HPE Channel Chief: ‘Some of Our Best Stuff’ Has Come from Partners
The churn at the top of HPE’s channel organization has been robust, with three channel chiefs in three years — beginning with Kerry Bailey in November 2015, Denzil Samuels in 2017 and Paul Hunter that same year. As the current worldwide partner sales leader, Hunter just set a record, having been in the job for 19 months.
A 17-year veteran with the company, Hunter stepped into the channel leadership role the same month that Meg Whitman, CEO at HPE, announced she’s stepping down from hers. He also served as chief of staff to Whitman for five years, giving him a ringside seat to the maturations of the company through its breakup into two separate entities — HP Inc. and HPE.
Now, Hunter is setting a very different course for HPE partners as he works alongside Antonio Neri, CEO, who took the reins from Whitman. Channel Futures caught up with Hunter at HPE Global Partner Summit (GPS)/Discover 2019 in Las Vegas, to talk about how he’s setting into his job and what’s in store for HPE partners.
Channel Futures: Give us some perspective on your time as HPE’s channel leader, as you approach two years on the job.
Paul Hunter: As I said at GPS – and this is our second GPS not our 31st – HPE is a new company. We set out on Nov. 1, 2017, as a new company with the shackles taken off. The thesis of the separation is that we have to become faster, more nimble, and more special[ized] in order to defeat and compete, take share from competitors, and deliver on that.
We got a lot done in the first year – announced and launched a new partner program, offered a new partner offer for consumption [GreenLake] – and those were big undertakings. But, in the year since, we’ve doubled the amount that we’ve gotten done.
We’re obsessed with the speed at which we get things done. I would say there’s a lot of evidence to support that we’re getting faster. We’re pumping stuff out, such as iterations in our programs, ways we want to collaborate, tools, every dimension of the partner experience; we’re working at a pace with a fair degree of intensity to make sure that we stay ahead of the competition. That is both exciting and demanding. Through becoming more specialized and more agile, it means that what we’re able to do is set up lots of little test cases — we work with a sales leader in a country, they may have an idea, we’ll support it, we’ll collaborate to bring it to life, and if it works, we release it globally. And if it doesn’t, we do something different.
CF: Is this “test case” philosophy/strategy new at HPE?
PH: Yes. It started with the partner GreenLake proposition. We didn’t design that on our own; we designed that with our partners — about six to 10 partners who worked on it with us for four months. We call it GreenLake 3.0 because the first two didn’t work. What we did differently the third time was work with the partners on the design of the proposition. It takes an attitude and personality to want to collaborate and trust. Having done that, we are increasingly doing that.
Some of the most valued aspects of this event is that I have more than 20 one-on-one meetings with partners – outside of all the other events – and for each one, my objective is to find an experiment that we can do [together]. What chance is there that we align to what our partners want to do? That can be a market, or part of our portfolio that has the principle of being scalable — and that we can do quickly. There are a few …