Julie Parrish is no stranger to the IT channel, that’s why her departure from Symantec Corp. as its vice-president of the global channel office, came as a surprise to some when she left the company in October.
Last month, Parrish took on the role as vice-president of worldwide channel sales for data and storage management solution vendor, NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP). Before her channel chief position at Symantec, Parrish was the vice-president of the Americas field and channel marketing at Veritas, which was later acquired by Symantec in 2005.
No doubt has Parrish had a very busy year both pre and post-move to her current employer. When asked to look back on her time at Symantec, Parrish says for her, the biggest news of the year was the company’s work in increasing partner satisfaction rates.
“This was a cross functional effort led by Enrique Salem, our COO, to drive everything from product quality to order process to programs to support,” Parrish said. “Based on an internal survey we did, we found we had a 10-fold increase in partner satisfaction over the past year.”
On the solution front, Parrish says the two biggest solution areas to come from Symantec this year were its Symantec Endpoint Protection product portfolio launch and also its data loss prevention (DLP) technology. As a result of the company’s acquisition of Vontu last December, the security vendor was able to delve deeper into the DLP market space.
“This is an area that will redefine how our partners sell,” Parrish said. “It will open up new conversations with partners and their customers and it’s a way for the channel to add value.”
Parrish said she feels her biggest success and accomplishment with Symantec this year was in her work with Symantec University for Partners, which the company announced during its annual Partner Engage channel conference in the fall. The offering is available to all of Symantec’s partners worldwide who are members of the company’s partner program. Symantec University for Partners is available through live classroom training, through hands-on labs, on-demand eLearning, and expert mentoring and provides partners with additional resources and accreditations.
“Symantec University for Partners was a tremendous highlight for me because it pulled together a much stronger curriculum of services and support to our partner community,” she said.
Last month, John Thompson, CEO at Symantec, announced he will be retiring at the end of the fiscal year. Salem, has been appointed by the company’s board of directors to become president and CEO effective April 4, 2009. Thompson will still remain as the board’s chairman, and Salem will also join the board as well.
Parrish’s reaction to the news was a feeling of sadness, because she said Thompson had been CEO of Symantec for 10 years.
“I was sad…because John’s so charismatic and has an incredible presence,” she said. “He led that company through good times and in bad and always came out on top. Even though there was some disruption with the channel over what was said in a conference call with Enrique, at the end of the day, that man understands the channel.”
The channel disruption Parrish refers to took place following a conference call with financial analysts held June 12 by Salem. When the transcript of the call was made public, misconceptions about the company’s distribution and channel model quickly surfaced, including that the company may be moving to a one-tier distribution model and taking SMB license renewals direct. The job fell on Parrish to quell the rumours that, she said, were created by media and partner misunderstandings.
During a previous interview, Parrish said Salem’s “comments were misconstrued and got twisted around which is unfortunate. Media outlets didn’t talk to enough partners or come to me first to help put those comments back into context.”
Parrish had said at that time, that Symantec was not moving from a two-tier to one-tier distribution model for its largest customers, as was previously reported. She said customers have always been able to buy solutions directly from the vendor and, of its top 700 to 900 large named accounts, roughly two-thirds of that revenue was already going direct to Symantec. The rest of its revenue, she said, flows through the company’s partner community. As for taking SMB deals direct, Parrish said this was not true either.
Now at NetApp, Parrish said she hopes to make it clear that her new role and company change was not a move to “get away” from Symantec.
“I had been there for six years and a lot of the work I had done was in integration work both pre and post the Veritas acquisition,” she said. “I felt I accomplished a lot and NetApp was a different opportunity for me in a different space. This is a company that has a huge growth opportunity in the market.”
In her new post at NetApp for only three weeks, at time of publication, Parrish said NetApp currently has about 1,500 partners globally. Her number one objective now, she says, is in getting to all of her territories around the world to talk with NetApp partners.