Splunk taps Microsoft exec Gretchen O’Hara as new global channel chief

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Splunk taps Microsoft exec Gretchen O’Hara as new global channel chief
Gretchen O’Hara (Splunk)

Splunk has named Gretchen O’Hara, a long-time Microsoft marketing and channel executive, to be Splunk’s new channel chief, the unified security and observability platform developer will announce later today.

O’Hara starts at Splunk today with the title vice president, worldwide channels and alliances.

She will oversee the company’s channel operations and manage the company’s relationships with its more than 2,400 partners around the world.

O’Hara replaces Bill Hustad, Splunk’s former vice president of alliances and channel ecosystems, who left the company in July to become senior vice president of global partners and alliances at Okta, a leading provider of identity and access management technology.

“For a very long time, when I was building ISV and developer channels at Microsoft, I have really seen Splunk as an incredible company,” O’Hara said in an interview with CRN US, specifically citing the “fierce loyalty” of Splunk’s customers and the critical role the company’s technology plays in managing data in business transformation initiatives.

“When I look at Splunk I see this really rare, exceptional combination of mission-critical products, the people and the culture, and the market potential,” she continued.

“That combination and the opportunity to really be part of that next wave of transformation that’s required for our customers to succeed in this distributed hybrid, multi-cloud world was an opportunity for me that I just couldn’t refuse."

"So I’m incredibly excited to lead the channel here,” she added.

O’Hara will report to Christian Smith, Splunk senior vice president and chief revenue officer.

“Partners really are critical to our business. So what we really wanted to do was find a leader who was proven and understood the broad ecosystem of partners and alliances that are necessary to successfully bring our solutions to our customers, to bring them to life,” Smith said in an interview with CRN US.

“Oftentimes organisations have leaders that learn on the job and grow into roles."

"But at this size and stage of [Splunk], we really wanted somebody who had been there and done that, someone who was deeply rooted in channels and alliances with a proven track record,” Smith said.

O’Hara joins Splunk after working at software giant Microsoft for more than 18 years, most recently as vice president of United States AI & Sustainability Strategy, a post she has held since March 2020.

Throughout her lengthy tenure at Microsoft she has held a number of marketing and channel management positions including vice president of go-to-market strategy, One Commercial Partner; general manager of enterprise marketing, US subsidiary; senior director of worldwide cloud partner strategy; director of worldwide emerging channels; and director of worldwide channel competitive strategy.

O’Hara’s appointment follows a number of changes in Splunk’s executive ranks over the last year or so, including the resignation of president and CEO Doug Merritt in November and the hiring of Proofpoint founder and CEO Gary Steele in March as the company’s new president and CEO.

Splunk has also undergone significant changes to its business.

The company has doubled down on marketing its machine data platform for observability and security tasks.

And it has been transitioning its product line to cloud-based software and its pricing to a subscription model and annual recurring revenue.

On the financial front Splunk, a publicly traded company, received a US$1 billion investment from private equity giant Silver Lake in June 2021 in a move to strengthen its balance sheet after the company experienced slower sales in 2020.

In March of this year private equity firm Hellman & Friedman acquired a 7.5 per cent stake in the company.

Splunk, meanwhile, has continued to expand its channel efforts.

In June 2021 the company launched a significant revamp of its partner program and rebranded it the “Splunk Partnerverse.”

In June of this year the company added to that with a new funded partner training benefit to help partners build solution competencies and drive enablement, a new online solutions catalog where partners can showcase their expertise and Splunk-based offerings, and partner access to the Splunk Cloud Sandbox for building and testing Splunk-based solutions.

O’Hara acknowledges that leaving Microsoft after so many years is a big move.

“I really wanted to be able to go and lead a company through next level of transformation and next level of growth,” she said.

A particular attraction was how Splunk partners “are mission critical to the business outcomes of our customers,” and “the diversity and scale of the Splunk ecosystem.”

“I think that I‘m coming home to what I love most, which is leading and driving challenging ecosystems.

I’m definitely a deep seasoned channel leader, leading and developing one of the largest channel ecosystems in the technology industry today,” she said.

“So I certainly bring that expertise. But I am also a business builder. I think about how and what is required for the future. And what‘s next."

"And really having that entrepreneurial spirit. Making the right moves at the right time to help our partners and the ecosystem continue to thrive and grow,” O'Hara said.

Both O’Hara and Smith noted that Splunk works with a broad range of partner types including global and regional systems integrators, solution providers and resellers, managed service providers and managed security service providers, cloud hyperscalers and technology partners.

“What I did at Microsoft was manage all partner types across all segments, large and small. So I have an extensive background in building out and driving transition to both cloud industry and solution capability,” O’Hara said of her experience.

“Gretchen has worked with all those different partner types and understands that you have to have different programs, different engagement, different enablement and different education,” Smith said.


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