Gigamon's new channel chief recently led Riverbed Technology's global channel strategy and programs.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

April 4, 2018

6 Min Read
Flexing Muscles

**Editor’s Note: Click here to see which channel people were on the move in March.**

Gigamon‘s new channel chief says no big changes are needed in the company’s partner program, but various enhancements could make it even more effective and beneficial to partners.

Michelle Hodges has joined the network traffic visibility and security company as its vice president of worldwide partner sales. In this role, she will be responsible for evolving the partner program by deepening relationships with existing VARs and distributors, building the security capabilities of its channel and adding new partner segments to support the company’s next phase of growth.

Hodges will report to Burney Barker, Gigamon’s senior vice president of worldwide sales.


Gigamon’s Michelle Hodges

“We are thrilled to have Michelle join Gigamon to lead the next phase of our partner sales efforts,” Barker said. “Her background helping leading technology vendors design, build and manage partner and alliances sales teams and programs around the world makes her an ideal fit for Gigamon. As we work to bring together the historically separate worlds of networking and security operations, having partners who can bridge that divide is imperative. Under her leadership, we have an opportunity to grow our relationships with world-class partners to help customers increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their security stack, whether in cloud, virtual or on-premises environments.”

Hodges most recently led Riverbed Technology‘s global channel strategy, programs, communications and enablement, leading to bookings growth through focused partners. Prior to Riverbed, she led global channels and alliances at Apptio, a provider of business management systems for hybrid IT. Throughout her career, she has held senior channel positions at leading technology companies such as Microsoft, SAP and VMware.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Hodges talks about what partners can expect from her, and how she plans to do improve Gigamon’s channel strategy and partner program.

Channel Partners: Why did you want take this role?

Michelle Hodges: When I’ve looked for new opportunities, I have something I call the three Ps: people, product and partner opportunity. From the people perspective, I have partnered with Gigamon a couple of times in the past and found the people to be just great, transparent and truly interested, and as I went through the interview process I found that that is just who they are. No politics and a great, innovative place to be. So that really just struck me as I went through that process. In terms of product, I think we all know it’s great technology, with existing and growing market leadership in the net-ops space, but this momentum and phenomenal opportunity moving into the security space, there’s such a great opportunity for the partners. [That] leads me to the partners; It’s a channel-led business, really committed to the channel with 96 percent of the business running through the channel, a very sticky opportunity for the channel in that something like 60 percent of customers come back for more technology, and there is up to seven times the opportunity for …

… more licenses and services for the channel on that repeat customer base. Just a great opportunity for the channel to continue to grow their businesses, for our existing, net-op type channel to grow into the security space, or for other, security focused partners to grow their networking businesses.

CP: What do you want partners to know about you and what you’re like to work with?

MH: I think partners that know me know that I am execution-focused, and really focused on joint value and performance. Where we meet in the market and in the opportunity, it will drive as much joint value and performance for both the vendor and the channel. I have a high focus on increasing opportunity around the channel solutions and services, leveraging our technology. And I like a great bottle of wine!

CP: How will your prior experiences with Riverbed and other companies come into play in this new role?

MH: At Riverbed, I had this wonderful opportunity to help them through the current channel transition, focusing on program, strategy and enablement, and really build out that operational aspect of what has been to date a very successful channel sales career — with a big focus on building solutions and services for that channel, driving and accelerating sales opportunities through solutions and services. So I think that mix of operational focus of what makes a channel tick and helping them be successful, along with my experience in driving joint value and performance in the field — and the opportunity will ensure success for all, I hope.

CP: What is your initial take on Gigamon’s channel strategy and partner program?

MH: The partner program is foundationally sound. There were some great additions in 2017 to the program. Marketing has really put their money where their mouth is, with doubling their MDF investment last quarter. Operationally, the things like order management and the portal, everything’s foundationally pretty strong. There’s a great opportunity to drive evolution in the program to help differentiate around the partners who are really … with us around success. So partners who are bringing the opportunities to the table, we want to make sure that we’re sharing opportunity with them. Partners that are building solutions and services, we want to make sure that they’re properly incented for that. So I think the channel can look toward not to big channel changes, but really additions, incremental changes and evolutions to help reward them where they’re driving value and performance.

CP: Are there new challenges associated with this new position that are a departure from what you were doing with Riverbed and other companies?

MH: I don’t know if I think there [are] new challenges based on what I’ve done in the past. I think where we are in time and space in the industry, and how customers are acquiring technology creates its own challenge for …

… the channel and for vendors like Gigamon to recognize value from the channel. So helping the company and the channel recognize the value in driving that customer-buying decision above and beyond fulfillment is a challenge, and an opportunity for us to be successful here at Gigamon. Really getting deep into our customers’ buying behaviors, how they make decisions, and where we need to leverage and incent the channel to perform, and defining that for both parties is going to be the near-term challenge and opportunity.

CP: What’s on your to-do list in terms of day-to-day activities to prepare for this role?

MH: I’ll be spending the next couple of weeks getting to know my team. I’ll spend some time at RSA … to meet and greet many of the partners that are there, start reconnecting relationships and building new relationships. And then as we move into late April and May, you’ll see me in the field in both in North America and globally. I’ll probably spend the better part of May in Europe and Asia, just sitting down and talking with partners, and learning what’s going great. Before we try to create anything new or break anything, I’m just so pleasantly surprised at how strong the foundation is and how strong the existing channel strategy is, so it’s what are we doing great and how can we execute on that plan and do more?

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

MH: I’d love to see significant and incremental revenue opportunity for both Gigamon and the channel, for our really valued and dedicated channel partners.

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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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