Microsoft makes channel leadership changes

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Microsoft makes channel leadership changes
Satya Nadella

Microsoft has made changes to its channel leadership, appointing longtime employee Nicole Dezen the new position of chief partner officer, and corporate vice president of its Global Partner Solutions.

This position was formerly held by Nick Parker, who has been promoted to president of Industry & Partner Sales (IPS), and whom Dezen will report to.

The news comes ahead of Microsoft Inspire conference next week.

Unlike other tech conferences, which have returned in person or done a mix of live and online events, Microsoft held Inspire entirely online as the world continues to grapple with COVID-19.

Nicole Dezen: new chief partner officer


Dezen, who in August was appointed to corporate vice president of device partner sales, said she has experience working with global systems integrators (GSIs), independent software vendors (ISVs) and other partner types worldwide.

“As a long-time Microsoft employee and someone who has deep ties in our sales and partner organisations, I have always been motivated by the opportunities for growth and innovation that our partner ecosystem presents,” she said.

“The companies that comprise this ecosystem – device partners, global systems integrators, independent software vendors, services partners and others around the world – are enabling digital transformation for customers every day in ways that were unimaginable even a few years ago".

"It would not be a stretch to say I am passionate about helping these organizations harness the power of the Microsoft Cloud through services like Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Mesh and others,” Dezen added.

Dezen will lead the commercial partner business and a global team responsible for building and selling Microsoft Cloud applications, services and devices with partners.

She has more than 25 years of tech sales experience, including 15 at Microsoft since 2007.

In announcing Dezen’s new role, Nick Parker said that her new designation as chief partner officer “demonstrates our continued investment in our partner strategy and commitment to the importance of the entire partner ecosystem to Microsoft.”

“As chief partner officer, Nicole will have singular accountability for the commercial partner business,” Parker said..

“She will have a tremendous opportunity to lead, innovate and grow our mutual business with partners.

I couldn’t be more excited for Nicole as she takes on this new leadership role for our phenomenal partner ecosystem,” he added.


Nick Parker: new president of Industry & Partner Sales

The division Parker now heads includes Microsoft’s multi-billion-dollar sales business spanning industry, partner and enterprise commercial teams.

Parker has worked at Microsoft for more than 20 years.

He held the title of corporate vice president of Global Partner Solutions starting in August 2020.

During the unveiling event of the partner capability score (PCS), Parker said that Microsoft has seen US$28 billion in annual contracted partner co-sell value since the 2018 fiscal year, with 37 per cent co-sell revenue growth.


David Smith: new VP of channel sales

Other role changes to accompany Dezen’s include David Smith becoming vice president of channel sales and Julie Sanford serving as vice president of partner go-to-market (GTM), programs and experiences.

Both will report to Dezen.

Smith will focus on sales and business growth with our channel partners, while Sanford will be accountable for partner programs and GTM engines.

“These new roles and the increased investments we continue to make in our partner business demonstrate the importance of our ecosystem, the needs of our partners and the opportunity we have to serve customers together,” Microsoft said.

“Our mission in the Global Partner Solutions organisation is to build and sell Microsoft Cloud applications, and services and devices with partners, empowering people and organisations to achieve more," the tech giant continued.

Smith previously held the title of vice president of US partners..

He has worked at Microsoft for more than 23 years.

Sanford has worked at Microsoft for more than 15 years. 

She has held the role of vice president of the GTM Strategy and Programs team within the Global Partner Solutions organisation since May 2021.


Rodney Clark and partner program changes

Dezen’s promotion comes two months after Microsoft channel chief Rodney Clark decamped, and less than a week before the company's major partner event Inspire.

In May, Clark, then Microsoft’s corporate vice president of global channel sales and channel chief, announced he was leaving Microsoft as the tech giant rolled out controversial changes to its partner programs.

The most controversial changes included a 20 per cent premium on month-to-month commitments of popular software packages including Microsoft 365.

Partners alleged that the premium pushed customers to annual commitments and would lock customers in with their current managed service providers.

MSPs in turn would be locked in with their distributors, the partners said.

Annual commitments also prevent customers from changing their number of Microsoft licenses if they lay off employees or go out of business, potentially leaving partners on the hook to pay out the rest of the contract.

The other major change set to take effect in October is the introduction of partner capability scores to determine which Microsoft partners classify as “solutions partners” and receive “specialisations,” replacing the old gold and silver system, giving partners more incentives and training from the company.

In June, Clark started his new role as vice president and chief commercial officer of Johnson Controls.


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