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Verizon's New CMO Answers XO Integration, Schijns Departure Questions

The departure of Schijns makes things a little more interesting for VBM.

James Anderson

July 14, 2017

6 Min Read

Verizon Business Markets‘ (VBM) new marketing leader is taking on new channel-related responsibilities following the exit of longtime channel leader Janet Schijns.


Verizon’s Jake Heinz

Jake Heinz, chief marketing officer of VBM, spoke to Channel Partners about his new role and Verizon’s integration with XO Communications, where he spent the last five years as chief marketing officer. He also touched on the departure of Janet Schijns, whose most recent title was VP, Solution and Sales Channels. Her last day was Friday. A spokesperson confirmed to Channel Partners that Schijns is pursuing a yet-to-be-named opportunity elsewhere — so stay tuned.

We have edited the interview transcript for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: How have you and other XO personnel adjusted to VBM?

Jake Heinz: As part of the integration, the majority of XO’s customer base fit into the small- and medium-size business segment. When we looked at, “how does the organization fit in as a whole?” much of the organization followed where the base of customers fit in. And Verizon had just gone through the process of creating Verizon Business Markets, focused on some very small business, small business, medium, and state and local education. Most of our base fit into that group of subsegments. The majority of our organization – mostly sales, customer-facing people, retention reps, sales operations and the marketing operation – fit most seamlessly into Verizon Business Markets. When I came in, the VBM organization was still very new, and they were looking for expertise specifically in marketing to midmarket and small business, and that’s where XO had been focusing primarily. That was really our sweet spot; we had been doing it ourselves and strongly through the channel for a while, originally focused on small business but then bringing ourselves and bringing channel partners into larger, 10-side MPLS advanced networking deals.

You see a lot of our sales leadership on the marketing side and most of the marketing team, and then sales ops and all those types of components now as part of VBM leadership team in Verizon.

CP: What are your responsibilities in this new job?

JH: I still have responsibility now for XO sales. That will change over time, and my role will become more purely VBM marketing and everything from product marketing to demand generation and campaigns – your stereotypical work there – all the way through field marketing.


Former Verizon channel boss Janet Schijns

The organizations are sales organizations, including channel. So how do you take demand-generation work, campaign work … that’s designed for midmarket and small business customers and then localize it for a specific sales channel or a specific distribution organization or the channel itself? That all is part of the marketing purview of my responsibility.

Just recently layered on top of that — help in terms of channel strategy overall with Janet’s departure. So, what does the program look like? It’s a continuation of work that she was already doing along the lines of one program. Bring our various programs together into a larger, integrated, single program. Lori Bonenfant was working tightly with Janet to make that work happen, who also has a very strong marketing background and was doing much of the marketing work on behalf of the channel within Verizon. She moves into …

… the marketing umbrella as part of Verizon Business Markets.

CP: Was your shift to channel strategy in place before Janet’s departure?

JH: It changed it. Lori Bonenfant, who was doing much of the channel marketing work along with program design and strategy work, she reported directly up through Janet previously. So as Janet departs the business, one of the organizational changes is Lori comes in and is more seamlessly integrated as part of the marketing org. Before it would have been more of a dotted-line view of how we interacted with our team.

CP: How is the integration between XO and Verizon going?

JH: [Integrations can tend to be] scary proposition[s]. XO was under $2 billion roughly, so size-wise much smaller than Verizon. As the acquired party, you’re always nervous about, “What does this look like? How does this fit?”

As I said before, the creation of Verizon Business Markets just prior to the XO acquisition completing was very timely and very fortuitous in terms of where XO fit into a much larger entity. Verizon made the decision to get much more focused in this space – on midmarket and small business and state and local government customers – and that really helped a ton with the integration with XO overall. It became a much more obvious landing place for the folks who specialized in this area that existed within XO previously. That is organizationally what made it easier from an integration perspective.


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The planning itself was very well done, very well thought out. We had a long time to actually prepare for this because the deal was pending approval for almost a year. It’s been a seamless integration for the most part as we step into our new roles within the larger Verizon entity. The general attitude is very positive. You come in from a much smaller CLEC entity, and XO had a lot of nationwide fiber and a great partner program, but we struggled a little bit with last mile footprint and on-net [billing]. You come into an entity like Verizon that has many more assets in their portfolio, and it’s just a land of opportunity. And that’s how I feel within VBM. Stepping into this new role is like a kid in a candy [store] in terms of the assets that we have to work with in terms of the right fit, the right solution for the customers that we’ve been targeting, the prospects that we’ve been targeting. And really the same response from the channel partners who are engaged specifically with XO and are now being exposed to a larger program on the Verizon side.

CP: What can you say about the legacy Janet has left?

JH: Obviously a fabulous legacy. She leaves us in a very good place from a channel perspective, both design of program and relationship with the key partner program. She has been and continues to be super well connected within the channel-partner community and within telecom in general. When she sits down and talks to various partners, they’re sad on an interpersonal perspective to see her go. She was a strong advocate for the channel community within Verizon, which they acknowledge and recognize, and they feel strongly that she left them and Verizon as a whole and XO coming into Verizon in a very good place moving forward. And it’s really sort of through the good work that she has done over the years for the partner programs of Verizon that has set us up for a great jump-off point moving into the future. I can’t say enough positive things about what she has done with the programs.

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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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