Top Gun 51 Profile: Zerto’s Peter Kerr on Finding Balance in the Channel
Peter Kerr, Zerto’s vice president of global alliances, has had a lot of titles during his career in IT.
He’s been an independent web developer, a programmer analyst, a technical lead and a senior program lead. But it wasn’t until he got involved in the channel as a director of business development for the former Violin Memory in 2012 that he realized he had a passion for working in the channel, helping IT leaders in a wide range of companies solve their IT problems.
Kerr, who was recently named as a Channel Partners Top Gun 51 Award winner, spoke with Channel Partners about his work and his career and about how he approaches Zerto’s customers and channel partners every day. Zerto’s products provide disaster recovery and business continuity services for customers in virtual and cloud environments. Here is an edited version of that conversation.
Channel Futures: How did you get involved in the channel?
Peter Kerr: I’ve been working in the channel since 2012, when I joined what was then Violin Memory. I worked on the company’s Microsoft partner team helping to co-develop, co-market and sell products. Previously, I had worked at Microsoft for about 10 years as a sales team manager, a senior lead product manager and a senior program manager. Back then, Microsoft sold almost everything through partners. There was very little actual direct sales. It was always through a distributor or partner. That’s kind of where I got thinking about the channel for a long time.
|Our “Top Gun 51” is 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: So how did you make the transition to the channel at Violin from your work at Microsoft?
PK: After working at Microsoft and before I joined Violin, I went back to school for business school at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where I earned my MBA in 2012. I wanted to be somewhere that I could make some kind of impact using my background. I saw that alliances and channel was kind of a perfect match with my history from Microsoft and my education. After business school, I joined Violin and worked there 18 months. That experience gave me a hard core base in how to make something work when you are a small company, compared to a large company like Microsoft. At Violin, I ran the company’s global alliance program across all its partners.
CF: How did you end up at Zerto, and what are your responsibilities there?
PK: From Violin, I did some sales, marketing and channel advisory work for a few months for a startup, Gratafy, and then I became the senior director for strategic alliances for Tegile Systems through August of 2016, before joining Zerto that same month. At Zerto, I was hired as the director of global alliances and in October of 2018 I was named vice president of global alliances.
CF: How do you see the channel today?
PK: I think the channel is forming much more into a true value-add in the marketplace, meaning you have to have services as well as…