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New Zscaler Channel Leader Won't 'Boil the Ocean' in Partner Program Expansion

"I love amplifying partner communities, and that's going to be my task here," Karl Soderlund said.

James Anderson

March 11, 2023

8 Slides

Newly appointed Zscaler channel leader Karl Soderlund said he’ll work to “amplify” the cybersecurity provider’s existing partner program.

Soderlund has moved from Palo Alto Networks, where he was leading North American ecosystem sales, to oversee global Zscaler partner efforts. He will work as senior vice president of worldwide partners and alliances. Zscaler chief operating officer Dali Rajic said Soderlund’s appointment comes as the vendor continues making “meaningful investments in our partner model.”

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Palo Alto Networks’ Karl Soderlund

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Zscaler’s Dali Rajic

“Karl’s deep partner expertise and proven track record with the execution of highly strategic partner programs at top networking and cybersecurity companies demonstrates that he is the right industry veteran to take our channel partner program to the next level,” Rajic said.

Soderlund has worked at a litany of high profile vendors, including Aruba and Avaya. Channel Futures named him a 2022 Channel Influencer.

Building and Amplifying

Soderlund is engaging in a listening tour with partners before he implements changes in the Zscaler Partner Program. He said he had known before that Zscaler enjoyed a strong reputation for its technology among partners.

Soderlund spoke highly of Zscaler and its partner program, both of which he competed against in his former role at Palo Alto. According to Zscaler, the partner program contributes to 95% of the cloud security provider’s business. However, Soderlund said Zscaler’s channel program has reached a critical junction in its growth.

“They’ve got a great foundation set, but they’re really looking to scale the program for long-term growth and really build out that partner community,” he told Channel Futures. “And that’s what I love doing. I love building programs. I love amplifying partner communities, and that’s going to be my task here. So I’m excited to get started.”

Soderlund in an interview with Channel Futures said he’s eyeing a focused approach to partner recruitment. That means identifying specific leading partners who want to grow alongside Zscaler. He called this a “rifle” approach, rather than a “shotgun” approach. But Soderlund also noted that he hopes to replicate those efforts across the Zscaler channel.

“I’m really looking to see if I can build a repeatable blueprint for success to share with the greater partner community,” he said.

Soderlund sat down for a virtual interview with Channel Futures, fielding questions about Zscaler’s channel program and his partner listening tour. Read his comments in the eight slides above.

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

 

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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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