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AT&T's Brooks McCorcle Explains Retirement, Major Channel Realignment

McCorcle and her successor explain the future of the carrier's Partner Solutions division.

James Anderson

October 6, 2017

9 Min Read
Realign

AT&T made a major realignment of its partner programs this week and announced the retirement of one of its top channel leaders.

Brooks McCorcle is retiring as president of AT&T Partner Solutions, and the company is appointing Zee Hussain as division president. Hussain will oversee AT&T’s three indirect sales programs: Partner Exchange, Alliance Channel and ACC Business.

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AT&T’s Brooks McCorcle

AT&T named Xavier Williams as president of AT&T Business Operations and Wholesale Markets after placing AT&T Wholesale outside of AT&T Partner Solutions.

McCorcle tells Channel Partners that the changes took effect Oct. 1, but she will attend the upcoming AT&T Partner Exchange and be featured as a main speaker in order to help Hussain transition into his role.

McCorcle joined Hussain and Williams in speaking to Channel Partners this week. We have edited the transcript for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: What has changed as a result of the realignment?

Zee Hussain: The big change here is the fact that we’ve got all three of our indirect channels under one roof now. AT&T Partner Exchange, one of our big innovative brands that’s been under Brooks’ leadership since its inception; AT&T Alliance solutions, which is one of our more storied, more robust brands that’s been in the marketplace for quite some time; and then ACC Business, which is a very well respected brand of solution providers that primarily plays in the transactional space.

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AT&T’s Zee Hussain

The big news here is that three indirect channels are all under one umbrella. That organization is called AT&T Partner Solutions, which I’m going to lead. I report to Anne Chow, who is the president of national business. And as you think about our indirect strategy from a distribution standpoint — where do our partners, where do our solution providers sell the most? How do they need to be aligned with some of our strategies around fiber, integrated product rollout, solutioning and tooling? That is the perfect space for the Partner Solutions channel to roll under. The Partner Solutions organization will be under National Business.

I think why this is significant is – if you think about the indirect strategy for most years – you had indirect organizations, you had channel organizations really follow the direct sales model. AT&T Partner Exchange was pretty much under the same roof as wholesale with Brooks. Alliance Channel has been in different organizations, and the same thing with ACC. This is the first time that I know of that we’ve got all three of those brands under one roof. And that’s basically a recognition of the fact that …

… indirect is a hugely important distribution channel for us. We essentially need to double down. We need to have it where it is the only focus of the organization. You’re not competing for mindshare with other direct sales resources. From an indirect standpoint, I think that’s the big statement.

Xavier Williams: From a wholesale perspective, our objective is to continue to build on the momentum that Brooks has built over the last couple of years. I’ve known Brooks for over the last decade. She’s a great business leader, a good friend and has a phenomenal focus on customers. If you think about what AT&T has done over the last couple years around our wholesale portfolio is continue to provide access to our networks, to extend their reach and their end-user customer experience.

If you think about it, we’re actually two halves of an organization. Besides this wholesale market focus, I also have business operations, where most of our focus is around improving the customer experience. So it’s really just trying to nail the best of both worlds and continu[ing] to create a phenomenal customer experience for our wholesale [sic.] customers.

CP: How will the experience of AT&T partners change as a result of the realignment?

ZH: From a broader perspective, the day-to-day experience of our partners doesn’t really change. There’s just an increased amount of focus having all three of these under one roof. I think what we’re trying to do is give our partners the option – depending on their business model – to figure out what is the best strategy for them. They get the opportunity to do business with us on their terms versus us giving the terms to them. I think the nice thing about all three of them being under one roof is: We talk about the model that’s associated with each of them, we look at what the partners’ business model is, and then we work with them to figure out which [partner program] would make the most sense for them.

Brooks McCorcle: I feel like what we’re pulling together here is three different business models with three different sets of functionality, three different value propositions in the marketplace. What I’ve been working on for the last five years for AT&T Partner Exchange — actually bringing in solution providers and saying, “We’re going to build a reseller model around you; what do you want it to look like?’ and actually having them be a part of the development of that model and have it be as successful as it’s been with really innovative API platforms and self-service. It’s very agile. It’s automated, and it’s built to fit the kind of business model that a particular set of solution providers wants to engage with. As we’ve done that, we’ve found that …

… there are parts of that that can be really beneficial to our agent model, the Alliance Channel, [and] we’ve been working over the last couple of years with ACC Business to do the same — to try to use some of the best-in-class tools that we’ve created to put them into other parts of the indirect channel that make sense.

I would tell you that we’re excited about taking a crack at that and doing what we can to improve the experience across the board. [Zee] is a very dynamic leader. He’s going to take this to the next level, and I think he’s right pulling it all together under one umbrella for the first time. It’s certainly something that we have looked at before, and now with my retirement, is a great opportunity just to go ahead and do it. I feel really great that we have multiple choices for our partners [who] can choose to integrate with us with the best products, the best tooling, the best processes and the best experience.

My perspective on the wholesale piece is that it’s a very large, carrier-based business. Xavier is a very experienced sales guy. We’ve got a very strong leader in charge of wholesale, Brendan Floyd. So I think the tighter integration of wholesale with some of the other responsibilities that Xavier has will really quicken and fit the needs of those high-end carriers even better than we do today.

CP: Can you talk about your decision to retire and what the last many years have meant to you?

BM: The decision to retire right now is a really a personal one. I’m in a position to play a very large role in my two-year-old granddaughter’s life. It really was a personal decision to choose this time to go and invest some time with her. Working for a firm that has put me in a position to do that and leaders that have supported me in that journey — it’s meant a lot to me. I think the timing’s right for me, and I think the timing’s right for the business. I have had a fantastic career. I’ve had so many opportunities to run large businesses, to run small teams, to start new things up like we did with AT&T Partner Exchange. What I hope is that as a result of some of that, customers are having better experiences today, that employees are growing and developing. Partner Exchange is a perfect example.

Five years ago, we were challenged to go [make] a different business model, find new ways to reach out to customers in the market. I call it “crowd-sourced.” I worked the phones for 10 days to find the best leaders across AT&T to meet me out at the [AT&T] Foundry. I brought in some solution providers, and we said, “We’re building …

… something around you. Tell us what you want it to look like.” We collaborated together with solution providers, with developers, and created something that I think is one of a kind. It has been widely recognized. It’s scaling very nicely, and I’m very proud of that.

I’m very proud of not only what we’ve built, but how we’ve built it. We’ve built it in very much a startup fashion, and that’s how we run it. We run it as if it’s a small business in and of itself. As you know, many of these solution providers — they’re small entrepreneurs as well. Having them come out and work with us – always having somebody on site in a very open and collaborative way – to me has really set the tone for how we want to operate in this indirect space.

It’s been a blast. Probably the most fun assignment I’ve ever had, and then we added ACC Business and Wholesale several years ago and got a lot of great synergy out of that. I feel good about where the business is, and I really just want to thank the solution providers that we’ve worked with who have helped us build this really unique experience.

XW: One of the things that Brooks has done is, she’s really been a trailblazer, in our company on many levels. But around what we’ve done with our indirect channels, she has brought innovation, tried to move away from bureaucracy, starting from the customer and bringing it back in, and it has really changed the culture of our entire enterprise business. Part-and-parcel with that, as a role model for young folks, women, men, me, she’s going to be sorely missed. Because there was never a time that you would reach out to Brooks and she would not get back to you immediately. And not only would she get back to you; it would be a positive experience. She’s going to be sorely missed.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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