Top Gun 51 Profile: Snowflake's Colleen Kapase Says 'Channel Chief' Title Is Outdated

The channel vet moved over from VMware, where she made big changes. Expect the same in this role.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

October 9, 2019

4 Min Read
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Top Gun 51 recipient and 20-year channel veteran Colleen Kapase is on a roll with big plans for the partner channel at data warehouse Snowflake.

In June, Kapase moved from VMware, where she served as vice president, go-to-market strategy, over to Snowflake to take on the role of vice president of partner and alliances. By the time this article published, Kapase had been leading the nascent Snowflake channel for a full quarter. “I’m just getting started!” she told Channel Partners.

If Kapase’s work at VMware, where she restructured partner segmentation, compensation, program requirements and benefits and more, is any indication, the industry will hear more from the Snowflake channel soon.


Snowflake’s Colleen Kapase

In this edited Q&A, Kapase discusses her plans for the Snowflake partner community, and brings up an intriguing question: Is it time to rethink the “channel chief” moniker?

Channel Futures: How did you become involved in the channel?

Colleen Kapase: I started out as an intern at a boutique channel consultancy named MSI in Seattle. From there, I was a consultant before spending five years as director of global programs with Citrix, followed by 13 years with VMware where I spearheaded the overhaul of VMware’s deal registration program as well as led the partner program for thousands of partners working with VMware globally.

We recently unveiled our “Top Gun 51,” a list of today’s channel executives who deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.

CF: What changes have you made during your time as Snowflake’s channel chief?

CK: Today Snowflake engages with partners in a referral and post-sales services capacity. Already we have started looking at ways to work with the MSP partner community as data is core to many of their service offerings.

CF: What innovations have you brought to the Snowflake channel program?

CK: Snowflake doesn’t have a formal partner program today, but watch out world, here we come! Establishing that program is a core focus of mine.

CP: How does Snowflake engage partners differently compared to competitors?

CK: Snowflake values partners for their services capabilities and they are truly a growth driver for post-sale services. The impact partners have on Snowflake consumption is palpable and Snowflake’s field continues to understand and value the partners role in the solution, where other vendors tend to want to go it alone and do the services themselves. We understand a true data solution is made up of many parts including extract/transform/load and business intelligence vendors. Our system integrator partner community is well suited to bring us all together at the customer’s implementation.

CP: What are your goals for the Snowflake channel over the coming year?

CK: To truly harness the power of Snowflake’s cloud-built solution and create new partnering business models that appeal to born-in-the-cloud and cloud-focused SI partners. Snowflake is not shackled to traditional ways of doing business and has the ability to innovate partner business models in ways not seen before. Snowflake’s Secure Data Sharing feature is one example of how both our customers and partners can become data providers in a simple, easy-to-use technology that is unparalleled in the industry and can truly make all of us more informed business users of data.

CP: What have you learned most, so far, from the channel overall and partners?

CK: Like the technology we represent, the partner ecosystem is ever evolving in the value it can provide customers, but trust …

… never goes out of style. Customers continue to use partners to help them determine the best solution for their specific business outcomes and how they can use technology to drive those outcomes in a more strategic and yet cost-effective manner. The type of partner and services offered may transform but the basic premise of a trusted advisor has stood the test of time.

CP: What do you consider your biggest accomplishments in working with the channel?

CK: Scaling VMware over a decade from a few hundred reseller partners and a handful of distributors to an approximately $10 billion dollar business all while leveraging partners throughout the journey.

CF: Where do you see the cloud data warehouse market going over the next 12-18 months?

CK: We recently launched our Data Exchange marketplace for Snowflake customers to share and monetize their data in a secure and easy-to-use way. Snowflake is focused on breaking down the barriers to data access both between and within organizations. We plan to continue to build upon and innovate our Data Exchange and think this will propel the industry forward.

CF: What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in channel leadership?

CK: Listen – and I mean truly listen – to the trinity of needs: your organization’s needs, your partners’ needs and, most importantly, your customers’ needs. Somewhere in that triangle of input in your north star strategy.

CF: Anything else you’d like to add?

CK: I believe the term “channel chief” needs to be revitalized. I don’t know if it is chief partner officer, or head of partner strategy, or other good ideas, but I think we partner leaders need a new term that reflects the strategic value we bring to our companies across a very complex ecosystem of partners.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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