Channel Influencer Spotlight: TPx Communications’ Hilary Gadda
**Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series featuring the first-ever honorees of the Channel Partners/Channel Futures Channel Influencer Awards. Read our profile of Comcast Business’ Craig Schlagbaum here and Forrester’s Jay McBain here.
Hilary Gadda spent a considerable amount of the time at the recent Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas accepting awards. Gadda, who is director of national channel development for the managed service provider TPx Communications, was not only honored as a member of the premier class of Channel Influencer Award winners, but was also named to Channel Partners’ Circle of Excellence for leadership, vision and innovation.
To what does she attribute her success? Short answer: endurance, enthusiasm and empowerment.
Endurance: Gadda has been in the indirect channel for 26 years, the last 16 with TPx (formerly TelePacific). As the director of partner programs for TelePacific, she helped the channel achieve triple-digit growth. In 2016, TelePacific acquired DSCI, and the two regional companies – TelePacific on the West Coast and in Texas, and DSCI on the East Coast – combined and rebranded as TPx, with a national footprint, its coast-to-coast expansion being driven by a channel-first strategy. In the fall of 2017, Gadda was promoted to the newly created role of director of national channel development, responsible for broadening TPx’s relationships with national and regional master agencies, with a focus on strengthening and supporting their marketing initiatives, agent recruitment, on-boarding and training programs.
For Gadda, her longevity in the channel is all about fostering relationships. It’s what attracted her to channel work in the first place.
“I love being able to build a relationship for a very long time, to sustain it and develop it,” she said. “There are ebbs and flows, good days and bad, but you keep working and growing it.”
Over the years, Gadda says, her peers in the channel have become like an extended family. And, just as with any family, there are challenges.
“You meet a lot of people in the channel that are transient, and then you meet a lot of people that are really in there to do a good job, love their companies, love their technology and just want to make it a better place.”
Enthusiasm: Gadda unequivocally loves what she does. Even during her first days in the channel, when she was making calls on stubborn prospects, a task that sounds miserable to most people, she found it to be “a lot of fun and a good challenge.”
“Everyone else hated it, and I just loved it,” Gadda said. “I loved to be able to turn somebody’s perception around. I loved the whole process of cold calling with partners and getting them excited — even going out on the street with them and knocking on doors to get appointments.”
Today, Gadda gets excited about the ongoing changes and challenges taking place in technology and the opportunities they represent for the channel.
“Channel partners are in the catbird seat when it comes to selling technology solutions,” she said. “Customer environments are so complex that they require guidance to evaluate various technology options and integrate them into a comprehensive solution. I’m not saying it’s an easy job, but it’s certainly one with lots of opportunity today, that will continue to grow.
“I don’t build anything, I don’t code and I’m never the smartest person in the room, but I am sincere and genuine in my love for what I do and who I work with. And I do get excited about technology. I almost nerd out a little. I’m not deep enough into how it’s built to get super nerdy, but I get an adrenaline rush from doing what I do.
“I’m happy when I start my day, and I’m happy – most of the time – when I end it. There’s just so much going on. Every day is a new challenge, and how can that not be great?”
Empowerment: Gadda is known for her dedication to mentoring and empowering others. Her LinkedIn page states, “I help channel partners think big, start smart and scale fast.” For her, it’s a matter of paying forward the support and encouragement she’s received during her career.
“I have had the good fortune to work with several people who encouraged me,” Gadda said. “At TPx, Ken Bisnoff and Dick Jalkut have given me tremendous opportunity to not only work for them and to fulfill what my role is within that organization, but also to be able to do things like Women in the Channel [Gadda was a founding member and served as its president in 2017] and be able to participate in CompTIA’s councils and advisories. [She served on CompTIA’s Advancing Women in IT (AWIT) Executive Council and its Vendor Advisory Council and is currently a member of its Future Leaders Community Executive Council.] I think they’ve provided me with really great leadership that’s been inspiring as well as supportive. I would say that for the past 15-plus years, those two gentlemen have been exceptional role models and mentors for me.”
It was through the Women in the Channel that Gadda met another one of her mentors, Nancy Ridge, executive vice president of Telecom Brokers.
“Nancy had been a partner with TelePacific and TPx for years, but we didn’t work together,” said Gadda. “So I knew her casually, just from events and gatherings, and we would say ‘hi’ at Channel Partners. But once the conversation started about Women in the Channel, she and Bita Milanian [senior vice president of global marketing at Ribbon Communications] and I got together and decided, ‘Well, we’ve got to make this happen. It can’t just be a conversation that’s left at Channel Partners.’ And the three of us worked together almost every day for about two years just getting Women in the Channel off the ground.”
The “conversation” was about the dearth of women in high-profile channel positions.
“When we looked around the room, we would see all of these fantastic, smart women and ask, ‘Why are they not being represented on panels and as channel chiefs and as VPs and leaders?” said Gadda. “We said, ‘Enough is enough. They’re not being represented and we need to make a change.’
“And with the help, support and sponsorship of Channel Partners we were able to do that. Channel Partners gave us our very first platform, in Las Vegas, and it started the ball rolling. Increasingly, we saw invitations to be panelists and moderators, then leaders and speakers, and now keynoters. These things weren’t happening back in 2010. It’s been a fabulous journey.”
It was over the course of that journey that Ridge mentored Gadda. Or as Gadda puts it, “She pushed me. She pushed me hard and made me go outside of my comfort zone so many times, because she saw things in me that I did not see or believe.”
In March, Women in the Channel rebranded as Alliance of Channel Women. The move marks the group’s progression from a grassroots organization to a collaborative association of women working together to empower and advance women’s careers and leadership roles in the technology channel through education, community, advocacy and opportunities for personal growth.
“It’s the next stage for this group,” said Gadda. “There’s new leadership, there will always be growth. An alliance is more powerful. We’ve taken out the grassroots topics that we had on our original website that talks about a small group. We’re poised for the next generation to really take it places we haven’t been yet.”
And Gadda herself intends to continue to learn, expand and go new places in the channel.
“The best piece of advice I ever got was to take advantage of every bit of education that is offered to you, in whatever form that comes in,” she said. “Always take advantage of things that are offered to you to grow. Read every book that is recommended. Take every class. Go on every webinar that somebody’s put time and effort into.
“It’s amazing what you can learn if you just invest in yourself.”