Attrition is an age old nightmare for all kinds of businesses across the globe. And technology world is no different. The executives at partner organizations while pitching vendor solutions would often join the same vendor to propel their career. Interestingly, many vendor executives are now eyeing senior management positions at partner organizations for their next level of professional growth.
A common trend is movement of executives from one vendor to another. It is a relatively easier route to fortify their job profile as a Country Head or an APAC leader at a global technology vendor.
Many vendor executives however are traversing the unconventional path to strengthen their career graphs with partner organizations in India.
A New Trend
The last quarter of previous fiscal year witnessed SonicWall’s National Channel Manager Syed Wasiq quit the security vendor and took charge as National Sales Head at Secure Network Solutions (SNS). SNS is a Chennai based partner organization specialized in security solutions. In March 2012, Sanjay Chhugani, Country Manager at Barracuda Networks for five years joined RAH Infotech. Head for Enterprise Sales for three years at Avaya, Sanjay Gupta left in 2011 to join Dimension Data.
“I believe this trend is a reflection of the maturity in our industry. This will continue to grow stronger because the larger OEMs/MNCs would not expand at the same pace as they did earlier and would often start bulging at the top. This will compel more senior executives to take this route to growth,” says Pawan Khurana, former IBM executive and now CEO at QuantM Net Technologies.
Khurana was General Manager - Channels (Services) - India/South Asia at IBM for four years before joining QuantM Net Technologies in mid 2010. Another vendor executive preceded this trend in the same year. Ganesh Mahabala quit VMware as regional director to work with Bangalore based Valuepoint Systems as Senior Vice President.
Sanjay Chhugani, Director – Sales, RAH Infotech says, “It is bit too early to label the migration of vendor executives to partner organization as an trend in the Indian IT landscape. Some executives have succeeded while others have not while shifting sides from vendors to partner organizations.”
Khurana with fifteen year plus experience in the IT industry states, “The advent of technology would keep reducing the entry barrier for new entrants from capital and time to mark a stand point. Thus making it easier for more people to break the shackles of corporate race and launch into the channel industry.”
The Career Growth
Syed Wasiq, National Sales Manager at Chennai based SNS comments, “The growth aspect in an individual’s profession drives them to take a different path. There is bound to be bit of stagnation in career while switching from one vendor and then to another vendor company.” After handling channel business across India at SonicWall, there were nothing more challenging and interesting which I could do there,” he adds.
Chhugani’s career span includes successful stints at Portwise and Ingram Micro believes, “Such career shift is more about taking up newer challenges. At RAH, I would be needed to play a much bigger role and add a better value to the organization.”
RAH Infotech headquartered at Gurgaon is a value added distributor with strategic alliances with dozen plus vendor companies for solutions in networking and security. He would handle a much larger product portfolio than his previous role at Barracuda, says Chhugani.
Wasiq agrees as he says, “I would have grown into much larger Asia Pacific roles at Sonicwall or some other vendor company. Those are more or less an excel sheet kind of jobs at the end of the day.” However at SNS, he has an abundance of opportunity available for business development, in terms of revenue and expertise.
“Another reason people move out from a vendor organization is that partners also make good money like the vendor. Hence it hardly makes a difference to the executive’s earnings,” says Wasiq.
Worth the Investment
An organization today invests money, time and resources to train a new recruit quite unsure about his tenure at their company. Hiring executives from the channel community can be an easier option for top management of a partner organization. However, N. K. Mehta, CEO, SNS comments, “If you recruit and invest in an executive from other partner organization, you might not know much about him / her. If you appoint a senior executive from a renowned vendor company, the recognition factor and industry experience is invaluable.”
Appointing a vendor executive at a managerial position is a big and at times a costly decision for CEO/ Director of a channel partner organization. The vendor executive brings a vast experience of working at different levels across geographies at a global MNC.
Ashok Kumar, Managing Director and CEO, RAH Infotech recruited Sanjay Chhugani from Barracuda Networks. “My perspective to hire the sales head for our company was not based on the fact that he should be from OEM or partner organization. I wanted the best person in IT business.” Chhugani’s domain knowledge, industry experience and channel relationship would be beneficial to the company’s growth, he adds.
Wasiq would have taken a role at some SI or another vendor if he did not choose to be part of SNS, says Mehta. “The problem of attrition still remains .However, I feel he has a larger and more challenging role here than his previous job.”
Wasiq is one of the key executives at top management of SNS whereas in a MNC, he would just be a part of the giant spectrum. He was earlier selling one product range but today he has a wide umbrella of alternatives with us, reasons Mehta.
Shift of Strategy
Shifting from a vendor to a partner organization holds tremendous career growth opportunities for an executive though coping with a new work culture (than a vendor) poses few challenges at times.
“Opportunities are enormous here even though the partner community is as dynamic as the vendor landscape. I joined SNS because they are focused primarily into security, which is a very lucrative domain space today. Working with a systems integrator company places my career escalation directly proportional to partner company’s growth.”
Chhugani is determined for a much bigger responsibility at RAH compared to his previous role at a vendor company. “I am handling a team of more people, diverse product line and a vast customer portfolio which will help my professional growth and management skills”, he says.
“My aim is to increase the company’s revenue five-fold and making it a 200 employee organization in next few years. The plan is to expand the company geographically as a much bigger PanIndia VAD,”says Chhugani
Here to Stay
Unlike a vendor, a channel partner is always geared up to try different business strategies and possibly win all the deals in the market. “It is practically an impossible thing. Hence, I organized the customer base of SNS and the team follows with the companies listed under it. The rest of the deals would be dealt as and when an opportunity comes in,” says Wasiq.
There are executives successful with established vendors but they may not grow or justify their roles at partner organizations as per Kumar at RAH Infotech. “Chhugani has a strong customer background, having worked earlier with SI companies like Apara and Sify. He is a well-known personality in the IT space and other vendors speak extremely well about him,” he says with confidence.
Syed Wasiq of SNS reveals, “My decision to join a partner organization (from a vendor company) was inspired by the story of Pawan Khurana, with whom I got acquainted during our stint at IBM.” I am personally very glad to have inspired one such friend and an ex-colleague, remarks Khurana.
The transition of a vendor executive to a partner official had died down almost a decade ago but surely reviving now. “I am aware that many senior executives who have taken this decision and made million dollar corporations from it. I wish all the success to everyone who walks on this route ,” says Khurana, QuantM Net Technologies.