Partners will invest in your business if you give them a fair and profitable path to do so.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

July 30, 2020

4 Min Read
Top Gun 51 Logo

Kathleen Curry is steadfastly focused on making sure McAfee channel partners know how their hard work leads to successful business results.

Curry joined McAfee as its senior vice president of global enterprise channels, OEM and strategic alliances in April.  The former Apple sales executive has advocated for the channel in all of her positions.

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McAfee’s Kathleen Curry

Since joining McAfee, she’s been questioning at every turn how to improve McAfee channel partners’ profit, engagement and support in the field. She is a channel-first leader who ensures her partners are top of mind across the organization and in the C-suite. So say those who nominated her — the distributors, master agents and industry analysts we polled to compile the prestigious Channel Partners/Channel Futures Top Gun 51.

Introduced last year, the Top Gun 51 recognizes premier leaders in the indirect IT and telecom channel. Our nomination panel considered three criteria in recommending this year’s group: advocacy for the channel; commitment to partners’ business success; and dedication to earning the channel’s trust.

In a Q&A with Channel Futures, Curry talks about what drew her to the channel and what McAfee channel partners can expect in the months ahead.

Channel Futures: How did you first become involved in the channel? Was it part of your overall career plan?

Kathleen Curry: I was attracted to sales very early in my career, starting at Oracle. While I enjoyed direct sales, I found that I really excelled at building partner relationships, connecting people and aligning business strategies. I found great fulfillment in finding win-win opportunities between us, the partner and our customers — so much so that I dedicated my career to it.

McAfee’s Kathleen Curry is part of Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ 2020 Top Gun 51. This program recognizes today’s channel executives who build and execute channel programs that drive partner, customer and supplier success. See the full list.

CF: Have you been responsible for building channel programs from the ground up? If so, how did your experience come into play in these processes?

KC: I have been a part of reimagining and restructuring partner programs a few times in my career. When I was leading Americas channels at Symbol Technologies, we were acquired by Motorola. We both had robust channel programs, but very different go-to-market approaches. I was part of the integration team to build a new, joint program that protected and rewarded unique technical skills, as well as market presence and investment. We effectively addressed bringing together Symbol’s open channel approach with Motorola’s closed channel approach. It not only helped maintain current business trajectory, it bolstered it. Similarly at NCR, we acquired a company with a closed channel and deep market presence in a new vertical. With a very similar approach to my previous experience, we launched a new program that effectively addressed and embraced all partner communities.

I’ve been a part of rolling out many big and small program changes in my career. The hard part is making sure you’ve thought through all the potential areas of impact to the partner community, across all types of partners and in every region. You cannot think hard enough about this. When you think you’re done, go back and review again. Review it with partners themselves and be open to making changes. While programs are meant to increase business trajectory, they don’t always have the same positive impact for every partner. It is important that the partner community believes you’ve fairly considered all aspects of program decision impacts. While not intended, a partner will …

… accept changes even if there is no benefit to them.

CF: What have you learned most from your experience with the channel and partners?

KC: Channels managed and supported correctly will deliver an incremental lift to your business, period. It requires investment and nurturing, just like any route to market. Partners will invest in your business if you give them a fair and profitable path to do so. And their customer relationships are strong, arguably stronger than the vendor’s in many cases.

CF: What are the components of a successful channel program? Are there things that used to work, but now don’t?

KC: A successful channel program has an equitable balance between benefits and requirements. Easy to implement, agile profitability programs work well. Heavy requirements without clear business impact are less effective.

CF: What do you consider your biggest accomplishments in working with the channel?

KC: Achieving exponential results is always fulfilling. I can think of so many great wins throughout the years; it’s just too difficult to name a single one.

CF: What are your career goals going forward?

KC: I am focused on developing and growing the McAfee channel business. That is what’s in store for the immediate future.

CF: What sort of advice would you give someone who is just starting out in channel leadership?

KC: Do the right thing. Do the right thing for your company, your people and your partners. Never sacrifice your integrity and emulate this high standard for your team.

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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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