April 25, 2023
ARUBA ATMOSPHERE — Donna Grothjan, the leader of HPE Aruba‘s partner community and a giant in the IT channel, is concluding her career.
HPE-owned Aruba on Tuesday made the announcement at its annual Atmosphere conference that Grothjan is stepping down. She served for seven years as vice president of worldwide channels at HPE Aruba Networking. That role put her in charge of Aruba’s strategy, sales, programs and enablement with regard to partners. She has worked at Aruba’s parent company HPE since 2013, before HPE acquired Aruba in 2015. Grothjan had overseen HPE’s worldwide distribution strategy and sales for enterprise.
She has worked in indirect channel sales for 33 years.
Aruba has not named Grothjan’s successor. Alain Carpentier, head of worldwide sales for HPE Aruba Networking, said the company will name a “fitting” replacement in the coming months.
Aruba’s Donna Grothjan
“That individual will build upon Donna’s legacy of commitment to our partners by developing and evolving our channel programs with a laser focus on supplying the comprehensive tools and support our partners need for success,” he said.
Carpentier said Grothjan built a reputation for problem-solving and collaboration “superpowers.”
“Donna has long been recognized by her peers for the ability to successfully close gaps and reach consensus. She has always worked to ensure that a result is not only a win-win for all involved, but also that everyone feels heard,” Carpentier wrote in a blog. “This is because Donna’s philosophy has placed partners at the heart of her efforts to serve customers. She believes partners are essential to a vendor’s success, as no single company can meet 100% of its customers’ needs.
Aruba’s Alain Carpentier
Carpentier also said Grothjan put partners first over the course of her career.
“Where others may see channel partners as extensions of their sales force, for Donna it’s always the other way around — vendors such as HPE Aruba Networking are part of her partners’ ecosystems. This makes it a competitive imperative for vendors like us to provide and enable value creation for partners every day,” he said.
Prior to working at HPE/Aruba, Grothjan led worldwide distribution at Juniper Networks. She worked for 10 years at the vendor. Her tenure at Juniper came after a 15-year stint at Ingram Micro, where she worked as senior vice president of product management.
Grothjan has accumulated numerous industry awards over the course of her career. Channel Futures in 2020 named her a member of the Top Gun 51, a who’s who of leading channel executives.
Grothjan has played a key role in evangelizing Aruba’s network as a service (NaaS) strategy to partners.
“Those partners who offer managed services or as-a-service offerings are faring better than others who don’t,” Grothjan told Channel Futures in 2020. “So with customers moving to as-a-service, what we’re doing is making sure that partners have choice in how they support those customers.”
Her efforts help earned her a place on Channel Futures’ 2022 list of leaders in the managed services market.
Grothjan in a public statement encouraged channel professionals, especially women, to work on establishing a “trusted network” early in their careers.
“Turn to peers, advisors, industry authorities and functional experts that you can rely on for advice and guidance. Then, over the course of your career, when you encounter situations, environments and interpersonal relationships where you lack experience, you can turn to these individuals for assistance with navigating successfully. Most importantly, never be shy about being open and vulnerable with individuals in your trusted network, as they are there to help you. Equally critical is always being true to yourself: If at any time you think, ‘I wouldn’t do that or say that,’ then don’t,” she said.
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