Top Gun 51 Profile: Cisco’s Gerri Elliott Embraces Change
Gerri Elliott was a key new Cisco hire in April 2018, for the first-ever executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer position. She’s a seasoned IT executive – Juniper, Microsoft and IBM – in addition to founding and leading Blacktara, a consultancy and provider of advisory services for technology companies, for three years. As a leader, she aspires to develop other women leaders through Broadrooms.com, a site devoted to executive women who serve or want to serve on corporate boards.
Most recently, Elliott became a Top Gun 51 award winner. She shared her thoughts about next generation channel leadership with Channel Futures.
Channel Futures: What are your strengths as a next generation channel leader at Cisco?
Gerri Elliott: First of all, it is an absolute honor to have been recognized as a Top Gun 51 award winner. Truly, this is a team award. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I can honestly say that the team at Cisco is the best I’ve ever worked with in my career. Our partner ecosystem is also a big part of that. So, I share this award with my team and our amazing partners.
I would say that the biggest strength that a channel leader – or any leader for that matter – must have in today’s dynamic environment is their ability to embrace change. I would submit that we are going to see more change over the next five years than we saw over the last 50. So, leaders must be able to articulate the evolution of our customers’ expectations and the digital transformation we’re facing, inspire your teams to walk toward the disruption, and celebrate the milestones along the way — that is how we will all win.
|We recently unveiled our “Top Gun 51,” a list of today’s channel executives who deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.|
CF: Cisco isn’t new to having a channel organization, and a traditional channel partner model/framework. But that’s changing as Cisco undergoes its own huge business transformation. What must to be done, and what are you doing, to keep the channel front and center internally at Cisco, to help partners transform as Cisco transforms?
GE: Cisco is undergoing a huge business transformation because our customers’ expectations and needs have shifted. It’s not just about us, and what has always been the strongest tie between Cisco and our incredible partner community is our passion for serving our customers. This hasn’t changed, and neither will the importance of our partners in our go-to-market strategy. We are on this journey with our partners and are committed to enabling them – no matter where they are in their own journey – as we both approach new opportunities.
CF: You’ve been a business leader for a few decades. What are the qualities of a next-generation channel leader — for those aspiring to leadership in the channel?
GE: A few decades? Actually, more than four decades! What I think will be the secret – or not-so-secret – sauce for a next-generation leader is to constantly find ways to bring fresh ideas and different perspectives to each conversation, and I believe you can only do that by prioritizing full-spectrum diversity. When I say full-spectrum diversity, I mean gender, race, orientation, age, experience, and everything else that makes a person unique. The ability to …