Top Gun 51 Profile: HPE’s Paul Hunter Embraces a Healthy Pace for Change
You might think that being a 17-year veteran at HPE would give Paul Hunter, the vendor’s global channel chief, a major leg up on the role he’s been in for almost two years. Not really.
That’s because Hunter stepped into the channel chief role just as CEO Meg Whitman was stepping down and new CEO Antonio Neri took the helm at what Hunter sees as a new HPE beginning on Nov. 1, 2017. With that new beginning, he also charted a new course for HPE’s partner organization.
In fact, Hunter was nominated as a Top Gun 51 award recipient for revamping the partner go-to-market strategy by focusing on partner intimacy, partner experience and partner empathy. In a tough competitive landscape, HPE must continue to maintain loyalty and deliver solutions for customer. Hunter has set his organization on a course that should help partners and customers transform in the as-a-service era.
Hunter shared his thoughts with Channel Futures about being a next gen channel chief.
Channel Futures: What attributes do you think next gen channel leaders must have?
Paul Hunter: I think there are quite a few attributes for the leaders of our partner sales organization. I think it’s good to have a healthy connection with our customers, so having had experience selling in the company you’re representing is very helpful because it gives you perspective on what it’s like for our partners — a view on where and how partners add value in a variety of ways. I also think that being rooted in the customer gives a great sense of the challenges that exist and the complexities of certain customers, which are rapidly evolving from how it was 20 years ago.
It’s also necessary to have some fortitude and judgment because not everything that partners want us to do is necessarily the right thing for us to do. If you did everything that partners want you to do, across the whole partner base, you’d end up fragmented and doing too many things without depth. I find it helpful to focus on doing a few things and doing those few things really well so. Partners are very different – in scale, in expertise, in geography, in specializations – so, forming a point of view about what to do with whom, where and what’s the priority, is very important. There’s never a day when we think our job is done.
A third attribute is having a curiosity and thirst for wanting to hear how we can be better and do better. I like to think that we’re a humble company and with that humility comes the curiosity in wanting to understand how we can be better. We continue to strive to be a better company and to be a better partner to our partners. I like to think of it has striking a balance between humility and confidence. We want our partners to invest in us. We want our partners to believe that we’re going to win in the long-term — we believe that. They’re trusting their investments and business to vendors like us.
CF: Describe how as a channel leader you use your knowledge and experience to set a course for your partners.
PH: As a leader for the partner business, I know that we need go together — our own organization and with our partners. I think we’re a little bit like a fly fisherman trying to put the bait at a distance that’s close enough to the partner and our internal teams so that they want to follow us, but not so far away that they’re disinterested, particularly how it relates to our as-a-service leadership.
There are two things required to do that — the first thing, we’ve been in the as-a-service and consumption market for eight years now and we’re iterating on it. And, let’s face it, the first two iterations of that program weren’t …