Phil Sorgen will take over as vice-president of the worldwide partner group and global channel chief on Sept. 1, replacing Jon Roskill, who will move on to a role in product development. Sorgen served as president of Microsoft Canada for three-and-a-half years before returning to the U.S. as head of the U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) Group.

In his new role, Sorgen will report into Vahé Torossian, corporate vice president of worldwide SMS&P.

“Our partner ecosystem is a key asset to Microsoft and carries tremendous strategic importance to the company,” said Torossian, in a statement. “Phil’s rich leadership experience in working with our customers and partners in the United States and Canada makes him an ideal fit to help our partners drive new opportunities as Microsoft transforms into a company delivering devices and high-value cloud services.”

In a Q&A posted by Microsoft, Sorgen didn’t indicate any significant changes would be coming to the course Roskill and other Microsoft charter for partners at last month’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston.

“At (WPC), Steve Ballmer and Kevin Turner presented a bold and attainable vision for Microsoft as a ‘devices and services’ company. With the company realignment announced a few weeks ago, this vision is quickly becoming a reality,” said Sorgen. “Partners have been core to Microsoft for more than 35 years and will be critical to this transformation. My focus within the Worldwide Partner Group will be to ensure this company vision is enabled in concert with the channel. I am committed to that goal.”

Sorgen also affirmed his commitment to the channel, which was a key part of the business when he ran the Canadian subsidiary.

“Our partner ecosystem is one of our greatest differentiators in the market, and I could not be more excited about the role of the WPG organization in helping foster the development and growth of this ecosystem,” said Sorgen. “It’s really simple: We cannot fulfill our vision of being a devices and services company without the help of our broad partner base.”

In a farewell blog, Roskill, who ran Microsoft’s global channels for three years, said it was time to pass the baton and expressed his confidence in his successor.

“Phil’s extensive experience working with U.S. and Canadian customers and partners will translate well into the role of channel chief, and I’m confident that he will continue to grow and diversify our partner ecosystem to meet the ever changing needs of our customers,” said Roskill. “My plan is to return to my roots of product development and take all the great insights I gained from my time with our partners and use them to create even more partner opportunity.”

Sorgen’s tenure as president of Microsoft’s Canadian subsidiary was viewed positively in the industry and by the channel, and in 2007 he was named CDN’s No. 5 Newsmaker for a year that included launching Windows Vista, Office 2007, Windows Live and Visual Studio 2008, as well as the opening of a development centre in Richmond, BC.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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