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New Dell Channel Chief: Why Analysts, Partners Like the Choice

Partners and analysts weigh in on Dell's choice of Rola Dagher as channel chief.

Lynn Haber

August 19, 2020

6 Min Read
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Dell Technologies’ strategy for choosing Rola Dagher as global channel chief goes outside of the company’s [virtual] walls — sort of. In her two-decade-plus career, Dagher spent five years at Dell.

Prior to her current role as president, Cisco Systems Canada, where she’s served since June 2017, Dagher worked as vice president and general manager, infrastructure solutions group at Dell EMC for eight months. Before that, she was general manager, enterprise solutions Canada, and executive sales director at Dell for a combined four years. She worked at Bell Canada for 15 years. She follows in the footsteps of Joyce Mullen, who left the top channel spot at Dell in July.

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MNJ Technologies’ Diane Bierman

“We are sorry to see Joyce leave the position and appreciate all of the programs that MNJ was able to leverage for our growth,” Diane Bierman, vice president of strategic partnerships and sourcing at MNJ Technologies, a platinum Dell Technologies partner, told Channel Futures. “We are very excited to hear of Rola’s new role and look forward to hear of her priorities that will benefit MNJ’s growth goals.”

As Dell Technologies’ new global channel chief, Dagher will work closely with partners and lead the company’s global partner strategy and vision, enablement, program design and experience.

Canada Is Cheering

Canada-based Long View Systems, a Dell EMC platinum business and services partner, is also ready for change in channel leadership at Dell.

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Long View Systems’ Kent MacDonald

“I think Rola is a great choice, as she is returning to her roots with Dell and brings new perspective from her time at Cisco,” Kent MacDonald, senior vice president, strategic alliances at Long View, told Channel Futures. “Rola has always been a great supporter of the channel; thus, this bodes well for the Dell EMC channel.”

An interesting thing about Dagher’s time at Cisco — there, she worked for a company where more than 85% of revenue is partner driven. The figure at Dell hovers closer to the 50% mark.

MNJ’s Bierman is looking for experience in the channel and fresh ideas for growth.

“It is essential for MNJ to have strategic programs that align to our customer’s challenges where NMJ can continue to bring value to our customers,” she said.

Dell’s Deep Bench and Continuity

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Dell’s Rola Dagher

Dell has a deep bench of channel expertise at the company. So it wouldn’t have been surprising if you thought the new Dell channel chief would have been an internal pick. Mullen vacated the top channel slot in July. We also learned this week that Paul Shaffer, vice president of sales, global commercial channels at Dell EMC, is moving on. He had a long tenure with the company.

In fact, after the news about Mullen’s departure broke, Bill Scannell, president of global sales and customer operations, who led Dell’s search for its next channel leader, often referred to the company’s great bench of channel leadership as a good place to find the company’s next channel leader — but not exclusively.

And clearly, that’s not the way things went.

Cheryl Cook, senior vice president, global partner marketing, Dell Technologies, recently celebrated.her ninth year with the company.

On her Twitter page, Cook welcomed back Dagher to the company and Dell team. And she praised Dell’s commitment to women’s leadership.

View post on Twitter

“Cheryl Cook and other key leaders remain in place, giving continuity [to Dell’s channel team],” said Forrester principal analyst, channels, partnerships and alliances, Jay McBain. He also noted that Dagher’s five years inside the Dell culture don’t technically make her an outsider.

A fellow Canadian, McBain, is all in with Dagher.

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Forrester’s Jay McBain

“I think it is a fantastic move. Being a Canadian, I saw her career progress at Bell and then Dell before moving over to Cisco. Partners I have spoken to in the past find her responsive, decisive and motivational,” he told Channel Futures. “I also think it is great that she is staying in Toronto, which says the partner organization will be an external-facing entity and another example of the future of work post-COVID-19.”

So maybe it’s that deep bench of channel expertise that drove Dell to look outside of the company for a new channel chief.

“Dell does have a deep bench and several senior leaders who have been global channel leaders and are still at the company. For example, John Byrne, Cheryl Cook, Gregg Ambulos and Greg Davis,” Anurag Agrawal, chief global analyst at Techaisle, told Channel Futures.

Dell Technologies Strategy Heavy on Sales

Ambulos, North America channel lead, will continue in his role, and report into John Byrne. Byrne is president, North America sales.

Denise Millard will continue her role leading global alliances, reporting to Bill Scannell. Millard shifted to that role in April. The global alliances and channel teams will continue to work together to ensure synergies across all Dell partners.

This structure allows Dell to better support partners within the regions. It also promotes operational consistency and predictability with core sales teams, while maintaining a strong global presence. These leaders have been partner advocates for many years. They are committed to partners’ success, according to the company.

In its announcement on Monday, Dell also said channel sales are now aligned to North America and international sales leaders. They are Byrne and Aongus Hegarty, respectively. Dell also introduced a new International channel Lead, Diego Majdalani. He reports into Hegarty. Majdalani led sales for the Latin American region for the past seven years. He brings deep partner expertise and knowledge to the role.

“It’s definitely the right move to bring sales and channel teams closer together,” said MacDonald.

So it turns out to be less of a surprise that Dell brings in Dagher. Dell chooses someone with sales-oriented, business-unit experience to join the channel organization. In fact, while at Cisco, Dagher was responsible for overseeing all facets of Cisco Canada’s business. That included sales operations, engineering, services, finance and marketing. She is also responsible for establishing partnerships and meeting aggressive targets.

“Clearly, the focus is on channel sales, because it is aligned to sales leads, namely John Byrne and Aongus Hegarty. Even Diego Majdalani, the new international channel lead, comes from a sales background and is reporting to the international sales lead,” said Agrawal.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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