Check Point has combined its North America and South America channels.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

September 3, 2019

9 Min Read
Hired, promoted

Check Point Software Technologies‘ new Americas channel chief hopes a year from now partners are amazed at how much easier it is for them to work with the cybersecurity vendor.

The company hired Abigail Maines, previously Cylance‘s vice president of business development, to fill the newly created role of head of channel sales for the Americas. She also held executive roles with Absolute Software, HiWired and Dell.

Last month, Check Point appointed Chris Scanlan to president of Americas sales, responsible for overall sales operations in North and Latin America, as well as North America sales engineering activities and Check Point’s U.S. global accounts.

North and South America previously were handled as two separate regions, but now are being combined. Maines will be responsible for channel in both regions.


Check Point’s Abigail Maines

Check Point will roll out enhancements to its Engage global partner program early next year.

Maines will begin her new role next week. In a Q&A with Channel Futures, she talks about why she wanted to join Check Point and what’s on her to-do list as it pertains to partners.

Channel Futures: Why did you want to take this role with Check Point?

Abigail Maines: No. 1 for me is really the people and the team. I felt like everybody was very focused on sort of the similar things that I’m focused on, which is obviously growth, but with a lot of accountability, a willingness to invest and … a tremendous amount of alignment around the strategy for growth. And personally I think success in a new role at a new company is very dependent on your alignment with the rest of the leadership team.

From a technology perspective, I’m coming from a company that is five or six years old total and Check Point has been in business 25 years, and always has been at the bleeding edge from a technology perspective. I was very impressed to understand that Check Point has two times the amount of developers of any of their competitors, which to me from a go-to-market leader perspective is very compelling.

And then third is the opportunity. The plan is to really engage or drive an enhanced channel strategy, particularly in the Americas, so the opportunity for me to play a key role in that along with the Americas channel team definitely contributed to why Check Point.

CF: What will be your responsibilities in this new role?

AM: My understanding is North and South America were separate; I believe that was true for the sales organization as well. Chris [Scanlan] has the exact same geographic scope as I will have, which is the channel for the Americas, and fundamentally my responsibilities are to lead that channel sales team across the region, building out all the partner relationships across the Americas region, and then develop and execute crossfunctionally to drive Check Point financial goals within the partner community. My role is to execute against that (Engage) program, help partners execute for success in that program. We’re very committed to really accelerating the ability of our partners to win early and often, and that’s what I see as my team and my role across the Americas.

CF: What’s your take on Check Point’s current channel strategy? Are changes needed?

AM: [Head of worldwide channel sales] Frank Rauch has been driving this 20- to 20-plus person-strong crossfunctional team to develop what he calls …

… enhancements, and I think a lot of everything he’s doing is going to be incredibly effective. The program started this past April with the full rollout in 2020, so what I’m excited to be doing is joining right in time to be able to prioritize those plays for the Americas in 2020. I think Frank’s mandate of the global playbook with multiple different levers to pull, I want to be able to get in there and sort of pull the ones that my team and I think will be the most effective for the United States, and really in terms of how do I prioritize what’s key. I want to focus on anything that really drives the results that we’re looking for in the Americas, which is predictability of our business, from both a financial and an execution standpoint, accountability [and] enhanced communications to the partner community so they know what to expect. Mutual-expectation setting is really important so people understand what success looks like whether we’re talking about the next 30 days, the next 90 days or the next year, and then ultimately clearly we would only be driving the initiatives or pulling the lever so to speak that would drive our financial achievement.

In terms of where do I think the partner program needs to change, I think I want to reserve specific judgment on that until I’ve joined and spent a few weeks with the team listening both to my own team as well as to the partner community about any specific tweaks.

CF: What’s first on your to-do list in terms of working with partners and Check Point’s partner program?

AM: The first 30 days are going to be really focused on establishing a baseline of understanding both from my team and the partners, and I think that’s really important because often people come in with sort of a certain set of assumptions. I clearly have a set of assumptions from my experience at Cylance and my experience at Absolute Software, but I want to keep an incredibly open mind, and let my team and the partners share with me not just where we’re at today, but where they want to go, and based on that baseline we’ll prioritize the Americas investments across the Engage program. We will then communicate all of the plays specifically to each partner with joint expectation setting and a clear definition of success. So I expect there to be a few core initiatives that will come out of those first 30 days by partner and/or partner type, but at the end of the day, my goal in the first 90 days is to really create momentum in the partner community through my team, with Chris’ help and Frank’s help to really drive an exciting rollout to this new program that we’re launching in the early part of 2020.

CF: What are the biggest issues facing Check Point and its partners, and how will you address them?

AM: My role in addressing them is I have to take those issues away. At the end of the day, the buck stops with me as it relates to particularly partner relationships and engagement with Check Point. And I have some opinions on … what the biggest issues are, but I wouldn’t want to represent that I have all of those answers at this point in time. I really want to stay true in terms of …

… spending my first 30 days listening to both my team and the partners. I have heard from some folks both within Check Point and outside that there’s a huge opportunity to sort of re-engage and really to drive that momentum within the partner community in the Americas because it’s possible certain partners might be feeling a little disenfranchised due to some historic ways we were handling the partner community. But again, at this point in time my goal would be if that’s the case to work with Chris and Frank to really resolve those issues.

CF: How will your experience with Cylance come into play in this new role?

AM: No. 1, from an industry perspective, I’m coming out of the security industry and the endpoint security industry, which is an incredibly competitive industry. It’s also an industry that Cylance sort of led with a prevention marketing message, which I believe is very similar to what we’re trying to drive here from the Infinity platform perspective. I think my experience in the security space will be very complementary to this role at Check Point. Because endpoint is so competitive … I do have quite a specific and targeted playbook for how do you deal with competition … as it relates to competitive displacement and positioning that I think I will bring from Cylance to Check Point.

Secondly, and I think this is a significant competitive advantage for Check Point in the Americas, is Chris and I are close friends, we’re very collaborative, we have a lot of shared DNA, so we are both incredibly pragmatic and we’re unique in the security space in that we are very much business leaders first, and because of that, I think we make joint decisions very well, and I think that will speed our ability to optimize execution in the Americas.

And third, I did not run channel at Cylance; I ran our OEM business [and] one of the things that was sort of a benefit for me not running it is there are a lot of things that I learned not to do, how to do a little bit better and some really great things. So not running the channel at Cylance almost gave me this interesting vantage point where I could see the plays that they were running again in the security space in a very competitive environment. And really during a time of tremendous growth and then maybe flattening growth, and can take pieces from that in terms of what I would do and what I wouldn’t do.

CF: What do you hope to have accomplished a year from now?

AM: In terms of what would I say success would look like, in terms of the qualitative measures, I really want Check Point to …

… be the vendor that partners say, “I can’t believe how much easier it is to work with today than it was a year ago, I can’t believe how much reduction in friction we’ve had with everything, from sales operations to field engagement, to customer enablement.” I also would love all partners to say, “When I’m thinking about network security, the first vendor I go to is Check Point, period, whether I’m talking about a customer event, a marketing event, whether I’m talking about running promotions, running bundles, really strategically aligning with a network security vendor,” I want partners to choose Check Point.

If we aren’t that today with a certain partner, then we have to get there. And that has to be something that is consistent, that will be driven by consistent execution, doing what we say we’re going to do, making the appropriate investments and really being incredibly responsive to the partners across the board, not just within my organization, but within Chris’ organization and the Americas.

And then finally in a year I hope my channel team in the Americas is full of promotions and everybody is operating at a high level, and we’re all having a great time.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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