Microsoft consolidates its partner organization and split the channel chief role into to positions, which report to new CPO Nicole Dezen.

Jeffrey Schwartz

July 14, 2022

4 Min Read
Microsoft's Nicole Dezen

Microsoft has chosen the new face of its ecosystem with the naming of Nicole Dezen as chief partner officer (CPO). Nick Parker, president of Microsoft’s industry partner and sales organization on Thursday announced Dezen’s appointment to the new CPO role.

The selection of Dezen (pictured above) comes two months after Microsoft channel chief Rodney Clark unexpectedly left the company after 25 years. Clark, who was only channel chief for a year, left to become chief commercial officer at Johnson Controls.

Clark’s departure resulted in Microsoft rethinking its partner organization and the role of the channel chief. While the official title was corporate VP for channel sales, Microsoft put the channel at the center of its ecosystem. The change in terminology from channel chief to CPO deliberately underscores Microsoft’s “new and deeper approach to channel and ecosystem leadership and advocacy,” Parker stated.

“Her new designation as CPO demonstrates our continued investment in our partner strategy and commitment to the importance of the entire partner ecosystem to Microsoft,” Parker added. “As chief partner officer, Nicole will have singular accountability for the commercial partner business. She will have a tremendous opportunity to lead, innovate and grow our mutual business with partners.”

Consolidated Partner Organization

Microsoft consolidated its strategic partners organization with its industry solutions group under Parker. The move promises to reduce channel conflict and promote Microsoft’s co-sell efforts.


Techaisle’s Anurag Agrawal

“Microsoft needs their partner sellers, industry solutions providers and the enterprise sellers to work together in a much more cohesive manner,” said Anurag Agrawal, principal analyst with Techaisle.

Parker explained the reasoning for the new partner organizational structure. But the title change isn’t just putting a new name on the same organizational structure. Parker said two new leaders will report to her. David Smith will be VP of channel sales, and Julie Sanford takes over as VP of partner GTM, programs and experiences. By creating these positions, Microsoft has split the role previously held by the channel chief. Unlike the former Microsoft channel chief role, the CPO will have accountability for the broader partner ecosystem, leading Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar commercial partner business.

“Our mission in the Global Partner Solutions organization is to build and sell Microsoft Cloud applications, services and devices with partners, empowering people and organizations to achieve more,” Parker said. “We will deliver on this with partners across our solution areas and industries to create new customer value.”

Dezen’s Microsoft Tenure

Dezen has held various channel roles at Microsoft for nearly 12 years. After overseeing device and partner sales, Microsoft recently promoted her to corporate VP of partner solutions. Parker said she will retain that role in addition to serving as CPO.

“Nicole brings a unique perspective to our efforts, as well as a complete left-to-right view of the opportunities and challenges facing Microsoft partners around the world,” Parker said.

Dezen announced her promotion on LinkedIn.

“I will be dedicated to doing everything possible to help partners build successful businesses with Microsoft,” Dezen wrote. “Working with them to create differentiated solutions; making it easier, more seamless and more profitable to do business on Microsoft Cloud; unlocking hidden potential through co-selling and strategic partnerships; and evolving how we engage with partners, so they can spend more energy with customers.”

Before Microsoft named Dezen corporate VP of device and partner sales, she was a VP of device partner sales. She previously held various roles in Microsoft’s OEM division before the company promoted her to general manager of that unit. Dezen also spent two years as general manager of consumer and device sales in the U.K. and Ireland.

Agrawal, who knows Dezen, believes she is a good choice.

“Nicole has tremendous experience because she has been selling to the consumer, to the SMB segment, and to the enterprise segment as well, Agrawal said. “And she is very committed to the partner community.”

More News at Next Week’s Inspire Event

Parker and Dezen stated that more information would come at next week’s Microsoft Inspire conference. Microsoft is holding the event online July 19-20. Leading up to the conference, Microsoft finalized some other moves in its partner organization.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that Tyler Bryson, corporate VP of global partner systems for the U.S., is taking over its domestic health and public sector industry business.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Jeffrey Schwartz or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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