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Play Big: XChange Solution Provider 2015

March 5, 2015 - 1 Comment

This week I had the privilege of joining my Cisco colleagues and more than 225 partners at the XChange Solution Provider event hosted by the Channel Company in Dallas, Texas.  I arrived on Sunday to colder weather (and snow!) than I would have liked coming from Portland, Oregon, but I soon forgot all about that once in the comfort and setting of the Gaylord Texan resort.

I was joined by my Cisco colleagues Raja Sundaram (@rajasundaram), Steve Benvenuto (@yobenvo), Bridget Bisnette (@bbisnette), Robb Berger, and Ashley McCann (@ashleymccann). Key themes for the two and a half day conference included convergence, cloud, security, and partner marketing.

Opening_Ceremony_XChangeThe general session  kicked off with a lot of energy and momentum thanks to Steve McClatchy, best-selling author and consultant.  From a family of 12 kids (he was #11), Steve used personal anecdotes to make us laugh and encouraged us all to go after our dreams and goals. His motto is “make gain, not pain.”  In other words, make time for things that add to your life (gain) instead of spending all your energy on the “have to” lists (pain). So if you want to build that custom speedboat, as Cisco partner Kyle Vinar of Verus Corporation told me was his dream, then do it! His advice in a nutshell: schedule it, defend it, and play catch up with the maintenance of life.

The Channel Company kept all of us attendees moving from session to session and involved with a diversity of topics and mix of general keynotes, breakout sessions, case studies, receptions, and a solutions pavilion.

WomenoftheChannel_XChangeI especially enjoyed the Women of the Channel breakout, on day two of the event, with a panel of women executives moderated by Lisa Marie Jenkins, former channel executive (including at Cisco) turned author and executive coach. The panel included Shannon Sbar, VP of Channels at APC for Schneider Electric; Jessica Yeck, VP of Sales for HP Solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions; and Gwen Milligan, Senior Director of Strategic Partner Initiatives for Oracle. They talked about their career journey in the often male-dominated world of the channel. The women encouraged us to “play big” by aligning our strengths with our passions. To take risks and be bold, while also asking for the support of mentors and executive sponsors within your organization.

Other session highlights included Don Yeager, former associate editor for Sports Illustrated, author and speaker. He shared lessons on achieving greatness, learned from first-hand experiences from some of the greatest legends in sports legends. CEO of the Channel Company Bob Faletra moderated a panel with Cisco partner Jed Ayers, CMO with MCPC Direct and others focused on marketing strategies in the midst of market transitions.

The real value of XChange, however, comes from face-to-face meetings and networking with partners. I ran into Mont Phelps, CEO of NWN Corporation and Noble Proctor, Business Development Manager at Synetra while walking around the solutions pavilion. We also had the pleasure of hosting several partners such as George Pashardi, Regional VP with ePlus; Manak Ahluwalia, President of Aqueduct Technologies; and Michael Lomonaco, Director of Marketing with Open Systems Technologies at the Cisco-sponsored Channel Champion Awards reception that closed out the event on Tuesday evening.

Speaking of awards! This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Channel Champion awards, and we were incredibly honored to receive five awards:

  • XChange_Awards_Team_CropA Sweep in Collaboration
  • A Sweep in Converged Infrastructure
  • A Sweep in Network Security Appliances
  • Overall Win: Enterprise Networking Infrastructure {Won in Technical and Support Satisfaction}*
  • Overall Win: Networking Hardware (SMB) {Won in Technical and Support Satisfaction}*

We take great pride in winning these awards, because they’re based on scores provided by you, – 6,000 solution providers strong – about criteria crucial to a successful partnership.  Thank you!

We look forward to seeing many of you at Cisco’s annual Partner Summit, this year together with Marketing Velocity, at the end of April. But until we meet up again– perhaps at the XChange conference in August at the Gaylord National in DC – be well and prosper.

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  1. Thanks so much for the gracious compliments and photo from the women's panel at XSP15.