This isn't your grandpa's Office Depot.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

September 5, 2017

6 Min Read
Janet Schijns


James Anderson

**Editor’s Note: Click here to see which channel people were on the move in August.**

Janet Schijns’ sudden departure from Verizon to Office Depot has been something of a mystery for the last two months.

Office Depot’s new senior vice president of services recently spoke to Channel Partners about her new role and why she chose to leave Verizon. Schijns, who previously served as Verizon’s vice president of global channels and VP of Verizon Business Markets, says she was interested in helping Office Depot as it builds a new brand.

Schijns announced in July that she was leaving Verizon to explore personal opportunities. Office Depot announced her hire July 25. Read about how Verizon Business Markets is adjusting in her absence.

We have edited the interview transcript for clarity and length.

Channel Partners: What are you doing in this new job?

Janet Schijns: The title is SVP of services, and those services include all of our tech services as well as all of our business services. So think copy, print, ship, pack — all the services that we do for our customers. So I lead all of those services for Office Depot across all of our channels. We have 1,400 retail stores. We have a very robust website and omnichannel and a very robust business solutions group that does contracts and customer engagement, from enterprise to corporate to medium business. Across all the channels I lead our services.

CP: To what extent does it involve sales?

JS: When you think about all of those channels, what I and my team do is, we create, condition and do the go-to-market for all of the products that are services. And then we work closely with the sales organization to make sure they’re executing upon that and having the right customer experience and customer engagement.

While I do not own the sales organization, I have them matrix into me day-to-day. I am responsible for their results with my products and services. As you can imagine, it’s a very close relationship.

CP: What kind of skills or experiences from the last job are you able to apply to this?

JS: Everyone has asked that question in a different way. At the top level, my experience has been as a go-to-market expert in all distribution channels as well as products. I led products for a number of years at Verizon. I’ve led channels at Verizon and Motorola. Then I had my own go-to-market consultancy shop for over a decade. When you blend those two experiences together, it is a very interesting combination of my background and the things that I believe in and know are true. When you layer on that my ultimate geekiness and the fact that I’ve …

… been in the technology and business-services arena for a lot of years — that actually is the new office supply of the future, if you will.

If you think about Office Depot, it has traditionally been the place where people went, say a decade ago, to get their file folders and their pens and their notebooks. Well now, Office Depot is within five miles of millions and millions of businesses — more than 5 million businesses across the U.S. And now they’re the place where people to go to get the new office supply for their business, which is technology.

Think about a small business first starting up. What’s the first thing that people do? They get email; they get a website; they get a computer or a tablet or a mobile device; they need to protect that; they have problems provisioning that; they don’t know what software to put on that. Well, guess what — Office Depot’s right there. My team actually provisions computers to new PC setup. They protect those computers; when we set up your computer, we guarantee you will not get any viruses for a year while Office Depot is on the line. And people love that. Rather than working with the small mom-and-pop shop that can’t give that kind of guarantee or some remote person over at a call center, they have a personal relationship with the technical staff within our stores.

This is in the core of everything I’ve ever done — to provide technology services and understand how to provision those products, and even more importantly, how to make them so that a channel can engage with their customers and spend their time in front of their customers versus in front of screens trying to figure things out. And the customers now need this local supplier first-person relationship, and that is Office Depot.

So the whole composition of how folks are thinking about the Office Depot brand has shifted, and that’s why this is the perfect time for me to come in and really get after this with our whole leadership team and our associates, and I think we’ll be able to proudly display to the market how critical we are to these businesses.

CP: What led up to the decision to join Office Depot?

JS: I’ve gotten that question from family and friends. This is the first time I’ve talked to the press about it. No decision to ever leave a company as much as I love Verizon is easy. We always think about this in the terms of personal career choices. It was not in any means anything to do with Verizon. It had to do with Office Depot. This was a unique opportunity to help small businesses. It’s a fantastic company. The culture here is marvelous — people helping each other, people wanting to help each other, involved in the local community. And most importantly, it hit my career goal to really get in somewhere and set up a new practice and bring a revolution into a brand and a brand that wanted it and was already starting down [that] road. That’s what led to my decision. It was right [for] my career. It was right for my development, and most importantly …

… it was right for Office Depot.

CP: What would you say to the audience reading this article?

JS: I would say that I loved every minute of working in the technology channel, and that’s why I’m still in it. Office Depot is a technology player. I encourage the people in the channel to keep in touch with me, to let me know their thoughts, let me know how we can improve their local Office Depot or OfficeMax and how we can work with them. Because I will never ever let my technology channel go.

CP: Is there anything else you want to add?

JS: No matter where you’re working, sell more. You know me; you know that’s what I would tell the partners if I were sitting in front of them, and that’s what I tell our partners here, so go sell more.

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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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