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'Everybody Was Surprised': 6 Partners React to Rodney Clark Becoming Microsoft's New Channel Chief

Clark replaced Gavriella Schuster, who was very popular in Microsoft’s partner community.

Jeffrey Schwartz

April 8, 2021

6 Slides

Partners were caught off guard last week when Rodney Clark replaced Gavriella Schuster as Microsoft’s global channel chief. Schuster was the face of Microsoft’s partner organization for five years, and the unexpected change surprised many partners.

“Everybody was surprised,” said Titu Sarder, president and CEO of MReady 365, a Microsoft Dynamics partner.

Sarder spoke with numerous International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) members after the news broke.

“Among the people that I spoke to, everybody was shocked,” Sarder added. “It was unexpected because [Microsoft] Inspire [partner conference] preparations are going on. And now, obviously, we have to rebuild this trust structure with a new channel chief.”

Indeed, partners who felt they had an ally in Schuster now wonder what to expect from Clark. In a comment on Schuster’s LinkedIn post announcing the transition, Clark indicated partner growth is his key priority.

“I couldn’t be more excited to take on this new role and continue my passion for driving growth, innovation and success with our partners, and contribute to the next evolution of growth,” Clark noted.

Still, many partners said they know little about Clark. Partners who do know him believe he is well-suited for the job. Among them is Joseph Landes, who worked at Microsoft for 23 years and is now channel chief at Nerdio. Landes said he has known Clark since joining Microsoft in the late 1990s.

“I think he’s going to do super well with the partner ecosystem,” Landes said. “They’re really going to like him. He is going to bring a lot of innovative thinking, just as he brought to his previous role when he was corporate VP of IoT.”

A Longer-than-Average Run

After the initial surprise, many said that five years is a long run for a channel chief. The average tenure is 4.2 years, according to Forrester Research analyst Jay McBain. Nevertheless, as channel chief, Schuster was very popular among the company’s partners.

gavriella-schuster-microsoft.jpg

Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster

In addition to his longstanding ties with Clark, Landes said he also has worked closely with Schuster.

“Gavriella is an extraordinary human being,” Landes said. “I think she is not only a great businesswoman, but she really cares much more than the average person would recognize. Her investment of time in super-important diversity and inclusion topics – especially women in technology, women in cloud – is something I know she’s incredibly passionate about. And she has a lot more to give than she probably had time for doing this role.”

Many partners and colleagues shared their thoughts about the arrival of Clark and departure of Schuster as Microsoft channel chief. See what various partners had to say in the slideshow above.

 

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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